Dental Health

Share:

dental_health.jpg

Dental Health for Adults | Dental Health for Children | About Teeth | Oral Hygiene | Emergency Info | Prevention | Early Dental Care

Dental Health for Adults

In recent years, bacterial inflammation involved in gum disease has been linked to chronic health problems like stroke, heart disease, diabetes, and other systemic diseases. Our doctors and hygienists take great care to identify and treat gum disease early to keep you and your mouth healthy.

Tooth Decay
Caries, or tooth decay, is a preventable disease. While caries might not endanger your life, they may negatively impact your quality of life.

When your teeth and gums are consistently exposed to large amounts of starches and sugars, acids may form that begin to eat away at tooth enamel. Carbohydrate-rich foods such as candy, cookies, soft drinks and even fruit juices leave deposits on your teeth. Those deposits bond with the bacteria that normally survive in your mouth and form plaque. The combination of deposits and plaque forms acids that can damage the mineral structure of teeth, with tooth decay resulting.

We use the CariFree System to evaluate your caries risk and treat accordingly. This allows us to attack the true etiology and prevent future cavities.

Sensitive Teeth
Tooth sensitivity is caused by the gradual exposure of the softer part of your tooth that lies under the tooth enamel, called "dentine".

Dentine has tiny tubes ('tubules') that lead to the nerve and are filled with fluid. Eating or drinking foods and drinks that are hot, cold or sweet can cause a change in fluid movement. This fluid movement causes the nerve endings to react in response, triggering a short, sharp pain.

Some of the most common causes of sensitive teeth include:

  • Brushing shortly after acid challenge can cause the enamel to be more easily worn away, as during this time the enamel is softened and more vulnerable. Brushing too vigorously can also cause receding gums, causing further exposure of the dentine.
  • Gum Disease (also known as gingivitis) causes inflamed and sore gum tissue, tooth loss and bone damage. Gum disease begins with a sticky film of bacteria called plaque. Gums in the early stage of disease, or gingivitis, can bleed easily and become red and swollen. If left untreated, gingivitis can lead to periodontitis. Periodontitis is when gum disease gets worse and damages the tissues and bone that support the teeth. As the disease progresses to periodontitis, teeth may fall out or need to be removed by a dentist. Gum disease is highly preventable and can usually be avoided by daily brushing and flossing. One indicator of gum disease is consistent bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth. It is important to note that gum disease is asymptomatic and not painful.
  • Teeth Grinding when you sleep or during the day, or if you clench your teeth, may be wearing down your tooth enamel and exposing the underlying dentine layer of your tooth.
  • Receding Gums can be caused by conditions such as gum disease, which can expose the tooth's dentine and cause sensitivity. Brushing too vigorously and teeth grinding can also cause receding gums.

Periodontics
Periodontal simply means "the tissue around the teeth". Periodontists specialize in the treatment and surgery of this area, which is often characterized by gum disease. Plaque is the most common element causing gum disease.

Proper oral hygiene, daily dental care and regular dental check-ups will minimize the risk of gum disease. Gum disease ranges from mild (gingivitis) to moderate (periodontitis) to the severe (periodontitis). Treatments are available for every case of gum disease.

Common problems associated with gum disease:

  • "Long" teeth (receding gum lines expose the root portions of your teeth)
  • Discolored or deteriorating tooth structure
  • Gum depressions (holes in between the teeth in the gum tissue)
  • Infected gum line (discoloration or inflammation of the gum tissue)

Tooth Loss or Tooth Movement
The effects of gum disease can be damaging to your dental health. However, through proper preventive care and oral hygiene, you can avoid problems associated with gum disease.

Bad Breath (Halitosis)
Daily brushing and flossing helps to prevent the build-up of food particles, plaque and bacteria in your mouth. Food particles left in the mouth deteriorate and cause bad breath. While certain foods, such as garlic or anchovies, may create temporary bad breath, consistent bad breath may be a sign of gum disease or another dental problem.

Canker Sores
Canker sores (aphthous ulcers) are small sores inside the mouth that often recur. Generally lasting one or two weeks, the duration of canker sores can be reduced by the use of antimicrobial mouthwashes or topical agents. The canker sore has a white or gray base surrounded by a red border.

Orthodontic Problems
A bite that does not meet properly (a malocclusion) can be inherited, or some types may be acquired. Some causes of malocclusion include missing or extra teeth, crowded teeth or misaligned jaws. Accidents or developmental issues, such as finger or thumb sucking over an extended period of time, may cause malocclusions. These malocclusions can lead to excessive tooth wear resulting in sensitivity and the need for dentistry.

Dental Health for Children

Innumerable studies and research have concluded on the importance of starting children early in their lives with good dental hygiene and oral care. According to research, the most common chronic childhood disease in America is tooth decay, affecting 50% of first-graders and 80% of 17-year-olds. Early treatment prevents problems affecting a child's health, well-being, self-image and overall achievement.

