Maintaining Dental Health
Maintaining dental health has two main components — at-home dental hygiene and professional cleanings and examinations. Simple maintenance of your dental health can prevent complications such as tooth loss, as well as the need for restorative or cosmetic dentistry in the future.
How can I prevent tooth decay and gum disease?
Good oral hygiene starts at home, though it needs to be supplemented by regular visits to our cosmetic and general dentistry practice, Shoreline Smiles. Steps you can take to prevent tooth decay and gum disease include:
Brush at least twice daily using a soft-bristle toothbrush and an ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste. This helps prevent tooth decay, gum disease, and the need for costly cosmetic or restorative dentistry in the future. Replace your brush every two to three months.
Flossing is crucial to the health of your teeth and gums and the prevention of gum disease. When flossing, use an 18-inch strand of floss. Ease the floss between each tooth; then, sweep it up and down several times while curving around the tooth at the gum line. Don’t forget to floss behind your last tooth and to floss bridges and artificial teeth with the aid of a floss threader.
Regular dental visits
At every regularly-scheduled dental appointment at Shoreline Smiles, one of our dentists will carefully check your teeth, gums, mouth, and throat. A checkup at the Shoreline Smiles dental office includes:
A head and neck examination: This includes a cancer exam, facial exam, palpation of chewing muscles, palpation of lymph nodes, and an exam of the temporomandibular (jaw) joint. A clinical dental examination: This includes a periodontal exam and examinations of the mobility of teeth, the mucous membranes, saliva, occlusion (bite), removable appliances, and contact between teeth. If we detect tooth decay or broken fillings, we will discuss appropriate action with you. A full set of digital X-rays
A dental cleaning (prophylaxis): This includes scaling plaque, polishing teeth, flossing, assessing your mouth’s cleanliness, and providing oral hygiene instructions. If you wish to learn more about proper brushing and flossing techniques, ask your dentist about it at this stage of the visit.
Following the clinical dental exam, your dentist will discuss a detailed treatment plan, if necessary. One of our friendly receptionists will schedule a follow-up visit for you.
Regular dental visits, along with a thorough home care regimen, are key to a lifetime of good oral health. General dentistry of this type can prevent the need for cosmetic or restorative dentistry later in life.
How does fluoride help prevent tooth decay?
Fluoride helps reverse and prevent tooth decay in three ways:
1. Promoting Tooth Remineralization
Acids can demineralize a tooth — that is, create a weak spot that develops into a cavity. Fluoride helps promote the opposite process, called remineralization, which can reverse the very early stages of tooth decay.
2. Helping Teeth Become More Resistant to Tooth Decay
Fluoride actually strengthens teeth, giving them natural protection against future tooth decay.
3. Inhibiting Oral Bacteria’s Ability to Create Tooth-Attacking Acids
Fluoride disrupts bacteria’s ability to metabolize sugars, the process that leads to the attack of tooth enamel.
What are the stages of gum disease? How is gum disease treated?
Gum disease has several stages. The initial stage is called gingivitis and is an infection of the gingival (gum tissue). In this stage, gums become red, swollen, and prone to bleeding. The underlying bone is unaffected. In later stages, however, gum disease can lead to bone loss and the loosening or even loss of teeth.
Gum disease treatment varies according to the stage of the disease. At its mildest stages, gingivitis can be treated by clearing plaque and tartar deposits from the gum pockets. Severe gum disease, on the other hand, might require treatment that includes bone and gum grafts.
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