Get into a routine for brushing. Brush your teeth a minimum of twice a day, in the morning and before bedtime and after each meal.
Use a toothbrush with soft, rounded-end bristles and a small enough head that allows you to reach all parts of your teeth and mouth. Replace your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months.
You may also use an electric toothbrush that has been given the American Dental Association (ADA) seal of acceptance. Studies show that powered toothbrushes with a rotating and oscillating (back-and-forth)or vibrating action are more effective at cleaning teeth than manual toothbrushes. We recommend the Sonicare electric toothbrush.
Use a fluoride toothpaste. Some fluoride toothpastes also offer tartar control, which may help slow the formation of hard mineral buildup (tartar) on the teeth.
For non-electric toothbrushes, place the brush at a 45-degree angle where the teeth meet the gums. Hold the brush firmly, and gently rock the brush back and forth using small circular movements. Do not scrub, because vigorous brushing can make the gums pull away from the teeth and can scratch your tooth enamel. Electric toothbrushes each have their own technique. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Brush all surfaces of the teeth, tongue-side and cheek-side. Pay special attention to the front teeth and all surfaces of the back teeth. Brush chewing surfaces vigorously with short back-and-forth strokes. Brush your tongue from back to front. Some people put some toothpaste or mouthwash on their toothbrush when they do this. Brushing your tongue helps remove plaque, which can cause bad breath and help bacteria grow. Some toothbrushes now have a specific brush to use for your tongue. Tongue scrapers are the best method for cleaning the tongue.
Use disclosing tablets every now and then to see whether any plaque remains on your teeth. Disclosing tablets are chewable and will color any plaque left on the teeth after you brush. You can buy them at most drugstores.
Floss twice a day. The type of floss you use is important. Choose the type and flavor that works best for you. Our personal favorites are POH unwaxed floss (found at smaller pharmacies), Reach Ultraclean, and Reach Total Care. If you use a plastic flosser then Reach brand flosser is by far the best.
Regardless of the type of floss you use, you must gently place it under the gum as far as it will naturally go and push or pull on it to wrap it around the tooth some and go up and down 4-5 times to clean the tooth. We can show you the proper technique.
A dental restoration or dental filling is a dental restorative material used to restore the function, integrity and morphology of missing tooth structure. The structural loss typically results from caries or external trauma. It is also lost intentionally during tooth preparation to improve the aesthetics or the physical integrity of the intended restorative material. Dental restoration also refers to the replacement of missing tooth structure that is supported by dental implants. The choice of filling material (tooth colored or silver) depends on many factors – most important are patient preference and location.
During a dental exam, your dentist typically checks for these things:
- Gum bleeding, swelling, firmness, and pockets (the space between the gum and tooth; the larger and deeper the pocket, the more severe the disease)
- Teeth movement and sensitivity and proper teeth alignment
- Your jawbone to help detect the breakdown of bone surrounding your teeth
How Is Gum Disease Treated?
The goals of gum disease treatment are to promote reattachment of healthy gums to teeth; reduce swelling, the depth of pockets, and the risk of infection; and to stop disease progression. Treatment options depend on the stage of disease, how you may have responded to earlier treatments, and your overall health. Options range from nonsurgical therapies that control bacterial growth to surgery to restore supportive tissues. A full description of the various treatment options is provided in Gum Disease Treatments.
How Can Gum Disease Be Prevented?
Gum disease can be reversed in nearly all cases when proper plaque control is practiced. Proper plaque control consists of professional cleanings at least twice a year and daily brushing and flossing. Brushing eliminates plaque from the surfaces of the teeth that can be reached; flossing removes food particles and plaque from in between the teeth and under the gum line. Antibacterial mouth rinses can reduce bacteria in the mouth that cause plaque and gum disease, according to the American Dental Association.
Other health and lifestyle changes that will decrease the risk, severity, and speed of gum disease development include:
- Stop smoking. Tobacco use is a significant risk factor for development of periodontitis. Smokers are seven times more likely to get gum disease than nonsmokers, and smoking can lower the chances of success of some treatments.
- Reduce stress . Stress may make it difficult for your body’s immune system to fight off infection.
- Maintain a well-balanced diet. Proper nutrition helps your immune system fight infection. Eating foods with antioxidant properties, for example, those containing vitamin E or vitamin C (vitamin E-containing foods include vegetable oils, nuts, green leafy vegetables; vitamin C-containing foods include citrus fruits, broccoli, potatoes) can help your body repair damaged tissue.
- Avoid clenching and grinding your teeth. These actions may put excess force on the supporting tissues of the teeth and could increase the rate at which these tissues are destroyed.