The National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research estimates that children will miss 52 million hours of school each year due to oral health problems and about 12.5 million days of restricted activity every year from dental symptoms. Because there is such a significant loss in their academic performance, the Surgeon General has made children's oral health a priority.

Parents are responsible for ensuring their children practice good dental hygiene. Parents must introduce proper oral care early in a child's life – as early as infancy. The American Dental Hygiene Association states that a good oral hygiene routine for children includes:

  • Thoroughly cleaning your infant's gums after each feeding with a water-soaked infant cloth. This stimulates the gum tissue and removes food.
  • Gently brushing your baby's erupted teeth with a small, soft-bristled toothbrush and using a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste.
  • Teaching your child at age 2 or 3 about proper brushing techniques and later teaching them brushing and gentle flossing until 7 or 8 years old.
  • Regular visits with their dentist to check for cavities in the primary teeth and for possible developmental problems.
  • Encouraging your child to discuss any fears they may have about oral health visits, but not mentioning words like “pain” or “hurt,” since this may instill the possibility of pain in the child's thought process.
  • Determining if the water supply that serves your home is fluoridated; if not, discussing supplement options with your dentist or hygienist.
  • Asking your hygienist or dentist about sealant applications to protect your child's teeth-chewing surfaces and about bottle tooth decay, which occurs when teeth are frequently exposed to sugared liquids.

About Teeth

Throughout your life, you will have two sets of teeth: primary (baby) teeth and secondary (permanent) teeth. At age 6-8 months, the primary teeth appear; all 20 are in place by age 3.

Permanent teeth will begin to grow around age 6, and except for wisdom teeth, are all present between ages 12 and 14. The next teeth to grow in are the 12-year molars and finally the wisdom teeth. Wisdom teeth typically begin breaking through from age 17 and on. The total number of permanent teeth is 32, though few people have room for all 32 teeth. This is why wisdom teeth are usually removed.

Your front teeth are called incisors. The sharp “fang-like” teeth are canines. The next side teeth are referred to as pre-molars or bicuspids, and the back teeth are molars. Your permanent teeth are the ones you keep for life, so it is vital that they are brushed and flossed regularly and that periodic check-ups by a dentist are followed.

Oral Hygiene

Brushing
Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and a small strip of fluoride toothpaste. When you brush your teeth, move the brush in small circular motions to reach food particles that may be under your gum line. Hold the toothbrush at an angle and brush slowly and carefully, covering all areas between teeth and the surface of each tooth. It will take you several minutes to thoroughly brush your teeth. Brush your tongue and the roof of your mouth before you rinse.

Brush your teeth at least two times daily to avoid the accumulation of food particles and plaque.

As soon as the bristles start to wear down or fray, replace your toothbrush with a new one. Replacement is usually indicated approximately every three months. Do not swallow any toothpaste; rinse your mouth thoroughly with water after you finish brushing. It is important to carefully floss and brush daily for optimal oral hygiene.

Flossing
For areas between the teeth that a toothbrush can’t reach, dental floss is used to remove food particles and plaque. Dental floss is a thin thread of waxed nylon that is used to reach below the gum line and clean between teeth. It is very important to floss between your teeth every day.

Pull a small length of floss from the dispenser. Wrap the ends of the floss tightly around your middle fingers. Guide the floss between all teeth to the gum line, pulling out any food particles or plaque. Unwrap clean floss from around your fingers as you go, so that you have used the floss from beginning to end when you finish. Floss behind all of your back teeth.

Floss at night to make sure your teeth are squeaky clean before you go to bed. When you first begin flossing, your gums may bleed a little. If the bleeding does not go away after the first few times, let a staff member know at your next appointment.

Emergency Info

Please call our office as soon as you determine that you have a dental emergency. We will be glad to work you in to our schedule if you have a dental emergency during regular business hours. After hours, over the weekend and during holidays, please contact us for the doctor’s emergency number.

Tooth Ache
Begin by cleaning around the sore tooth meticulously. Using warm salt water, rinse the mouth to displace any food trapped between teeth. Under no circumstances should you use aspirin on the aching tooth or on the gum. In the event of facial swelling, apply a cold compress to the area. For temporary pain relief, acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) is recommended. See a dentist as soon as possible.

Cut or Bitten Tongue, Lip or Cheek
Ice can be applied to any bruised areas. For bleeding, apply firm (but gentle) pressure with sterile gauze or a clean cloth. If the bleeding does not stop with pressure or continues after 15 minutes, go to an emergency room.

Broken Braces and Wires
Remove a broken appliance only if it comes out easily. If it is lodged or painful to remove, cover any protruding edges with wax, cotton balls, gauze or chewing gum. Do not remove any wire caught in the gums, cheek or tongue. See a dentist immediately. Emergency attention is usually not required for loose or broken appliances that cause no discomfort.

Broken Tooth
Rinse the area with warm water. Put a cold compress over the facial area of the injury. Recover any broken tooth fragments. Get immediate dental attention.

