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Dental Care Basics

Did you know that your oral health can have a significant impact on your overall health? Taking care of your teeth and gums can reduce your risk of developing conditions like cardiovascular disease, pneumonia and various types of cancers. This means that it’s important that you visit a dental health care professional on a regular basis, as well as establish good oral hygiene habits at home.

Understanding the basics about dental care will assist you in making informed decisions about your family’s oral health.

Preventing Plaque Attacks

Every time you eat or drink something, a sticky, clear film known as plaque forms on your teeth. This clear film holds a type of bacteria that releases acids that directly attack the teeth and gums, leading to tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease. Repeated attacks from this bacteria result in the enamel of the tooth wearing down, weakening the tooth and making it more likely that the tooth will develop a cavity.

If you don’t remove plaque with brushing and flossing every day, it will build up on your teeth and gumline, hardening into calculus and tartar. Leaving these substances untreated could eventually lead to gingivitis.

Understanding Gingivitis

Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease. It is estimated that around 75% of Americans develop this condition at some point in their lives. This is the main reason behind bleeding gums in adults. This condition is treatable and reversible if it is caught early enough.

Since gingivitis doesn’t typically cause pain, you may have it and not be aware of it. Regular checkups with your dentist can help in diagnosing this problem in its earliest stages. If gingivitis is left untreated, the plaque will continue to build up on the gumline and teeth, eventually turning into advanced gum disease, also known as periodontitis. Advanced gum disease can cause you to lose your teeth.

Some of the primary symptoms of gingivitis include:

  • Teeth that are sensitive to heat and cold
  • Puffy gums that are dark red or purple
  • Sore or tender gums
  • Gums that bleed during brushing or flossing
  • Foul-smelling breath
  • A change in bite
  • Loose teeth

Removing plaque from your teeth and gums is the best way to prevent gingivitis. If you believe that you may have this condition, give our office a call so that we can book you for a cleaning. We will remove the build-up of plaque and tartar from your teeth and gums with special tools.

All About Cavities

Tooth decay, also known as cavities or dental caries, is also caused by plaque. They form when the enamel of the teeth become worn down and damaged by the acid released by the bacteria in the plaque. The damaged areas develop small cavities, which will become larger and deeper if left untreated. Large cavities can lead to infection, toothache and tooth loss.

The American Dental Association (ADA) found that tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease in America. Although children are prone to cavities, infants and older adults can also get them. You may have a cavity if:

  • You feel pain when you bite down or chew
  • Your tooth is sensitive to foods and beverages that are hot, cold or sweet
  • You experience a sudden toothache for no apparent reason
  • Your tooth has visible pits or holes

In the early stages of tooth decay, you often won’t be aware that you have a cavity forming. This is another reason why it’s important to see a dentist regularly. Untreated tooth decay can lead to bacterial infections that spread to the roots of the tooth. These infections can turn into abscesses and also cause serious, occasionally life-threatening, complications.

The Importance of At-Home Dental Care

Taking care of your teeth and gums at home will help to prevent cavities, gingivitis and other dental issues from occurring.

Brushing: You should brush your teeth twice a day. The ADA recommends that you do so using a soft-bristle or an electric brush with fluoride toothpaste. Your dentist may recommend a different brushing regimen that meets your unique dental needs. Other brushing tips include:

  • Brush the teeth for a minimum of two minutes
  • Brush the tongue in order to remove bacteria that can cause odors
  • Replace toothbrushes every three months or once the bristles are worn out
  • Change toothbrushes after having the flu, a cold or a mouth infection

Flossing: Daily flossing is important because it can remove food particles and plaque from places that your toothbrush can’t reach. Flossing every day will help you to prevent tartar from building up. It will also prevent tooth decay and bad breath.

Mouthwash: Swishing an antibacterial mouth rinse for at least 30 seconds will also assist in reducing the number of bacteria present in your mouth. This activity will help to get rid of food particles missed during brushing and flossing. Make sure you use a mouthwash that has the ADA seal on its label.

Healthy eating and drinking: Another way to ensure your dental health remains in top-notch shape is to eat a healthy diet. The ADA states that eating a poor diet filled with lots of carbohydrates, starches and sugars encourages excess production of plaque. Eating a diet full of lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, nuts and dairy products is much better for both your oral and overall health. In addition, the ADA also recommends that you drink tap water with fluoride. This assists in preventing tooth decay.

Why It’s Important to Visit a Dentist Regularly

You should see your dentist on a regular basis because it helps to establish a good relationship between the two of you. Regularly seeing the same dentist allows that dentist to become familiar with your full dental and medical history. This can save you time, money and stress further down the road. The earlier that the dentist sees any issues pop up, the less intensive and expensive the treatment process will be.

The ADA recommends that you see your dentist at least twice a year for checkups and professional dental cleanings. If you have special dental health needs, your dentist may recommend that you schedule appointments more frequently. During your checkups, the dentist will perform an examination of your mouth, looking for any early signs of decay and gum disease. Other issues your dentist will be looking for include teeth grinding, signs of TMJ and changes in your bite. X-rays may be taken at your exam as well. This can help detect problems such as jawbone loss, decay in between the teeth, fractures, abscesses, tumors and cysts.

Twice-a-year checkups with your dentist will also allow you to be screened regularly for oral cancer. Dentists are typically the first ones to notice the early stages of this potentially deadly disease. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research states that there are around 49,700 new cases of oral cancer diagnosed every year in the United States. The Cleveland Clinic found that men are twice as likely to be diagnosed with oral cancer as women. This makes oral cancer the sixth most common cancer diagnosed in men. Smoking or drinking alcohol puts you at an even higher risk of developing the disease.

Quality Dental Care Is Within Your Reach

Obtaining the smile of your dreams is possible. All you have to do is properly care for your oral health at home and see your dentist on a routine basis.

Our practice provides all patients with high-quality and affordable dental care. You can book an appointment online or by calling our office.

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