ORAL HYGIENE CARE
Maintaining good oral hygiene is one of the most important things you can do for your teeth and gums. Healthy teeth not only enable you to look and feel good, they make it possible to eat and speak properly. Good oral health is important to your overall well-being. Daily preventive care, including proper brushing and flossing, will help stop problems before they develop.
In between regular visits to the dentist, there are simple steps that each of us can take to greatly decrease the risk of developing tooth decay, gum disease and other dental problems. These include:
Brush thoroughly twice a day and floss daily
Eat a balanced diet and limit snacks between meals
Use dental products which contain fluoride, including toothpaste
Rinse with a flouride mouth rinse if advised to do so
Make sure children under 12 drink fluoridated water or take a fluoride supplement if they live in a non-fluoridated area
Visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and oral exams
Replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months
The following are indications of good oral hygiene:
Your teeth are clean and free of debris
Gums are pink and do not hurt or bleed when you brush or floss
Bad breath is not a constant problem
A dental cleaning is a professional cleaning you receive from a dentist or dental hygienist. Most dental cleanings take only between 25 and 30 minutes. Cleanings should be performed every six months to prevent excessive plaque buildup. Plaque left untreated can lead to unhealthy gums and tooth decay. A routine dental cleaning should include scaling, root planing and polishing.
Scaling: this is the process of removing plaque and tartar from all tooth surfaces in a variety of methods, depending on the amount of plaque and tartar.
Dental hygienists traditionally perform scaling by hand. However, new and advanced technology has lead to more modern methods such as electric scalers. This sophisticated tool allows dental cleanings to be performed more efficiently and in less time. To achieve best results, both electric and manual scaling methods are combined for dental cleanings.
Root planing: this is the process of cleaning pockets in the gums to treat and prevent gum problems.
Root planing is used to treat moderate to advanced gum diseases. When the gum is inflamed, gum pockets become deeper and may lose connections to the bone inside. The deeper the pockets, the easier it is for plaque deposits to become trapped and worsen gum problems.
Root planing involves inserting a pointed dental tool called scalers into the gum pockets to clean plaque buildup. Depending on the degree of difficulty, root planing may take several appointments and a local anesthesia may be used to prevent pain.
Polishing: this is the last step in tooth cleaning and involves finishing the surface of the teeth to make them shiny and clean.
There are two kinds of polishing: air polishing and rubber tip polishing. Air polishing works by spraying high pressured water mixed with baking soda paste onto the surface of your teeth. This powered water washes away residue and plaque while baking soda removes stains. Rubber cup polishing uses a low-speed and gentle handpiece that contains a polishing paste made of abrasive ingredients ideal for removing stains.
Sealants are used to fill narrow grooves in a tooth that cannot be adequately cleaned by brushing. In some cases, the tooth structure has fine grooves or pits which accumulate plaque, not because the person doesn’t brush, but because they’re too narrow to allow even one bristle into them. To avoid cavaties developing over time, the dentist will brush on a coating that seals the grooves and pits, making it possible to brush off all the plaque and keep your teeth healthy.
Bonding involves adhering composite resin material that is matched to the color of the tooth, to the front of the tooth. This is performed to repair damage caused by decay, to alter the alignment of the tooth, close gaps between the teeth, or for other cosmetic purposes.
First the surface of the tooth is roughened in order to accept the bonding. A gel is applied so the resin will adhere to the surface of the tooth. The composite is then placed on the tooth and the bonding agent hardens with intense light. The last step is shaping and polishing to give a lustrous finish.
A filling is a way to restore a tooth damaged by decay back to its normal function and shape. If you have a tooth that requires a filling, the dentist will first remove the decayed tooth material, clean the affected area, and then fill the cleaned out cavity with a filling material. A filling helps prevent further decay by closing off any cracks or spaces where bacteria can enter.
There are a variety of filling materials available including gold, silver, plastic and porcelain. The dentist will work with you to determine which material is best, depending on the extent of repair, where in the filling is needed, and cost. Each filling material is briefly explained below:
· Gold fillings are custom made in a laboratory and then cemented into place. While gold fillings are often the most expensive choice, many consider it the best filling material. Gold inlays are well-tolerated by gum tissues and may last more than 20 years.
· Amalgam (silver) fillings are a more inexpensive choice and are tolerant to wear. However, due to their dark color they are more noticeable than porcelain or composite restorations and are not recommended for fillings in very visible areas such as front teeth.
· Composite (plastic) resins are custom made to the exact color of your natural teeth, creating a more natural appearance. While white fillings may be less noticeable than other materials, they usually only last between 3 and 10 years and may not be ideal for large fillings as they may chip or wear over time. They can also become stained from coffee, tea or tobacco.
· Porcelain fillings are called inlays or onlays and are custom created in a lab and then bonded to the tooth. They can be matched to the color of the tooth, resist staining, and are about the same cost as gold fillings. A porcelain restoration generally covers most of the tooth, making the filling nearly undetectable.
If decay or a fracture has damaged a large portion of the tooth, a crown (or “cap”) may be recommended. Decay that has reached the nerve may be treated through root canal therapy or through a procedure called pulp capping.
NON-SURGICAL GUM TREATMENT
The gums, ligaments, and bone around the teeth form the foundation for teeth. All structures are also referred to as the periodontium. When the periodontium is not healthy, it jeopardizes the teeth just as a bad foundation would threaten the stability of a house. Signs of unhealthy periodontium include: gums that are red and bleed easily, persistent bad breath, gums that are pulled away from the tooth, loose teeth, and changes in the position or bite of the teeth. With proper gum treatments, it may be possible to return gum tissue to a healthy state. If you’re having a problem, come in and see us so we may treat it right away. The treatment usually involves a deep cleaning or root planing done under a local anesthetic, along with local antibiotic agents. It is important to have gum problems checked promtly, as gum disease left alone may eventually need treatment through sugery or extraction.