Posts for: May, 2016
There are two basic facts about tooth decay: 1) next to the common cold, it’s the world’s most prevalent infectious disease; and 2) with modern dentistry, it’s preventable.
Getting from Fact 1 to Fact 2 requires the daily hygiene habits of brushing and flossing. You probably learned these tasks when you could barely peer over the bathroom sink; but the real question is: are you getting the most benefit from your efforts? It’s not merely doing them, but doing them the right way.
For example, bearing down on your teeth and brushing vigorously isn’t just unhelpful, it’s damaging. Instead, you should hold your brush with perhaps just two fingers at a 45-degree angle relative to your gum line and “gently” scrub with short circular or “wiggly” strokes. Continue this action around each arch brushing all tooth surfaces, which should take about two minutes.
Your toothbrush itself is also important: most people (unless otherwise directed by their dentist) should use a multi-tufted brush with soft bristles. If you brush with the proper pressure it should last 4 to 6 months before replacing it. You should also replace it if the bristles become worn or splayed.
Flossing once a day is important for removing the plaque between teeth your toothbrush bristles can’t reach. The best technique is to form a “C” with the floss that wraps around each tooth and move it up and down gently three or four times until you hear a squeaky clean sound on both sides of the tooth.
The ultimate test of your efforts comes during your regular dental checkups. You can get a check now, though, on how you’re doing by using your tongue to feel your teeth at the gum line. If they feel smooth and slick, you’re probably doing a good job of plaque removal; but if they feel a bit rough and gritty, you’re missing some of the plaque and need to be more thorough when brushing. You can also use floss by running it up and down the tooth surface — if it squeaks, they’re clean!
Your particular dental condition may require specific treatment or the use of other dental products like antibacterial mouthrinses. But learning and practicing proper brushing and flossing is key to keeping teeth and gums healthy and disease-free.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), about half of American adults suffer from some kind of periodontal disease. In mild cases of gum disease, conservative treatments such as a simple professional cleaning and flossing more often is enough to reverse the symptoms. However, more severe cases require a special procedure called scaling and root planing, available from your Pekin, IL dentists at Total Dental Care.
How do I know if I have gum disease?
Plaque, the beginning stage of tooth decay, is a colorless, sticky film which covers the teeth. Brushing and flossing regularly help keep plaque off of the teeth. However, the plaque which is not removed hardens into tartar, the next stage of tooth decay. Tartar cannot be removed with brushing or flossing and only a professional dental cleaning can remove it from the teeth. Eventually, the bacteria in plaque and tartar begin to irritate the gums, causing gingivitis, which eventually leads to periodontitis if left untreated. The symptoms of gum disease include:
- red, swollen gums
- bleeding gums
- bad breath with no apparent cause
- sensitive and loose teeth
- receding gums
- separation of the gums from the teeth
- pain while chewing
When is scaling and root planing necessary?
This procedure effectively treats moderate to severe tooth decay. Scaling and root planing cleans the teeth’s surfaces down the roots below the gum line and between the gums. The procedure takes place using manual scraping tools and, in some cases, an ultrasonic tool which uses high-frequency vibrations to remove plaque, tartar, and bacteria. In particularly stubborn cases, your dentist uses antibiotic fibers placed into the pockets between your gums and teeth. The fibers remain for a week before removal, during which time they help prevent any further infection.
How can I keep my teeth healthy after scaling and root planing?
Keeping plaque and tartar from forming on the teeth is as easy as brushing at least twice a day, flossing at least once, and seeing your dentist for regular examinations and cleanings. Depending on your situation, you may need to see your Pekin dentist more often than the recommended twice a year. Your dentist can help you determine what the best course of treatment is for your condition and lifestyle.
Acquiring a healthy mouth is as easy as asking your dentist about scaling and root planing. For more information, please consult with Dr. Stephen E. Dickey and Dr. Kevin Conroy at Total Dental Care in Pekin, IL. Call (309) 347-7055 to schedule your appointment today!
Everyone has to face the music at some time — even John Lydon, former lead singer of The Sex Pistols, arguably England’s best known punk rock band. The 59-year old musician was once better known by his stage name, Johnny Rotten — a brash reference to the visibly degraded state of his teeth. But in the decades since his band broke up, Lydon’s lifelong deficiency in dental hygiene had begun to cause him serious problems.
In recent years, Lydon has had several dental surgeries — including one to resolve two serious abscesses in his mouth, which left him with stitches in his gums and a temporary speech impediment. Photos show that he also had missing teeth, which, sources say, he opted to replace with dental implants.
For Lydon (and many others in the same situation) that’s likely to be an excellent choice. Dental implants are the gold standard for tooth replacement today, for some very good reasons. The most natural-looking of all tooth replacements, implants also have a higher success rate than any other method: over 95 percent. They can be used to replace one tooth, several teeth, or an entire arch (top or bottom row) of teeth. And with only routine care, they can last for the rest of your life.
Like natural teeth, dental implants get support from the bone in your jaw. The implant itself — a screw-like titanium post — is inserted into the jaw in a minor surgical operation. The lifelike, visible part of the tooth — the crown — is attached to the implant by a sturdy connector called an abutment. In time, the titanium metal of the implant actually becomes fused with the living bone tissue. This not only provides a solid anchorage for the prosthetic, but it also prevents bone loss at the site of the missing tooth — which is something neither bridgework nor dentures can do.
It’s true that implants may have a higher initial cost than other tooth replacement methods; in the long run, however, they may prove more economical. Over time, the cost of repeated dental treatments and periodic replacement of shorter-lived tooth restorations (not to mention lost time and discomfort) can easily exceed the expense of implants.
That’s a lesson John Lydon has learned. “A lot of ill health came from neglecting my teeth,” he told a newspaper reporter. “I felt sick all the time, and I decided to do something about it… I’ve had all kinds of abscesses, jaw surgery. It costs money and is very painful. So Johnny says: ‘Get your brush!’”
We couldn’t agree more. But if brushing isn’t enough, it may be time to consider dental implants. If you would like more information about dental implants, please call our office to schedule a consultation. You can read more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Dental Implants” and “Save a Tooth or Get an Implant?”