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Dental Care Basics

Our mouths provide us with the ability to speak, drink, eat and smile. In addition to that, they also serve as the entry to our respiratory and digestive tracts. The Mayo Clinic states that the condition of your mouth plays an important role in your overall health. This means that you need to take care of your teeth and gums. Following dental care basics will help you to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, pneumonia and different types of cancers.

Knowing what to do in order to keep your mouth healthy will ensure that your smile is beautiful and functional throughout your lifetime.

How to Prevent Plaque from Attacking Your Teeth

Whenever you eat food or drink a beverage, a sticky, clear film substance forms on your teeth. This is plaque. Plaque is filled with a type of bacteria that releases acids that will destroy the enamel that is present on your teeth. Enamel is the thin outer covering of the tooth. It is the hardest tissue present in the body. If plaque is left on the teeth, it will continue to attack the enamel, making your teeth more likely to form cavities.

Brushing and flossing every day can keep plaque at bay. However, if you allow it to build up, it will eventually harden into substances called calculus and tartar deposits. These will inflame the gums, causing a condition known as gingivitis.

How Gingivitis Negatively Impacts Your Oral Health

Gingivitis is the first stage of periodontal (gum) disease. It impacts nearly 75% of Americans and is typically the cause behind bleeding gums in adults. This condition is treatable and reversible if it is caught early enough by a dental professional.

If you neglect to treat gingivitis, plaque will continue building up along the gumline and the teeth, where the gingivitis will eventually develop into periodontitis, an advanced form of gum disease. This type of gum disease can cause your teeth to loosen and fall out. Symptoms of gingivitis include:

  • Tender or sore gums
  • Swollen, dark red or purple gums
  • Bleeding during brushing or flossing
  • Bad breath that won’t go away
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Loose teeth
  • Bite changes

To prevent gingivitis from developing, you should get rid of as much plaque as possible. Once you notice any signs of this disease, you should schedule an appointment with a dentist so that it can be treated via the use of special tools that eliminate plaque and tartar buildup from the teeth and gums.

How to Know if You Have a Cavity

Tooth decay, also known as a cavity, happens when the bacteria present in plaque attacks the enamel and dentin, causing permanent damage to the tooth. This damage typically starts out as a tiny hole in the tooth but will eventually develop into a larger cavity that will impact the deeper layers of the tooth. Left untreated, this could cause toothaches, infections and tooth loss.

Cavities are quite common in children, as well as in infants and adults of all ages. Luckily, tooth decay is a preventable problem. Signs that you or someone in your family may have a cavity include:

  • Feeling pain when you bite or chew
  • Experiencing sensitivity to sweet, cold or hot food or beverages
  • Having a sudden toothache
  • Seeing pits or holes in your teeth

Untreated cavities will ultimately destroy your tooth. If infection manages to spread to the root of the tooth, it can result in a painful abscess. It could even lead to serious, sometimes life-threatening complications. This is why it’s important to have cavities taken care of as soon as possible.

Taking Care of Your Teeth and Gums at Home

If you establish good oral hygiene routines at home, you will be able to head off many potential problems with your oral health.

Brushing: The American Dental Association (ADA) says that you should brush your teeth twice a day. You can use a soft-bristle toothbrush or an electric toothbrush to do so. You should also use a toothpaste that contains fluoride. Depending on your needs, your dentist may recommend a personalized oral hygiene plan for you to follow. You should also be sure to:

  • Brush for at least two minutes
  • Brush your tongue
  • Replace your toothbrush if the bristles are worn, or every three months
  • Change your toothbrush if you’ve had a cold, the flu or a mouth infection

Flossing: You should floss every day in order to remove plaque and food particles that can’t be reached by your toothbrush. This will also aid you in preventing tartar building, bad breath and tooth decay.

Mouthwash: An antibacterial mouth rinse can help to reduce the number of bacteria in your mouth, as well as remove any food particles that may remain after brushing and flossing. Swish the mouth rinse for a minimum of 30 seconds. You should choose a mouthwash that has the ADA seal of approval on it.

Healthy eating and drinking: Did you know that your diet can have an impact on your dental health? According to the ADA, consuming foods and drinks that are high in sugars, starches and carbohydrates can increase the production of plaque acids that lead to tooth decay and gum disease. You should eat a diet that includes dairy products, fruits, vegetables, nuts and lean proteins. The ADA also recommends that you drink tap water containing fluoride.

Why You Need to Develop a Personal Relationship with a Dentist

Seeing the same dentist on a consistent basis will allow your dentist to become aware of your complete medical and dental history. This will also allow for your dentist to catch issues early on, before they become more time intensive and expensive to treat. Therefore, consistently visiting your dentist can save you time, stress and money.

The best way to develop this relationship is to see your dentist twice a year for checkups and for dental cleanings. At your appointment, your dentist will perform an examination that will determine if you have anything wrong with your teeth, gums or mouth. This includes signs of tooth decay, gingivitis, bruxism (teeth grinding), TMJ and bite changes. Depending on the status of your oral health or the length of time since your previous visit, your dentist may wish to take X-rays. These X-rays will help the dentist determine if you have bone loss, decay between the teeth, abscess, tooth fractures, cysts or tumors.

Your dentist will also screen you for oral cancer. This potentially fatal disease is diagnosed in approximately 49,700 people in the United States every year. Catching it early on greatly increases your chances of surviving oral cancer. Men are more likely than women to develop this disease, as are smokers and those who drink alcohol.

Get Your Dental Health Care on Track

Establishing a relationship with a local dental professional will help you in achieving your oral health care goals.

Contact our office today via phone or online to book your first appointment with our compassionate, skilled dentists.

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