The Importance of Regular Exams
Because of our commitment to preventive dental care, we recommend a checkup every six months. Most dental problems start small, but then they go through a rapid growth phase. Regular checkups enable us to catch these problems before they become serious conditions:
- Plaque buildup
- Cracked or leaking fillings
- Bad bite
Serious conditions begin as treatable problems
Plaque, which is sticky film of food and bacteria that forms constantly on your teeth, can harden in as little as 124 hours to become tartar. Even with proper brushing and flossing, most people aren’t able to remove all the plaque every day. The result is tartar buildup.
Plaque and tartar buildup are the main cause of gingivitis, which is an inflammation that makes gums swell and bleed. Gingivitis is reversible, but if it’s not treated it can lead to periodontal disease, which is an infection that causes receding gums, bone loss and sometimes tooth loss.
The bacteria in plaque also causes tooth decay. A small cavity can easily be fixed, but if it grows into the softer inner dentin layer of the tooth, it can reach the pulp chamber very quickly, causing pain and further infection.
Failed fillings can also lead to more decay. Unless it’s treated early, decay will most likely lead to a need for root canal treatment and crowns.
Misaligned or missing teeth can contribute to problems with jaw joint, such as pain and soreness, difficulty in opening and closing your mouth, and earaches.
Regular checkups allow us to treat problems early
To keep these dental problems for becoming serious, we recommend twice yearly checkups. Regular cleanings enable us to keep tartar from accumulating on your teeth. During your regular visits, we will also perform a thorough exam to check your gums, measure the bone levels around your teeth, look for cavities, check your restorations, and examine your bite.
Regular exams are the best way to eliminate the growth phase of dental problems, and minimize the time and money you spend in the dental chair.
Whether you use a manual toothbrush or an electric toothbrush, proper tooth brushing involves these things:
The proper tools:
A soft toothbrush
A soft brush is kinder to your teeth and gums, and also makes it much easier to remove the plaque below the gumline, where periodontal disease starts.
Toothpaste with fluoride
Use a pea-sized amount ot toothpaste that contains fluoride. Fluoride hardens the outer enamel layer of the teeth. It also might stop a cavity in it’s tracks and will give you more resistance to future cavities.
The right technique
The correct angle of brushing
Angle the bristles of the brush along the gumline at a 45-degree angle and apply gentle pressure so the bristles slide under the gumline. Vibrate the brush while you move it in short back and forth strokes and in smaller circular motions. Brush two or three teeth at a time and then move on to the next tooth, allowing some overlap. To brush the backs of the front teeth, tilt the brush and use the tip of the brush.
Brushing in a pattern
It’s fine to brush in any regular pattern you choose, but since the insides of the teeth tends to get less attention, you might start with the insides of the upper teeth, then go to the insides of the lower teeth. Next switch to the outsides of the upper teeth, and then the outsides of the lower teeth, and end by gently brushing your tongue and the roof of your mouth. This removes bacteria and keeps your breath fresh.
Brushing after breakfast and before bed
The timing of your brushing is important too. Brushing after breakfast cleans away the morning’s food debris and prevents the bacteria that naturally live in your mouth from leaving behind the destructive acid they produce when they digest that food. And brushing your teeth before bedtime protects your teeth all night. Using the brushing techniques, your teeth and gums will stay fresh and healthy.
Why is flossing important?
Most cavities and periodontal disease begin between the teeth. While brushing is important, the bristles of your toothbrush simply don’t remove plaque and bacteria from between the teeth. That’s why we recommend that you floss every day.
How to floss
Don’t worry about the type of floss because they all work pretty much the same. Choose the type of floss you like. Wind 18 inches of floss around the middle fingers of each hand. Leave about five(5) inches between your hands. Pinch the floss between your thumbs and index fingers and leave about one (1) inch in between to work with.
Gently guide the floss down between the teeth using a side-to-side motion. If your teeth are too tight for floss, or if it catches or tears, please let us know about it. These are problems that need to be fixed.
Pull the floss tightly in a c-shape around the side of the tooth and slide it under the gumline. Clean the surface of the tooth by moving the floss up and down several times to remove all the food and bacteria. Then pull the floss around the next tooth and repeat the process. Wind the floss to a fresh section and gradually work your way around your mouth, cleaning both sides of every tooth. if you have problems reaching some areas, you may want to use a floss fork.
