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Posted on: October 21, 2020
Dental Care Basics
While you probably know that it’s important to take care of your dental health, you may not be aware of the fact that the status of your oral health can have a direct impact on your overall health. Failing to maintain your oral health can lead to issues like heart disease, pneumonia and various types of cancers. This means that in order to have a healthy lifestyle, you need to ensure that your teeth and gums are well taken care of. The best way to do this is to establish an at-home dental care routine, as well as receive regular checkups and professional cleanings.
The following elements of basic dental care are important for you to understand so that you are able to work with your dentist in order to maintain good oral health.
Why You Should Remove Plaque
Even though you can’t see plaque, it can cause a lot of damage to your teeth if gums if it isn’t properly removed. This thin, sticky film is comprised of bacteria that releases acids that break down the enamel of your teeth. Enamel is the hardest tissue present in the human body. However, plaque acids can damage that tissue so much that your teeth become prone to developing cavities.
Failing to remove plaque via daily brushing and flossing will cause it to build up along your gumline and the teeth. This plaque buildup will harden into calculus. If left untreated, this will eventually lead to gingivitis.
Gingivitis is the earliest form of gum (also known as periodontal) disease. It impacts nearly 75% of Americans at some point in their lives. The most common symptom of this problem are bleeding gums. Luckily, the problem is able to be completely reversed if it is caught early enough in the process.
Gingivitis can be difficult to spot. This is because it usually doesn’t cause pain until it has progressed further along. Receiving regular checkups from your dentist is important, since he or she will be able to spot the disease in its earliest stages. Left untreated, gingivitis can turn into an advanced form of gum disease called periodontitis. Advanced stage gum disease is one of the leading causes of tooth loss in adults.
- Some signs that you may have gingivitis include:
- Gums that feel sore or tender
- Swollen and discolored gums
- Gums that bleed during brushing or flossing
- Bad breath
- Teeth that are sensitive when exposed to something hot or cold
- Loose teeth
- Changes to your bite
Keeping your teeth and gums as free of plaque as possible is the best way to prevent gingivitis. If you believe you have this condition, contact your dentist as quickly as possible so that you can have excess plaque and tartar buildup removed from your teeth and gums.
Cavities are also caused by plaque. Whenever you eat or drink something, the bacteria present within the plaque release acids that dissolve the enamel and dentin of the teeth. This eventually leads to tiny holes forming within a tooth. These holes will grow into larger and deeper cavities that can result in infection, toothache and even the loss of the affected tooth.
The Mayo Clinic states that tooth decay and cavities are incredibly common issues around the world. While children are the most likely to be impacted by this problem, infants and older adults can develop cavities as well. Signs of a cavity include:
- Experiencing pain when biting or chewing
- Feeling tooth sensitivity when eating or drinking hot, cold or sweet substances
- Having a spontaneous toothache
- Seeing holes or pits in your tooth or teeth
Many people are unaware that they have a cavity until it has progressed into a larger issue. Regular cleanings and checkups will help in detecting tooth decay early on. Leaving tooth decay and cavities untreated can result in your tooth being damaged beyond repair, as well as bacterial infections that can lead to abscesses. These infections and abscesses can lead to potentially life-threatening complications.
At-home Oral Health Care
In order to keep your mouth in good health, you should perform some basic dental care habits at home.
Brushing: The American Dental Association (ADA) suggests that most people brush their teeth twice a day for at least two minutes. The best kind of toothbrush to use is either a soft-bristle brush or an electric toothbrush. You should use a toothpaste that includes fluoride as one of its ingredients. Other brushing tips that you should consider include:
- Brushing your tongue
- Changing out your toothbrush when the bristles are worn, which is generally every three months
- Replacing your toothbrush when you have had the flu, a mouth infection or a cold
Flossing: Properly flossing after you have brushed your teeth can help remove plaque and particles of food that can’t be reached easily by your toothbrush. Doing this activity daily will assist in the prevention of tooth decay, bad breath and tartar buildup.
Mouthwash: Another activity you can perform daily is to utilize an antibacterial mouth rinse that has been approved by the ADA. You should rinse your mouth for a minimum of 30 seconds after you have brushed and flossed. This helps you to lessen the number of bacteria that causes problems like tooth decay, halitosis and gingivitis.
Healthy eating and drinking: The ADA recommends that you avoid a diet that is high in sugars, starches and carbohydrates. This is because those kinds of foods and beverages lead to an increase in plaque acids.
Why You Should See a Dentist Regularly
The biggest reason why you should see a dentist regularly is so that you have someone who is familiar with your medical and dental history. Regular checkups and cleanings also ensure that any problems you may develop are caught early on, when they are easier and less expensive to treat.
Most people should visit the dentist twice a year for checkups and professional dental cleanings. If you have special oral health care needs, your dentist may recommend that you visit on a more frequent basis. Checkups consist of a thorough examination of your teeth, mouth and gums performed by your dentist. This exam will help the dentist to find early signs of decay and gingivitis. Your dentist may also take X-rays to determine if you have jawbone loss, tooth fractures, abscesses and other hard to detect problems.
Another reason why you should go to the dentist regularly is so that you can have frequent oral cancer screenings. Oral cancer is easiest to treat when it is caught early on. There are an estimated 49,700 new cases of oral cancer diagnosed on an annual basis. This disease is more likely to occur in men, smokers or those who drink alcohol.
Achieve Optimal Oral Health with Excellent Dental Care
Taking great care of your teeth via at-home care, regular checkups and frequent professional cleanings will ensure that your smile looks great for a lifetime.
You can book an appointment with one of our caring dentists online or via the phone. We look forward to seeing you soon.