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Posted on: October 14, 2020
Dental Care Basics
Why Is Oral Health Important?
You can help prevent dental diseases by maintaining good habits at home, avoiding sugary snacks and seeing a dentist for an exam and teeth cleaning twice a year. Good oral health also aids you in eating well, speaking clearly and having a healthy, bright smile you can be proud to show off. The Mayo Clinic states that your mouth serves as the entry point for your digestive ans respiratory tracts, making good oral health central to maintaining your overall health.
How Does Plaque Affect My Dental Health?
If you don’t brush and floss regularly, plaque sticks to your teeth. Plaque contains bacteria, which produces an acid that causes cavities. Calculus, or tartar, is plaque that has hardened. You can’t remove tartar with brushing or flossing; a dental hygienist has to scrape it off using special tools.
How Does Gingivitis Present on Teeth?
Besides cavities, plaque can cause gingivitis. This is the mildest form of gum disease where your gums become irritated from tarter at the gumline. It’s important to recognize these early warning signs of gingivitis, since your dentist can reverse it with treatment:
- Gums which look shiny
- Red, not healthy pink, gums
- Puffy gums
- Noticeable blood when you spit after brushing or flossing
Catching gingivitis early and reversing it can prevent the disease from potentially progressing to periodontal disease. You can lose teeth if you develop advanced gum disease as your tooth’s support structure becomes damaged. If you notice signs of gingivitis, please contact us to schedule an appointment. Treatment is often as simple as having a professional teeth cleaning and learning new and better oral hygiene habits to use at home.
What Are the First Signs of Cavities?
Cavities are holes in your teeth caused by decay. Acid from plaque will dissolve a portion of the tooth enamel and create a hole in the tooth’s inner layers. When decay gets past the tooth enamel and into the dentin or pulp, the damage is irreversible. You must get the cavity cleaned out and filled or it will continue to get larger.
Both children and adults get cavities. If you notice a tooth is suddenly sensitive to hot or cold or is suddenly painful, you may have a cavity. If the cavity has been in your mouth a while, you may notice a dark hole, stained from food and drinks that a toothbrush couldn’t reach. Cavities are often not painful at first, making regular exams important. You want your dentist to catch the cavity before it reaches the pulp and causes you severe pain. You can help avoid cavities by limiting sugary beverages, sticky candy and brushing your teeth often.
How to Have an Effective At-home Dental Care Regimen
Below are basics you should follow to make your routine more effective.
Brushing: Everyone knows how to brush their teeth, right? Many of us actually don’t brush correctly. Cavities and gum disease are too prevalent for us to be a nation of good brushers. To brush your teeth the right way, you should:
- Use a soft bristle or electric toothbrush and ADA-approved fluoride toothpaste.
- Hold the brush at a 45-degree angle
- Use short strokes
- Be sure to brush both the inside and outside of your teeth, along with the chewing surfaces
- Brush for at least two minutes
You may be rushed in the morning and temped to skip everything but a cursory brushing, but good oral care is an investment in your future oral health.
Flossing: You should floss at least once a day with waxed dental floss to dislodge food stuck between your teeth. You can save time if you use a Waterpick or other water flossers. Floss before brushing your teeth to remove the food particles from your mouth; otherwise they will stay in your mouth.
Mouthwashes: While there are cosmetic mouthwashes designed to freshen breath, most are antiseptics which kill bacterial plaque. If you’re unsure regarding which mouthwash or rinse is best for you, ask your dentist or hygienist for recommendations and be sure to follow the directions for use.
Healthy Eating: What you eat can have a profound effect on your oral health. Try to avoid sugary drinks and select a more healthy diet. If it’s impossible, drink water afterwards to wash off the plaque that forms. Using a straw can help keep sugary drinks away from your teeth. Foods with a lot of starch, like chips and breads, can contribute to tooth decay according to the American Dental Association. The starch breaks down into sugar, which creates acid-producing bacteria.
Why Should I Visit a Regular Dentist?
You can maintain your dental health more easily if you have a dentist you see every six months for routine exams and a cleaning. If you don’t, you’ll end up seeing a dentist when you need work you can’t put off any longer because of the pain. Cavities and gum disease can cause serious damage if they are not caught and treated when they are minor problems.
During your routine exam, your dentist will check your mouth for signs of oral cancer. In its early stage, there is no pain and very few, if any, symptoms. While tobacco use and heavy are the primary risk factors, oral cancer can affect anyone, even non-smokers. Your dentist can discuss your risk factors with you, which also include the HPV virus and significant sun exposure over time.
According the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, oral cancer makes up about 3 percent of cancers diagnosed each year in the United States. That usually translates to about 49,700 new cases per year, making early detection and preventative care essential. Unfortunately, many individuals don’t know they have oral cancer until it is a later stage, where there is a lower survival rate.
Those more at risk include men, smokers and heavy alcohol drinkers. Have a conversation with your dentist to ensure you are aware of the risks and getting a regular screening.
Where Can I Find High-quality Dental Care?
We offer high-quality, affordable care to members of our community. Please use our online contact form or call us to make an appointment. We look forward to helping you maintain the good-looking, healthy smile you deserve.