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Dental Care Basics

Your mouth carries out essential functions. It allows you to speak, drink, eat and smile. It also serves as the entry point to your respiratory and digestive systems. This means that it is important to take good care of your mouth. In order to do this, you should see your dental health care provider on a regular basis for checkups and cleanings. You also need to take care of your teeth at home. Doing this will reduce your risk of developing heart disease, pneumonia and certain kinds of cancers.

Knowing how to properly take care of your teeth and gums is an essential element of a healthy smile.

The Importance of Removing Plaque

While you can’t see plaque with the naked eye, it can do a lot of damage to your teeth and gums. This clear, sticky substance covers the surface of the teeth whenever you eat or drink. It contains bacteria that release acid that breaks down the enamel of your teeth, making your teeth more likely to form cavities.

The best way to get rid of plaque is to brush and floss every day. If you don’t do this, the plaque will build up on the teeth and on your gumline. This buildup eventually develops into calculus. This calculus can then lead to your gums becoming inflamed, which is a condition that is referred to as gingivitis.

Understanding the Impact of Gingivitis

Were you aware that an estimated 75% of people in the United States will experience gingivitis at some point in their lifetimes? Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease (also called periodontal disease) and is the leading cause behind bleeding gums. If it is caught in its earliest stages, it is completely reversible.

Since gingivitis doesn’t typically cause pain, many people don’t realize that they have it until it has progressed further. Your dentist will be able to tell if you have gingivitis by looking at your gums during your checkups. If you don’t treat your gingivitis, it will advance into periodontitis. This is an advanced form of gum disease that can cause tooth loss.

You may have gingivitis if you have experienced any of the following symptoms:

  • Tender or sore gums
  • Discolored gums that are also inflamed
  • Gums that bleed during brushing or flossing
  • Bad breath
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Loose teeth
  • A change in your bite

If you believe you have periodontal disease, you should contact your dentist and book an appointment so that you can have the issue treated effectively. Your dental hygienist will be able to remove any plaque or tartar buildup from your teeth and gums with special equipment.

How Cavities Negatively Impact Your Oral Health

Did you know that tooth decay and cavities are some of the most common health problems in the world? This condition affects children, adults and even infants. Tooth decay is caused by the same bacteria that is found in plaque. The acids released by that bacteria cause the enamel and dentin covering the surface of the tooth to deteriorate. This leads to small holes forming in the teeth. These are known as cavities. Cavities will grow larger and deeper if left untreated. Large cavities can lead to infections, toothaches and the loss of teeth.

You may have a cavity if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • A tooth that is sensitive to foods and drinks that are hot, cold or sweet
  • A spontaneous toothache that happens for no discernible reason
  • Pain in the tooth when you bite down or chew
  • A visible pit or hole in your tooth

It’s important that you catch cavities early on and have them treated immediately. That’s because cavities can cause a bacterial infection that can spread to the root of your tooth. These infections can lead to abscesses and can sometimes cause life-threatening complications.

How to Care for Your Teeth at Home

The best way to avoid gingivitis and cavities is to follow an at-home oral hygiene routine. Following the below actions can keep your teeth and gums healthy.

Brushing: While your dentist may create a custom plan for you based on your dental needs, the general consensus is that you should be brushing your teeth twice a day. To do this properly you will need a soft-bristle or electric toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Other things to consider when brushing your teeth are:

  • You should brush your teeth for approximately two minutes
  • The tongue should be brushed as well
  • If you have had a mouth infection or been ill in any way you should change out your toothbrush immediately afterwards
  • You should replace your toothbrush approximately every three months or as soon as the bristles appear to be worn

Flossing: You should floss every day. This is because your toothbrush can’t reach the places between your teeth and under your gumline. By flossing after you brush, you will remove more food particles and plaque, preventing tooth decay, bad breath and tartar buildup.

Mouthwash: Utilizing an antibacterial mouth rinse that has been approved by the American Dental Association (ADA) is another way that you can reduce the levels of bacteria in your mouth. Swishing a mouthwash around for around 30 seconds after you have brushed and flossed can help you to eliminate bad breath, tooth decay and gingivitis.

Healthy eating and drinking: Another way you can improve your oral health is to eat a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, nuts, dairy products and lean proteins. Studies conducted by the ADA have shown that unhealthy diets lead to an increased production of plaque acids. You should also drink tap water that has been treated with fluoride.

Why You Need to See a Dentist Regularly

Seeing your dentist at least twice a year ensures that he or she will know your full medical and dental history. It also increases the chances that any issues that pop up will be found early on. This will save you time and money.

As mentioned earlier, you should be seeing your dentist twice a year for checkups and dental cleanings. Some people may need to see the dentist more frequently than that. During your checkup, the dentist will look for signs of cavities, gum disease, bruxism, TMJ and bite changes. X-rays may be done so that the dentist can look for any signs of bone loss, tooth decay between the teeth, fractures, abscesses, tumors and cysts.

Your examination will also consist of an oral cancer screening. It’s important catch oral cancer early on so that you have a higher chance of receiving successful treatment for it. Men are more likely than women to have oral cancer. Drinking alcohol and smoking also put you at a higher risk of developing the disease.

Receive Excellent Dental Care

If you’re ready to receive top-notch dental health care, pick up the phone and call our office today. Or you can schedule an appointment online. We look forward to meeting all of your dental health care needs.

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