Despite following good oral hygiene practices and making other healthy lifestyle choices, the American Academy of Periodontology says that up to 30% of the Americans may be genetically susceptible to gum disease. And those who are genetically predisposed may be up to six times more likely to develop some form of gum disease. If anyone in your family has gum disease, it may mean that you are at greater risk as well. If you are more susceptible to gum disease, your dentist or periodontist may recommend more frequent check-ups, cleanings, and treatments to better manage the condition.
A crown is a type of dental restoration which completely caps or encircles a tooth or dental implant. Crowns are often needed when a large cavity threatens the ongoing health of a tooth. They are typically bonded to the tooth using a dental cement. Crowns can be made from many materials, which are usually fabricated using indirect methods. Crowns are often used to improve the strength or appearance of teeth. Crowns are usually made of porcelain, gold, or a combination of both.
A root canal is the space within the root of a tooth. It is part of a naturally occurring space within a tooth that consists of the pulp chamber (within the coronal part of the tooth), the main canal(s), and more intricate anatomical branches that may connect the root canals to each other or to the surface of the root.
Root canal is also a colloquial term for a dental operation, endodontic therapy, wherein the pulp is cleaned out, the space disinfected and then filled. Teeth that have had root canal treatments almost always need a core buildup and crown or the tooth will break and perhaps be lost.
Contouring, also known as tooth reshaping, is one of few instant treatments now available in cosmetic dentistry. Dental reshaping and contouring is a procedure to correct crooked teeth, chipped teeth, cracked teeth or even overlapping teeth in just one session. The dental contouring procedure can even be a substitute for braces under certain circumstances. It is also a procedure of subtle changes. A few millimeters of reduction and a few millimeters of tooth-colored laminate is involved. Tooth reshaping, or dental contouring, is commonly used to alter the length, shape or position of teeth.
Dental veneers (sometimes called porcelain veneers or dental porcelain laminates) are wafer-thin, custom-made shells of tooth-colored materials designed to cover the front surface of teeth to improve your appearance. These shells are bonded to the front of the teeth changing their color, shape, size, or length.
Dental veneers can be made from porcelain or from resin composite materials. Porcelain veneers resist stains better than resin veneers and better mimic the light reflecting properties of natural teeth. You will need to discuss the best choice of veneer material for you with your dentist.
Pulling a Tooth (Tooth Extraction)
When you were 6, losing a tooth was a rite of passage, perhaps achieved by incessant tooth jiggling, biting into a crisp apple, or tying a string around the tooth and giving it a tug. As an adult, tooth loss is hardly cause for celebration, yet having a tooth pulled is sometimes necessary.
Reasons for Pulling Teeth
Although permanent teeth were meant to last a lifetime, there are a number of reasons why tooth extraction may be needed. The most common is a tooth that is too badly damaged, from trauma or decay, to be repaired. Other reasons include:
A crowded mouth. Sometimes dentists pull teeth to prepare the mouth for orthodontia. The goal of orthodontia is to properly align the teeth, which may not be possible if your teeth are too big for your mouth. Likewise, if a tooth cannot break through the gum (erupt) because there is not room in the mouth for it, your dentist may recommend pulling it.
Infection. If tooth decay or damage extends to the pulp — the center of the tooth containing nerves and blood vessels — bacteria in the mouth can enter the pulp, leading to infection. Extraction or root canal treatment is needed to prevent the spread of infection.
Risk of infection. If your immune system is compromised (for example, if you are receiving chemotherapy or are having an organ transplant) even the risk of infection in a particular tooth may be reason to pull the tooth.
Gum disease . If periodontal disease (an infection of the tissues and bones that surround and support the teeth) is untreated, it may be necessary to the pull the tooth or teeth.
A denture is a removable replacement for missing teeth and surrounding tissues. Two types of dentures are available – complete and partial dentures. Complete dentures are used when all the teeth are missing, while partial dentures are used when some natural teeth remain.
A removable partial denture or bridge usually consists of replacement teeth attached to a gum-colored acrylic base, which is connected by metal framework that holds the denture in place in the mouth. Partial dentures are used when one or more natural teeth remain in the upper or lower jaw. A fixed (permanent) bridge replaces one or more teeth by placing crowns on the teeth on either side of the space and attaching artificial teeth to them. This “bridge” is then cemented into place. Not only does a partial denture fill in the spaces created by missing teeth, it prevents other teeth from changing position. A precision partial denture is removable and has internal attachments rather than clasps that attach to the adjacent crowns. This is a more natural-looking appliance. Fixed Bridges are a much better choice if possible.