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Dental Care Basics

Our mouths do a lot of work. Mouths make it possible to eat, drink, speak and smile. When our mouths are unhealthy, it can impact our ability to do those essential tasks. You need to ensure that your teeth and gums are kept healthy so that your mouth can function properly and look great. In addition, great oral health reduces your risk of having heart disease, pneumonia and different types of cancers.

Becoming educated on the following dental care basics will help you to establish healthy habits that will keep your dental and overall health in good shape for years to come.

Plaque Removal

Plaque is a clear, sticky film that sticks to the teeth after you consume foods or beverages. It harbors invisible bacteria that release acids that wear down and attack the enamel and dentin on your teeth. The bacteria present in plaque is what causes gum disease and cavities.

A failure to properly address plaque leads to an accumulation of plaque on the teeth and along the gumline. At this point, it will harden into something called calculus, which will in turn develop into gingivitis (gum inflammation).

The Importance of Preventing Gingivitis

Gingivitis is the first stage of periodontal (gum) disease and is the primary reason why adults experience bleeding gums. This disease is rather common and can be easily treated if it is caught in the early stages.

Ignoring gingivitis can cause several severe problems down the road. The plaque will continue to accumulate until it advances into severe gum disease. Severe gum disease is also known as periodontitis. This condition is one of the primary causes of adults losing their teeth.

If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, you may have gingivitis.

  • Tender or sore gums
  • Swollen gums
  • Dark red or purple gums
  • Bleeding gums
  • Bad breath
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Loose teeth
  • Bite changes

If you’ve noticed any of the above symptoms, you should schedule an appointment for treatment immediately. The earlier you have the problem treated, the more successful your treatment outcome will be.

Understanding How Cavities Form

In addition to causing gum disease, plaque acids are also responsible for the formation of cavities (also known as tooth decay). The plaque acids attack the enamel and dentin of the tooth, causing tiny holes to develop in the tooth. If these holes aren’t treated, they will form into larger and deeper cavities that will result in infection, toothache and even tooth loss.

Cavities are an incredibly common condition that affect people of all ages. Signs and symptoms of cavities include:

  • Feeling pain whenever you bite down or chew
  • Experiencing sensitivity when eating or drinking sweet, cold or hot food and drink
  • Having spontaneous toothaches
  • Seeing pits or holes in your tooth or teeth

Since cavities often don’t hurt until they have progressed into something more serious, it is important that you have regular checkups so that they can be caught in their earliest stages. If you don’t have a cavity treated properly, it can develop into a bacterial infection that can lead to extremely painful abscesses. Untreated cavities can also lead to serious, occasionally life-threatening, complications.

All About At-Home Dental Care

Making sure that you have good oral hygiene habits at home can assist in having a happy and healthy mouth.

Brushing: The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that you brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. This can be done with a soft-bristle or electric toothbrush. In addition, you should also:

  • Brush for at least two minutes
  • Brush your tongue
  • Replace your toothbrush whenever the bristles are worn, usually around every three months
  • Change your toothbrush immediately after you’ve had any illness

Flossing: Your toothbrush can’t reach areas like between the teeth and under your gumline. This is why it’s important that you floss every day. Flossing daily keeps tartar from building up. It also prevents tooth decay and halitosis (bad breath).

Mouthwash: The ADA has several ADA-approved antibacterial mouth rinses that you can use to remove food particles and further reduce the levels of bacteria in your mouth. You should utilize mouthwash after brushing and flossing. Make sure you swish the rinse around for approximately 30 seconds.

Healthy eating and drinking: Eating a healthy diet is an overlooked aspect of dental care. The ADA found that eating a diet full of carbohydrates, sugars and starches can lead to increased plaque acids in the mouth. Therefore, you should be sure to eat a balanced diet of lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, dairy products and nuts. You should also be sure to drink tap water that has had fluoride added to it.

Establishing a Personal Relationship with a Dentist

Going to a dentist on a regular basis allows your dentist to know your full medical and dental health history. It also allows for any potential issues to be addressed early on. Catching dental issues in their earliest stages results in less time intensive and less expensive treatment methods.

The ADA suggests that you visit your dentist for checkups and cleanings twice a year. If you have special oral health needs, your dentist may recommend that you come in on a more frequent basis. At your checkups, a thorough examination of your mouth will be conducted. This examination will help the dentist find any signs of cavities, gingivitis, teeth grinding, changes in bite and TMJ. The dentist may also take X-rays to determine if any issues like abscesses, tooth fractures, bone loss in the jaw, etc. are occurring.

Most dentists will also perform an oral cancer screening. Oral cancer is a potentially fatal disease that is best treated in its earliest stages. Men are at a high risk of developing it, as are smokers and those who drink alcohol on a regular basis.

Keep Your Mouth Healthy with High-quality Dental Care

If you are in need of high-quality and affordable dental care, contact us via phone or online to schedule your first appointment with one of our compassionate dental care providers.

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