Caused when bacteria erodes the tooth enamel, entering the inner structures of dentin, pulp, and roots, tooth decay is a preventable condition. With proper oral hygiene, most types of tooth decay are avoidable. It is caused when plaque is allowed to remain on the tooth. This sticky, colorless substance is created on a regular basis as the result of eating and drinking most types of foods and beverages, particularly those with high sugar content.
Plaque provides the perfect environment for the growth of the bacteria that lead to tooth decay. The bacteria can also create irritation to the gums, leading to periodontal disease. Bacterial infection can lead to infection, tooth loss, and damage to existing tooth restorations.
Tooth decay also occurs when the tooth enamel is damaged through chipping or cracking, enabling bacteria to enter the inner sanctum of the tooth. Severe gum disease can also lead to tooth decay as well as the loss of the tooth. Periodontal disease (severe gum disease) can destroy not only the gums, but also the supporting bone structure. It can lead to tooth decay, pain, excessive bleeding, and tooth loss.
The preventative dental exam
A semi-annual dental checkup is an essential part of preventing unnecessary tooth decay. During this visit, your dental hygienist cleans your teeth thoroughly, removing all signs of plaque and tartar. Your teeth are also flossed, a necessary part of keeping the gums healthy while also removing plaque beneath the gum line. Your dentist checks your teeth for signs of decay, advising you of the need for any follow-up visits.
The first line of defense against tooth decay and gum disease is a good oral hygiene routine that includes daily flossing and rinsing with an anti-cavity mouthwash. Chewing sugarless gum can also help to remove food particles from the teeth.
What is the treatment for a cavity?
If you have a cavity, your dentist can take care of it in a single dental visit. In most cases, you will be given a local anesthetic to numb the area and avoid pain. The tooth is prepped as all signs of decay are removed and the tooth is properly prepared to receive the filling.
Two types of fillings are routinely used to fix cavities – composite and amalgam. The amalgam filling is silver in color. It is the less popular of the two types, particularly because it is more invasive. Composite fillings are white, aesthetically pleasing, and can be used with any tooth in the mouth.
The benefits of brushing your teeth
The best way to eliminate plaque and food particles from your mouth is to brush daily using quality toothpaste. Brushing your teeth can remove cavity-causing plaque from the mouth. You should brush your teeth after every meal.
Recommended techniques for brushing your teeth
If you want to get the most out of brushing your teeth, you should take at least two full minutes to do so. If you take less time, it is more likely that you will miss those hard to reach areas in the back of the mouth and on the side of the mouth where the hand holding the toothbrush is.
It is important not to neglect areas of the mouth where bacteria can also accumulate. This includes the tongue, gums, and roof of the mouth. This is why flossing is so important since it helps to eliminate bacteria within the gums.
For the best results, you should use a soft-bristled, small-headed toothbrush. This type allows you to reach most locations quite readily. Since your toothbrush can also harbor bacteria, it is important to replace it each time you become ill as well as three to four times a year.
What is flossing and why should you do it
Flossing in between your teeth is an excellent method for the removal of plaque in hard-to-reach areas. It can also loosen food particles that have become trapped in between your teeth. Another advantage of flossing is that it stimulates your gums, improving the blood circulation that is necessary to keep them strong and healthy.
Most Las Vegas dentists recommend that you floss on a daily basis. Flossing at night, just prior to bed, helps to protect your teeth over an extended time period and provides the greatest benefit. The typical flossing technique involves wrapping an inch or two of floss around a single finger on each hand and moving the floss in between the teeth in an up-and-down and side-to-side motion in order to remove food particles and plaque.
It is important to use a sufficient amount of floss to enable you to properly maneuver inside the mouth as well as to reach the back teeth or molars. You should move the floss in your hands, wrapping worn or dirty floss around one of your fingers, enabling you to have access to clean floss. It is important not to transfer food particles or plaque from one section to the next.
Dental floss is available in two primary styles – waxed and unwaxed. Prone to fraying, waxed floss is more delicate, but it also enables you to get in between tight spots more readily. Wide floss is available for individuals who have exceptionally large spaces in between their teeth. Dental floss is available in flavors such as cinnamon, mint, and wintergreen.
Are there any alternatives to flossing?
Individuals who have arthritis or dexterity problems might not be able to use regular floss efficiently. They can use specialized single-use holders that feature a piece of floss in a plastic holder that can be held more easily through the use of the thumb and fingers.
Another alternative to flossing is the use of a water pick to safely remove food particles and plaque from in between the teeth or in hard-to-reach areas of the mouth. A water pick delivers a small burst of water to the gums. Most water picks have more than one setting. Individuals whose gums are not strong might want to begin their water pick use on the slowest or gentlest setting to avoid damaging the gums.
During your dental checkup, your hygienist uses a professional-grade water pick to rinse your teeth after cleanings. Your dentist also uses it to properly cleanse debris from any teeth undergoing dental restoration.
Water picks are useful for individuals who wear braces, enabling them to properly remove food debris from in between their orthodontia. Individuals who have extremely sensitive gums that cannot tolerate regular tooth brushing might find water picks a viable way to supplement ineffective brushing techniques.