Knocked Out Permanent Tooth
Recover the tooth, making sure to hold it by the crown (top) and not the root end. Rinse, but do not clean or handle the tooth more than necessary. Reinsert the tooth in the socket and hold it in place using a clean piece of gauze or cloth. If the tooth cannot be reinserted, carry it in a cup containing milk or water. Because time is essential, see a dentist immediately.

Possible Broken Jaw
In the event of jaw injury, tie the mouth closed with a towel, tie or handkerchief. Go immediately to an emergency room.

Bleeding After a Baby Tooth Falls Out
Fold a piece of gauze and place it (tightly) over the bleeding area. Bite down on the gauze for 15 minutes; if bleeding continues, see give us a call to see one of our dentists.

Cold or Canker Sores
Over-the-counter medications will usually provide temporary relief. If sores persist, please give us a call to schedule an appointment to see a dentist.

Prevention

Tooth Decay Prevention
Tooth decay is a progressive disease resulting in the interaction of bacteria that naturally occur on the teeth and sugars in the everyday diet. Sugar causes a reaction in the bacteria, causing it to produce acids that break down the mineral in teeth, forming a cavity. Dentists remove the decay and fill the tooth using a variety of fillings, restoring the tooth to a healthy state. Nerve damage can result from severe decay and may require a crown (a crown is like a large filling that can cap a tooth, making it stronger or covering it). Avoiding unnecessary decay simply requires strict adherence to a dental hygiene regimen: brushing and flossing twice a day, regular dental check-ups, diet control and fluoride treatment. Practicing good hygiene avoids unhealthy teeth and costly treatment.

CariFree®
Due to new research on cavities and what causes them, we know everyone is at risk of developing decay at some point in their lifetime. Caries risk assessment is a diagnostic method used to identify issues before irreversible damage has occurred. Essentially, it is an assessment of the balance between risk factors for the disease and protective factors keeping you healthy!

Based on your risk factors for the disease, your dental professional can tell you your likelihood of experiencing new cavities in the next 12 months. Depending on your risk level, your dental professional can recommend the appropriate CariFree products to create a balance.

Sealants
The grooves and depressions that form the chewing surfaces of the back teeth are extremely difficult (if not impossible) to clean of bacteria and food. As the bacteria reacts with the food, acids form and break down the tooth enamel, causing cavities. Recent studies indicate that 88% of total cavities in American school children are caused this way.

Tooth sealants protect these susceptible areas by sealing the grooves and depressions, preventing bacteria and food particles from residing in these areas. Sealant material is a resin typically applied to the back teeth, molars and premolars and areas prone to cavities. It lasts for several years but needs to be checked during regular appointments.

Fluoride
Fluoride is a substance that helps teeth become stronger and resistant to decay. Regularly drinking water treated with fluoride and brushing and flossing regularly ensures significantly lower cavities. Dentists can evaluate the level of fluoride in a primary drinking water source and recommend fluoride supplements (usually in tablets or drops), if necessary.

Early Dental Care

A Child’s First Dental Visit
The ADA recommends a child’s first dental visit should be scheduled around his/her 1st birthday. At MK Distinctive Dentistry, we find a child more mature at 2 or 3 years of age to tolerate a routine visit. The most important part of the visit is getting to know and becoming comfortable with a doctor and his staff. This visit is important to educate the parents on proper oral hygiene for their child. A pleasant, comfortable first visit builds trust and helps put the child at ease during future dental visits. If possible, allow the child to sit in a parent’s lap in the exam room. Children should be encouraged to discuss any fears or anxiety they feel.

Why Primary Teeth Are Important
Primary teeth are important for several reasons. Foremost, good teeth allow a child to eat and maintain good nutrition. Healthy teeth allow for clear pronunciation and speech habits. The self-image that healthy teeth give a child is immeasurable. Primary teeth also guide eruption of the permanent teeth.

Good Diet and Healthy Teeth
The teeth, bones and soft tissue of the mouth require a healthy, well-balanced diet. A variety of foods from the five food groups helps minimize (and avoid) cavities and other dental problems. Most snacks that children eat cause cavities, so children should only receive healthy foods like vegetables, low-fat yogurt and cheeses, which promote strong teeth.

Infant Tooth Eruption
A child’s teeth actually start forming before birth. As early as 4 months of age, the primary or “baby” teeth push through the gums – the lower central incisors are first, then the upper central incisors. The remainder of the 20 primary teeth typically erupt by age 3, but the place and order varies.

Permanent teeth begin eruption around age 6, starting with the first molars and lower central incisors. This process continues until around age 21. Adults have 28 secondary (permanent) teeth – 32 including the third molars (wisdom teeth).

No matter what your dental concerns are, we provide an array of services, including general dentistry procedures, periodontics and endodontics. At MK Distinctive Dentistry, we live by our philosophy of conservative treatment and comprehensive dental health!