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Posted on: October 13, 2020
Dental Care Basics
Our mouths are incredibly important. They allow us to eat, drink, smile and speak. They also serve as the entrance to our digestive and respiratory tracts. This means that we need to take good care of our mouths. Unhealthy teeth and gums lead to problems like cardiovascular disease, pneumonia and cancers of the mouth and throat. By establishing healthy dental habits at home and seeing a dentist for regular checkups and cleanings you will ensure that your mouth remains as healthy as possible.
Having some knowledge of dental care basics will assist you in your journey to achieving optimal oral health.
How Removing Plaque Impacts Your Oral Health
Did you know that every time you eat or drink a clear film called plaque sticks to the surface of your teeth? Plaque is comprised of a type of bacteria that releases acids onto the teeth and gums. These acids work to destroy the tooth’s enamel. Enamel is a thin covering on the outer surface of the teeth. While this covering is hard, repeated plaque attacks will cause the tooth to weaken and become more susceptible to decay.
Plaque can be removed via brushing and flossing your teeth every day. If you don’t work to get rid of plaque, it will eventually build up and harden into calculus. This then leads to gum inflammation. This condition is also called gingivitis.
How Gingivitis Causes You to Lose Your Teeth
Gingivitis is an incredibly common condition that is the leading cause of bleeding gums. It is considered to be the first stage of gum disease and is estimated to impact nearly 75% of Americans at some point in their lives. If caught in the earliest stages, gingivitis is completely reversible.
If you fail to treat gingivitis, it will advance into a disease called periodontitis. This is an advanced form of gum disease. Periodontitis is one of the leading causes of tooth loss in adult dental patients.
Symptoms of gingivitis are:
- Swollen gums
- Dark red or purple gums
- Sore or tender gums
- Bad breath
- Sensitive teeth
- Loose teeth
- Bite changes
The best way to prevent gingivitis is to rid your mouth of as much plaque as is possible. As soon as you notice any signs of this condition, you should contact a dentist immediately so that your problem can be treated effectively.
The Cause of Cavities
Cavities (or tooth decay) are also caused by plaque. The plaque acids released after eating and drinking gradually dissolve the dentin and enamel of the teeth. This leads to tiny holes called cavities. These cavities will deepen and get larger, resulting in toothaches and infections. In serious cases cavities can lead to tooth loss.
While cavities are a common chronic childhood disease, infants and older adults can also get cavities. Some signs that you may have one include:
- A sudden onset of a toothache
- Pain when biting or chewing
- Sensitive teeth
- Visible holes in the teeth
Leaving a cavity untreated can lead to serious consequences. Bacterial infections can spread down into the root of the tooth, leading to abscesses and potentially fatal complications. Seeing your dentist regularly will help to find cavities early on, before they become a serious issue.
The Importance of Dental Care at Home
There are a few things that you can do on a daily basis in order to ensure that your oral health remains in top-notch shape.
Brushing: Your teeth should be brushed at least twice a day, for a minimum of two minutes each time. You should utilize an electric or soft-bristle toothbrush with fluoride toothpaste. Make sure you brush your tongue. You should also be sure to change your toothbrush every three months, whenever the bristles are worn and after any illness you have had.
Flossing: Flossing should be done after you brush your teeth. This activity removes any food particles or plaque that can’t be reached by a toothbrush. It also makes it less likely that you will have bad breath, tooth decay or tartar buildup.
Mouthwash: This should be done after you brush and floss. If you swish an antibacterial mouthwash around in your mouth for at least 30 seconds you will further reduce the bacteria in in your mouth that can cause bad breath, gingivitis and cavities. The best kinds of mouthwashes to use will carry the American Dental Association’s (ADA) seal.
Healthy eating and drinking: Establishing a healthy diet full of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, nuts and dairy products will lead to a healthier mouth. Drinking tap water with added fluoride also helps. The ADA found that unhealthy diets can lead to a higher production of plaque acids.
How to Establish a Personal Relationship with a Dentist
The ADA suggests that most people should see a dentist twice a year for checkups and professional dental cleanings. Seeing a dentist on a regular basis will ensure that your dental care provider will be able to catch any issues early on, in addition to knowing your full medical and dental health history. The importance of catching dental issues early on can’t be stressed enough. The earlier something is caught, the easier and cheaper it is to treat.
At your checkups, your dentist will look for signs of cavities, gum disease, bruxism (teeth grinding), TMJ and bite changes. In addition, he or she may have X-rays taken of your mouth to determine if there are any issues like jawbone loss, tooth fractures, abscesses, tumors, etc.
Another element of a routine dental examination is an oral cancer screening. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research found that 3% of cancer diagnoses each year in the United States are oral cancers. According to the Cleveland Clinic, oral cancer is the sixth most common type of cancer in men.
Affordable and High-Quality Dental Care Is Available
Following a proper at-home care routine, as well as having routine checkups and cleanings will ensure that your mouth stays healthy.
To book an appointment with our compassionate dental professionals, call us or make an appointment online.