While they are not a substitute for the benefits of flossing, antibacterial rinses can be helpful in keeping your gums and teeth healthy and strong. They are available in most drugstores and supermarkets. Specialized rinses for individuals with severe problems are also available through a prescription provided by your Las Vegas Dentist.
What are fluoride treatments?
Designed to help strengthen your teeth, fluoride treatments re-mineralize the enamel in order to keep it resistant to decay. You can receive a fluoride treatment in a single dental appointment that takes less than thirty minutes.
What is Gingivitis?
When the gums become inflamed by plaque and bacteria that have crept in beneath the gum line, this is known as gingivitis. This inflammation of the soft tissues can lead to bleeding and discomfort. An advanced form of gingivitis leads to the formation of calculus (tartar) upon the teeth. Calculus is hard and crusty, so it can only be removed through a dental procedure known as scraping.
What is Gum Disease (Periodontal)?
Beginning as gingivitis, periodontal disease occurs when the initial inflammation is left untreated and advances to a higher level of severity. Although periodontal disease begins as an infection of the gums, it can spread to the teeth and supporting bone structures. If this type of gum disease is left untreated, it can lead to tooth extraction as well as a range of other dental procedures.
What are the treatments for gum disease?
Several types of treatment exist for gum disease. They include root planing, laser therapy, gingivectomy and curettage, tooth replacement, tooth restoration, malocclusion treatment, and surgical and/or non-surgical repair of bone defects.
What is dry mouth syndrome?
An unpleasant condition, dry mouth is the term used to describe the severely decreased production of saliva. In its severest form, it causes difficulty swallowing or talking. It can also lead to a change in taste sensations.
This condition is more common in older adults. If you are experiencing dry mouth, you should contact your Las Vegas dentist for a prescription that can alleviate the symptoms for you. Left untreated, dry mouth syndrome places the patient at greater risk of developing tooth decay and other problems in the oral cavity. Dry mouth can be caused by a number of different factors including damage to the nerves, cancer treatments, the natural aging process, and medications.
What are the risks of developing oral cancer?
While oral cancer can happen to anyone, it is more common in older adults. Certain proclivities, such as smoking, drinking alcohol, and chewing tobacco, increase the risk of developing oral cancer. Heredity can also play an important role in whether or not an individual develops oral cancer.
The signs of this disease include, but are not limited to, unusual lesions, lumps, or patches within the oral cavity. Chronic bleeding is also an indication that you might have oral cancer. You should contact your Las Vegas dentist if you suspect that you have any of these signs.
Oral health risks for those with arthritis & poor dexterity
Since people who have arthritis or dexterity issues often find it difficult to brush and floss properly, their teeth and gums are more susceptible to decay and disease. If you fall into this category, please contact your Las Vegas dentist and express your concerns. Your dentist can provide you with certain tips and tricks that can help you to maintain better oral hygiene.
Oral health risks and senior citizens?
Contrary to popular thought, dentures and false teeth are not a fact of life for senior citizens. With good oral hygiene, including annual dental checkups and cleanings, you can keep your teeth your entire life. Toward that end, it is important to eat a balanced diet and practice good oral hygiene at all times.
What are dentures?
Also commonly referred to as false teeth, dentures are crafted to take the place of a person’s missing teeth. Many types of dentures are available today including:
Partial upper dentures
Partial lower dentures
Full upper dentures
Full lower dentures
What do dentures require?
Dentures require proper care, quite similar to that of real teeth. You must practice good oral hygiene, keeping your dentures cleaned and your gums strong and healthy. Your dentures must be kept free of food particles and plaque to ensure that they do not lead to gum infections that can lead to periodontal disease, gingivitis, or the loss of supporting bone structure.
Dentures should be brushed and rinsed after every meal or snack. You should only use a gentle, non-abrasive toothpaste. You can also use a specialized denture paste or cream made specifically for this purpose. It is important to use a gentle brushing motion to avoid damaging your dentures. You should only use tepid or cool water to rinse your dentures since hot water might warp your dentures.
If you still have some of your own teeth left, you should continue practicing a good oral hygiene routine daily. This means that you should brush and floss daily. It is important to use a different toothbrush for your natural teeth than the one you use for your dentures. You should also make an attempt to keep your gums clean, using a clean, soft cloth to wipe them clean.
At night, they should be allowed to soak in a denture solution for proper cleansing. While your dentures are soaking overnight, your gums get the opportunity to breathe freely, helping to keep them healthy and strong. You should always take care to rinse your dentures thoroughly before replacing them in your mouth.
Even with proper care, your dentures might develop the accumulation of tartar that cannot be removed with at-home dental care. If this happens, it is important for you to contact your local dentist and arrange to have them properly cleaned with a professional ultrasonic device that has been designed specifically for this purpose.
Do you need annual checkups with dentures?
Regular visits to your dentists are a necessary component of caring properly for your dentures. It is important that you continue making two visits, six months apart to your dentist for your checkup and cleaning. Your dentist can also make minor changes to your dentures at that time to ensure a proper and comfortable fit. This is a critical component of avoiding unnecessary irritation to the gums, which can also lead to a painful infection.
