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Dental Care Basics

Taking care of your mouth properly ensures that you’re able to eat, drink, speak and smile. In addition to those essential functions, having a healthy mouth also reduces your risk of developing conditions like heart disease, pneumonia and certain kinds of cancers. That means that keeping your teeth and gums as healthy as possible is the key to maintaining your overall health.

Educating yourself on dental care basics will help you to stay healthy while enjoying having a beautiful smile for years to come.

The Basics of Plaque

You may already be aware of plaque’s bad reputation. Plaque is the sticky, clear film that is responsible for causing tooth decay and gum (periodontal) disease. This substance accumulates on the teeth after you eat and drink. It is full of bacteria that release acids that will wear down the tooth’s enamel and dentin, leaving a tooth susceptible to decay.

Failing to remove plaque every day via brushing and flossing will cause the substance to build up on your teeth and along your gumline. It will then form into a hard substance called calculus. If left untreated, this problem will eventually lead to the inflammation of the gums. This condition is also known as gingivitis.

Learning About Gingivitis

Gingivitis is the earliest stage of periodontal disease. It is the leading cause of bleeding gums in adults. It is also estimated to impact at least 75% of Americans at some point within their lifetimes.

Many people don’t realize that they have gingivitis until they develop a more advanced form of gum disease. Luckily, your dentist is trained in spotting gingivitis in its earliest stages. This makes regular visits to your dentist an important element of preventing gum disease. If you don’t treat gingivitis, it will eventually develop into an advanced form of gum disease known as periodontitis. Periodontitis is one of the main causes behind adults losing their teeth.

Some indications that you may have gingivitis include:

  • Tender or sore gums
  • Inflamed gums
  • Dark red or purple gums
  • Bad breath
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Loose teeth
  • Bite changes

In order to prevent gingivitis from occurring you need to eliminate as much plaque from your mouth as is possible. If you believe that you have gingivitis, book an appointment with a dentist today to have the condition treated properly.

Understanding Cavities

As was mentioned earlier, tooth decay (also known as dental caries or cavities) is also caused by plaque. When you eat and drink, the acids released by plaque attack the teeth, breaking down the enamel and causing tiny holes to form. These will gradually increase in size and depth, resulting in toothaches, infections and even tooth loss.

Cavities are an incredibly common problem worldwide. While most people associate cavities with children, it is important to know that even infants and adults can develop this problem. Symptoms of cavities include:

  • Feeling pain when you bite or chew
  • Having a tooth that is sensitive to hot, cold or sweet foods and beverages
  • Experiencing spontaneous toothaches
  • Seeing pits or holes in one or more teeth

Your dentist will be able to catch cavities in their earliest stages if you visit the dentist regularly. Leaving cavities untreated can cause serious, even life-threatening complications. These complications include bacterial infections and abscesses.

How to Have a Great At-home Oral Hygiene Routine

Establishing a consistent oral hygiene routine at home is an excellent way to keep your mouth healthy.

Brushing: This should be done twice a day for at least two minutes. The best kinds of toothbrushes to use for this task are soft-bristle or electric brushes. You should be sure that the toothpaste you are using contains fluoride, as this helps to prevent tooth decay from occurring. Other brushing tips include:

  • Brushing the tongue
  • Replacing the toothbrush every three months (or sooner if the bristles become worn)
  • Changing the toothbrush if you’ve had any kind of illness or mouth infection

Flossing: After you have brushed your teeth, you should floss to remove food particles and plaque from in between the teeth and under the gumline. This practice helps to prevent problems like halitosis, tooth decay and tartar buildup.

Mouthwash: Once you have brushed and flossed, you should swish around an ADA-approved antibacterial mouth rinse for approximately 30 seconds. This will enable you to reduce the levels of bacteria present within your mouth.

Healthy eating and drinking: This often-overlooked element of oral health care is an important one. A diet full of carbohydrates, sugars and starches can lead to an increase in the acids produced by plaque. Balanced diets lead to less of this problem. You should also be sure to drink plenty of tap water containing fluoride.

How Consistency in Dental Care Benefits You

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that you see your dentist twice a year for checkups and professional dental cleanings. These visits allow your dentist to get to know your medical and dental history, as well as address any issues that may pop up early on. When it comes to dental care, early detection is the key to saving you time, money and stress.

Professional dental cleanings consist of a dental hygienist utilizing special tools to remove plaque and tartar that have built up on the teeth and along the gumline. Checkups consist of your dentist performing a thorough examination of your teeth, gums and mouth in order to find any signs of tooth decay, gum disease, bruxism (teeth grinding) and other issues. In addition to that examination, your dentist may desire to take X-rays of your mouth. This helps to detect issues such as bone loss in the jaw, tooth fractures, decay between the teeth, abscesses, etc.

Another reason why you should see your dentist regularly is so that you can receive oral cancer screenings. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research says that there are about 49,700 new cases diagnosed each year. Populations who are at a higher risk of being diagnosed with oral cancer include men, smokers and those who drink alcohol.

Keep Your Mouth Healthy for Lifetime

It’s important to follow the above dental care basics so that you can have a healthy smile for the rest of your life. To make an appointment with one of our compassionate dental professionals, call us or book your appointment with us online.

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