Preventive Dental Care 101
Many dentist offices offer preventive care to keep patients from developing gum and tooth conditions that cause pain and can lead to the loss of teeth and/or infection. These conditions are often preventable with proper oral hygiene. If you are able to keep up with oral care, you will most likely be able to keep concerns like gum disease and tooth decay down to a minimum. If you do end up with a problem with your teeth or gums, make sure to check in with your trusted dentist in Seattle to ensure that your teeth can be restored to their natural beauty and you can have a strong bite. The following article has a two-part focus: the first includes tips you can enact to prevent dental disease and decay, the second section will focus on general first aid for teeth in the case of an accident.
Dental Care: Prevention 101
Preventing Tooth Decay
Tooth decay is a common occurrence for many people, especially children. There may also be and increased risk in people who have very deep grooves in their teeth, to the point that even brushing everyday has no effect. For people with these issues or who have a genetic disposition for tooth decay, there are ways of reducing the risk.
- A dental sealant is a permanent protective layer that your dentist in Seattle can apply over your teeth. The sealant acts as a shield for the tooth that keeps harmful bacteria from weakening and eating away at the natural enamel. Dental sealant can help you avoid tooth decay if you have very deep grooves in your teeth. It is also a solution for people with weak or receding enamel.
- Eating right for your teeth is another way of reducing the risk of tooth decay. Keep sugary foods to a minimum in your diet or cut them out altogether. Sugar is a favorite of bacteria. Frequent consumption of sugary foods and beverages will increase bacteria activity, leading to a higher occurrence of tooth decay.
- Good oral hygiene is, of course, a great way to prevent tooth decay. Make sure you brush twice a day for at least two minute, focusing on getting at each tooth and every angle. Brush in the morning and also before going to bed, and do not eat anything after that last brushing for the night. Also floss at least once a day to remove additional bacteria and tartar that has been missed with brushing. Tooth decay develops over time, so keeping up with your hygiene can save you from problems later on.
- Regular dental cleaning is a big part of staying on top of your oral health care. A dentist will be able to diagnose any conditions that are taking hold, like tooth decay, and prevent them from getting worse. They also remove plaque and tartar build up, keeping your teeth clean to help avoid decay.
Preventing Gum Disease
Besides tooth decay, you also have to worry about other oral diseases such as gum disease. Gum disease begins as gingivitis and progresses to become periodontitis, and eventually chronic periodontitis. In the early stages it is reversible, however, once the progressions goes too far, it can only be maintained with vigilant oral care and regular visits to the dentist. Most of the preventative steps to take for gum disease are the same ones you apply to avoiding tooth decay.
- Good oral hygiene is a given in preventing most conditions that negatively impact the teeth and gums. Regular flossing and brushing are absolutely necessary.
- Fluoride can be used as an additional preventative guard against gum disease. Fluoride is a naturally occurring element that is used to prevent oral diseases, especially in those who do not get it in their drinking water. Fluoride has been shown to strengthen teeth by making them more resistance to bacteria. It is particularly useful in reversing the early stages of tooth gum disease. You can set up a program for fluoride treatment with your regular dentist.
- Mouth rinse, also called mouth wash, carries benefit in the prevention of gum disease. Using and ADA approved mouth wash after a meal, especially when you are not able to brush for a while or when you have eaten a particularly sugary or acidic meal, will help remove pockets of food debris clinging to the teeth or caught in the grooves.
- Smoking cessation is a must for a healthy mouth. Not only does smoking exacerbate the conditions that lead to gum disease, it also increases the risk of cancer of the gum and mouth.
First Aid for your Teeth
There are many activities which pose particular peril to your teeth: playing sports, exercising, and some just everyday experiences. When your mouth is hit by a ball or you step off a sidewalk too hard and jar your jaw, causing a tooth to chip or break, there are some steps you can take to ease the reduce pain and damage.
Broken or Chipped Tooth
If you break off a piece of tooth keep the fragment if you can. Stay away from eating or drinking hot or cold substances until you can get into the dentist. The dentist may be able to bond the fragment back on with color-matching technology.
Tooth Knocked Out
When a tooth has been entirely knocked out, it can actually be possible to replant it. This generally only works if it is done immediately. Quickly rinse off the tooth and make sure it is free of debris and so is the pocket in your gum line. Holding only the crown section of the tooth, and avoiding touching the roots, place the tooth back down into the socket in the same direction and angle it had been in. Once you feel the tooth is firmly in place, place gentle pressure from the top, pressing down to hold it.
As soon as possible, get in to see the dentist, especially if the replanting does not take.
A displacement is when a tooth has suddenly been pushed down further into the socket or has been pushed sideways into a different location. Either of these situations is not something that should be handled on your own. If you have teeth that have been jarred out of position, get to a dentist right away. A dentist can anchor the tooth/teeth to surrounding stable teeth, keeping it from falling out and slowly migrating it back into place.
Cracked or Fractured Tooth
Cracked teeth are different from those that have had a section that has chipped off. While the tooth may still be fully rotted in the socket, it has a crack line going through it. If you are aware that this has happened (or if you have bit down hard on an object, like an unexpected bone in your food) you may have exposed pulp. This is an avenue where bacteria and infection can get inside the tooth. It may be possible to seal up, but it may also need to be pulled. Either way, it needs to be seen by a dentist in order to avoid it turning into an infection.
If you have any questions about these concerns or need to schedule an appointment for preventative dental care, call Timothy J. Butson, DMD, MSD, our preferred dentist in Seattle.