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Dental Care Basics

Dental Care Is Not Just for a Pretty Smile

Everyone wants a smile they are proud to flash. People will believe you’re friendlier if you smile often, which can be an advantage in your professional and personal life. Besides the aesthetic benefits, a good dental hygiene routine and regular dental exams are also good for your overall health. Avoiding oral health problems can lower your risk of contracting certain diseases, such as cardiovascular disease.

What’s the Link Between Plaque and Gum Disease

Plaque is the film that sticks to your teeth after consuming food or drinks containing starch or sugar. If you brush and floss it away, it won’t build up. If you have a poor diet or oral care routine, the bacteria in plaque has time to create acids that cause cavities. Plaque can also harden around the gumline, turning into tartar. Tarter is impossible to remove at home; you need a professional teeth cleaning to get rid if it.

How Can You Spot Gingivitis?

The bacteria in tartar will irritate and inflame your gums, turning them bright red. They may also look puffy. When you brush and floss, you may notice your gums bleeding. This is called gingivitis, the mildest form of gum disease. It’s reversible with treatment, but without treatment, it can turn into periodontitis.

If you practice good oral hygiene at home, gum disease isn’t inevitable. It is estimated that more than half of Americans have gingivitis at some point in their lives. Periodontitis is the primary reason for adult tooth loss, since the disease destroys the gums, bone and ligaments, which hold teeth in place.

Periodontitis treatment can stop further damage, but the disease isn’t reversible like gingivitis. Please contact us online or by phone to explore your treatment options.

What Causes Cavities?

Tooth decay, a very common dental disease, causes cavities. Both children and adults get cavities, although most tooth decay is preventable with good oral hygiene, a healthy diet and regular professional cleanings. Plaque, the biofilm that causes gum disease, also causes cavities. The bacteria in plaque takes sugar in foods and drinks and turns it into acid. The acid eats away at a tooth, causing a hole, or cavity.

You may have a cavity if:

  • You see a visible hole in your tooth
  • Your tooth suddenly becomes sensitive to hot and cold foods and drinks
  • Your tooth is painful
  • Unexplained bad breath

Sometimes, you will have no symptoms. It’s essential you have regular exams so your dentist can catch cavities early, before they become large, painful and more expensive to treat.

What Are Good At-home Oral Hygiene Habits?

When you practice good oral hygiene, you lower your risk of developing cavities and gum disease. It’s your ticket to a healthier mouth and takes just a few minutes a day.

Brushing: Brush your teeth in the morning and before retiring at night. Ideally, you should brush after every meal, but if this isn’t possible, chew sugarless gum after your meal to help remove plaque. Use a soft bristle or electric toothbrush and hold it at a 45-degree angle. Brush every tooth, including the front, back and chewing surface. Replace your brush every three to four mouths.

Flossing: A daily flossing routine helps prevent cavities and gum disease. It also helps freshen your breath by removing food particles trapped between your teeth, which you can’t see and your toothbrush can’t reach. If you have difficulty using dental floss, ask your dentist about alternatives, such as an electric flosser.

Mouthwashes: Like dental floss, mouthwashes, also called mouthrinses, help remove plaque from hard-to-reach areas. Look for products that kill bacteria, not simply freshen your breath. Products should have the ADA Seal of Acceptance are proven to work as the label claims.

Eating a Dental Healthy Diet: A healthy dental diet contains whole grains, lean meats, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products. This will provide the protein, calcium, vitamins and phosphorous teeth need. Limit the amount of sugary drinks and food between meals. When you eat meals, it produces saliva, which washes plaque away. Drink water with meals and after consuming sugary snacks. Chewing sugarless gum with the ADA Seal of Acceptance for about 20 minutes after a meal can also help reduce plaque.

Why Do You Need a Dentist as Your Oral Health Partner?

Your dentist is your partner in maintaining your oral health. He or she can give advice on your at-home oral care routine, provide treatment as needed and offer advice about preventative treatments based on risk factors you have for dental diseases.

Your dentist will screen your mouth for lesions or unusual tissue patches during your routine exam. He or she can note any changes that could be an early warning sign of oral cancer.

Dentists also look for signs you grind your teeth at night and suggest a mouthguard to protect them if you clench or grind your teeth. If you play contact sports or engage in extreme recreational activities, he or she will explain the protection a custom sports guard can offer your teeth, jaw and tongue.

The oral cancer death rate is high, not because oral cancer is difficult to discover or treat, but because it often isn’t caught early. Dentists have taken the lead to screen for the cancer during their adult patient’s routine exams. Many of the oral cancer cases diagnosed in people under 40 have a particular virus as a contributing factor.

For most people, lesions or discolored patches often occur in the back of the mouth where people are not likely to see them during their oral care routine, making early self-detection difficult. A dentist is much more likely to notice a potential problem. Your dentist will send a sample off to a lab to see if there are any cancerous cells present.

How Can Proactive Dental Care Help Me Have Good Oral Health?

Even if you diligently care for your teeth at home, you still need regular exams. Being proactive and seeking preventative care can help you avoid expensive, painful emergencies that can damage your permanent teeth beyond repair.

Call us or contact us online to arrange an appointment with a dentist who believes in preventative care so patients maintain the beautiful, healthy-looking smile for as long as possible.

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