Preventative oral care for infants and young children
Even though your infant has only a few teeth, it is important that you practice good oral hygiene to preserve them. Avoiding certain practices can help to encourage the proper development of your baby’s teeth.
Brushing and cleaning of the teeth should begin as soon as they emerge. A soft-bristled toothbrush should be used. Specially shaped infant toothbrushes are available. Water is sufficient for infants, as you want to avoid the likelihood that any toothpaste that is used will be swallowed. Once your child has reached the age of two, you can begin to use a small, pea-sized portion of toothpaste during regular brushing. It is important that you teach your child to spit out the toothpaste once you are finished brushing the teeth.
To avoid crooked teeth and the potential for a poor bite, thumb sucking should be discouraged at all times. It sets that stage for teeth to emerge differently than they would otherwise, leading to poor tooth alignment.
Avoiding “baby bottle syndrome” is easily accomplished if you forego the inclination to give your baby a bottle at nap time and/or bedtime. The sugary substances found in juice and mild can combine with saliva, pooling in the mouth. They can lead to tooth decay. If this condition is detected through an early dental visit, proper treatment can take place. If this type of tooth decay is left untreated, it can lead to problems with the formation of your child’s permanent teeth.
Preventing “baby bottle syndrome” can also be accomplished by teaching your infant to drink from a sippee cup as easily as possible. You can incorporate this behavior as easily as seven months of age, so that the child grasps the idea by the age of nine or ten months.
It is important to avoid sugary substances whenever possible in order to help promote healthy gums and strong teeth. Therefore, lollipops or taffies should not be substituted for pacifiers. Thumb sucking is discouraged as it can lead to crooked teeth. Pacifiers, on the other hand, cause little damage until after the age of four, when more teeth are emerging.
Teething rings, and even pacifiers, can be used to help alleviate the discomfort that your child experiences during the teething process. It is important to clean them properly using water and mild soap in between each use.
When do you make your first dental appointment for children?
Many periodontists recommend that you bring your child in for a first dental visit by the first birthday. By this time, the baby’s primary teeth have already begun to erupt. This initial visit is important in that it can identify problematic issues while they are still in the beginning stages.
Twenty primary teeth should emerge by the time your child reaches the age of three. It is important to start regular, bi-annual dental visits at this time to ensure that your child’s teeth remain healthy and come in properly.
Avoiding disease and/or tooth decay in the primary teeth helps to set the stage for the proper development of the permanent teeth. Moreover, if the primary teeth do not develop properly, it is possible that they will come in crooked or crowd space intended for the emergence of permanent teeth. However, this dilemma can be avoided through early detection.
What is a root canal?
When tooth decay has reached the roots of the tooth, a root canal becomes necessary. It is typically performed by an endodontist, who has received special training.
What causes toothaches?
When a toothache occurs, it is an indication that something is seriously wrong. Most toothaches are the result of tooth decay and should be treated promptly to avoid a more serious infection.
What is a mouth guard?
A mouth guard is an appliance that is designed to fit over and around the teeth. They are soft and pliable, so they mold to the teeth. Mouth guards offer protection against potential injuries that can occur, particularly during sports. Not only do mouth guards protect the teeth, but they also safeguard against damage to the gums, lips, and other components found in the oral cavity.
What happens if a tooth is knocked out?
If the worst case scenario happens and a tooth is knocked out, you should seek immediate attention. First, you should hold the tooth by its crown, avoiding the delicate roots if possible. You can attempt to place the tooth back into its socket while waiting to see your dentist. If that isn’t possible, you can place the tooth into a container of cold milk to keep it safe. You should rinse your mouth to eliminate dirt and blood. A cold compress held on the cheek closest to the injury can help to keep inflammation down.
What you should know about injuries to the mouth
When an injury to the mouth occurs, it is important to contact your dentist for a checkup immediately. Even though you might think that the damage is minimal, it can lead to a more serious condition. A tooth fracture can lead to dental decay that reaches the pulp and/or roots.
If your child’s braces are involved in an injury, creating a sharp protrusion, you should make an appointment with your dentist immediately. Failure to do so can lead to the tearing of the gums, tongue, or inner cheek. In the meantime, you can place a small piece of clean gauze on the piece that is causing the problem.
What are Dental Sealants?
Used to fill in the tiny ridges and creases located on the part of the teeth that do the chewing, dental sealants help to prevent cavities. They are used to seal the tooth off from food buildup and plaque. Your dental hygienist applies the sealants to the teeth during a single appointment. Generally, dental sealants are only applied to the molars. They can last several years with proper care. However, all types of sticky food must be avoided to prevent the sealants from coming off the teeth and being swallowed along with the food. Chewing gum must also be avoided.
Women, hormones, and dental health
Due to the physical changes that women go through during their lifetime, they are exposed to a number of oral hygiene issues at a higher level of frequency than men. Life changes, including menstruation, pregnancy, childbirth, lactation, and menopause, can all lead to damage to the gums and teeth. Enhanced hormonal levels can lead to bleeding gums, inflamed gums, gingivitis, ulcers, lesions, dry mouth, and dry sockets.
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