WHY SHOULD I SEE A DENTIST REGULARLY?
Visiting your dentist regularly is one of the best things you can do for your oral and overall health.
Your dentist can help you properly maintain healthy teeth and gums. By spotting dental health problems early enough, your dentist can recommend simpler and more affordable treatment. In addition, since the presence of oral bacteria may be a warning sign of certain diseases, regular dental checkups can be a window into the health of the rest of the body.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I SEE MY DENTIST?
Every patient is an individual, with his or her own unique circumstances.
Generally, we recommend seeing your dentist twice a year for a basic examination and/or cleaning. However, some patients may need more or less frequent visits.
IS FLOSSING REALLY IMPORTANT?
Put simply, yes. Very important.
Every time you eat, that invisible, sticky film known as plaque begins forming on the teeth. Plaque is home to millions of bacteria – those microscopic creatures that love to feed on the food particles left on your teeth. Brushing your teeth removes some bacteria, but flossing gets rid of the rest, namely what’s hiding in between your teeth.
If you don’t floss (and brush) regularly, bacteria hardens into tartar, which can’t be removed by brushing and flossing. Your dentist can remove it with special tools, but left untreated, tartar will continue to attack your teeth and gums, leading to cavities and tooth decay.
If it continues to advance, tartar may eventually contribute to tooth loss, as well as serious conditions such as heart disease.
HOW CAN I PREVENT CAVITIES?
Make sure to brush your teeth at least twice a day, and floss at least once a day. Ask your dentist to show you proper brushing and flossing technique.
You can also limit your sugar intake, as sugar-rich foods and beverages feed the bacteria in your mouth. Try your best to avoid sticky foods like peanut butter or candy. If you decide to eat sweets, limit how many and how often you do so, and clean your teeth afterwards. If brushing isn’t an option, rinse your mouth out with water. Chewing sugarless gum can also help, as it stimulates the flow of saliva, your body’s natural resistance to plaque.
Make sure to see your dentist regularly to help diagnose cavities early.
WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT SENSITIVE TEETH?
Sensitivity toothpaste provides relief for many patients. These toothpastes contain active ingredients that work to either slightly numb your teeth or block the tubules (microscopic pores in tooth enamel) that lead to the nerve of the tooth.
Highly acidic foods and beverages, such as citrus fruits, tea and soda can also increase tooth sensitivity, so you may want to limit your intake of these.
If your teeth are sensitive, speak to your dentist and he or she can recommend a course of treatment.
WHAT IS PERIODONTAL DISEASE?
Advanced periodontal disease is an infection of the gum tissue. (It’s also known as periodontitis or gum disease). Periodontitis is more severe than gingivitis, in that bacteria has sufficiently built up in or around the gum tissue to the point that the body cannot contain or reverse the infection.
If you’re suffering from periodontitis, you may experience the following systems:
- Red or purple gums
- Gums that are tender or painful to touch
- Inflamed or receding gums
- Bleeding in the gums
- Bad breath (Halitosis)
- Mouth sores
- Loose (or shifting) teeth
Periodontal disease is a serious condition that can eventually lead to tooth loss. However, early diagnosis and treatment may successfully reverse the effects.
SHOULD I USE A TOOTH WHITENING TOOTHPASTE?
There are a variety of commercial whitening toothpastes on the market. Users experience varying results; however, caution should be heeded. Since some of these toothpastes contain harsh abrasives, it’s easy to damage tooth enamel through improper or overuse.
Speak to your dentist before beginning use of any type of whitening toothpaste.
SHOULD I BE WORRIED IF MY GUMS BLEED?
Typically, bleeding gums are a sign of a larger problem. It may indicate that you are suffering from gingivitis, or even worse, periodontal disease.
At times, people stop brushing effectively or brush less frequently, in an effort to reduce their pain or to prevent further bleeding. However, this will only cause the condition to worsen.
If you’re suffering from bleeding gums, make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible.
ARE ORAL PIERCINGS DANGEROUS?
Oral piercing has dramatically increased in popularity throughout recent years; however, you should be aware of the potential problems that it brings.
Oral piercings may cause:
- Excessive saliva and drooling
- Loss of taste
- Chipped teeth
- Increased chance of tooth loss
- Speaking difficulties
If you are considering an oral piercing, or if you have a piercing that is causing problems, see your dentist right away.
WILL MY PREGNANCY AFFECT MY ORAL HEALTH?
Pregnancy gingivitis is a condition that affects approximately 50% of pregnant women. This condition may cause discomfort, swelling, bleeding, and redness or tenderness in the gums.
However, these symptoms may also be signs of periodontal (gum) disease, a more serious condition which could harm your baby. Research shows that pregnant women with periodontal disease are seven times more likely to deliver a premature baby.
If you experience the above symptoms, be sure to see your dentist right away.
I AM UNDERGOING RADIATION AND/OR CHEMOTHERAPY AS PART OF MY CANCER TREATMENT. WILL THIS AFFECT MY ORAL HEALTH?
Radiation and chemotherapy could contribute to various problems, including:
- Sores in the mouth
- Oral infections
- Dry mouth
- Bleeding of the gums
- General soreness or pain in the mouth
In addition, since these treatments suppress the body’s immune system, it may be especially difficult to control these symptoms.
If you are undergoing cancer treatment, make an appointment with your dentist and he or she will be happy to recommend a treatment plan to relieve your discomfort as much as possible.