If your gums are infected, they’ll bleed when you floss. That’s to be expected if you are just beginning to floss. After a week or so of regular flossing, the bleeding should go away and you’ll be well on your way to healthier teeth and gums.
What causes bad breath?
Bad breath also known as halitosis, is often easily treatable. There are several causes of bad breath:
- Strong foods like garlic and onions
- Periodontal disease
- Dry mouth
- Various medical conditions
- Improper or inconsistent dental homecare
Treating bad breath
Eliminating the bacteria found on your tongue and gums is one of the first steps in getting rid of bad breath. The tongue surface is made up of many tiny fissures. Small particles of food can get trapped in these fissures and begin to decompose. A type of bacteria called anaerobic bacteria thrives in these areas, where there is little or no oxygen. Bad breath odor occurs when these bacteria produce a common compound called sulfur.
Periodontal disease or gum disease is another source of sulfur-producing bacteria. The plaque and tarter that build up around your teeth and gums create pockets that trap food and bacteria and create an environment where sulfur is produced. It’s fortunate that the treatment of periodontal disease will also help treat the bad breath symptoms.
When we treat bad breath, we first remove the sulfur-producing bacteria from your mouth during a professional cleaning. If your bad breath was caused by dry mouth, we’ll investigate the causes and suggest treatment options. We’ll also let you know if we discover signs of any medical conditions.
Next, we’ll work with you to set up a homecare routine that will include daily brushing and flossing and may also include tongue cleaning and an anti-bacterial rinse. We may also suggest several return appointments to monitor your success and fine tune your efforts.
Bad breath is uncomfortable and embarrassing, but the good news is that with the right tools, regular care in our office and the proper home care routine, it’s reversible. With treatment, you’ll notice improvement right away and soon be enjoying fresh breath and a healthier mouth.
The dangers of toothbrush abrasion
We all know that we need to brush and floss everyday. proper brushing removes food debris and bacteria from teeth. Improper brushing can be abrasive and destructive, causing problems like:
- Receding gums
- Wearing away of the tooth root
- Sensitive teeth
- Weaker teeth
Change your habits – Brush properly
Sometimes it’s hard to tell if you’re brushing destructively and brushing habits can be hard to break. To avoid destructive tooth brushing, keep these factors in mind:
A soft toothbrush
Choose a soft toothbrush. A soft toothbrush also makes it much easier to remove the plaque below the gumline, where periodontal disease starts. You can make the bristles even softer by running hot water over them before use.
A non-abrasive toothpaste with fluoride
Use a pea sized amount of non-abrasive toothpaste with fluoride. Toothpastes that are labeled “whitening” or “tartar control” can sometimes be too rough on receding gums and exposed roots, wearing away the roots protective layer. You can be sure a toothpaste is non-abrasive if it’s labeled “sensitive”.
Use proper brushing technique. Angle the bristles of the brush along the gumline at a 45-degree angle and apply while you move it in short back-and-forth strokes and in small circular motions.
Don’t brush too hard. If you’re not sure whether you’re pressing too hard, hold the end of the brush with two fingers. That will give you enough force to get the job done without doing any damage. You can also check your brush bristles. If they’re bent over or broken, you’ve probably been pressing too hard. If you find that you have a hard time brushing gently, consider using an electric toothbrush. They make it much easier to use less pressure.
If you have any concerns about your brushing, please tell us. We can show you what you need to know to keep your mouth healthy and bacteria-free without damaging your teeth.
When you’ve lost bone due to periodontal disease, it takes new tools and techniques to clean the plaque off your teeth.
In a healthy mouth, the space between the tooth and gums (called the sulcus) is normally 2-3 millimeters deep. And that’s how far below the gums you can effectively clean with a toothbrush and floss. With periodontal disease the sulcus deepens. It’s now greater than three millimeters and we call it a pocket.
Another problem in periodontal disease has to do with the shape of the tooth roots. If there is no periodontal disease, the bone level is high and the gums attach at the necks of the teeth.
You can wrap floss around this surface and do a thorough job of keeping plaque off of your teeth. But in periodontal disease, the attachment shifts and you lose bone. This exposes the root surfaces, which have indentations. Floss stretches across these indentations and can’t remove the plaque.
Special cleaning tools
Special tools are necessary to reach down beyond the normal three millimeters to thoroughly clean the indentations in the sides of the roots in a pocket. Each tool is useful in different areas of your mouth.
We’ll be happy to work with you to custom tailor a plaque-removal program using these special tools and techniques.