Tooth decay is caused by a thin, white, sticky film called plaque. Plaque constantly accumulates on your teeth and contains harmful bacteria. This bacteria forms an acid when combined with the sugars in the foods we eat. This acid attacks tooth enamel. With repeated attacks, decay can set in. If not treated early, the cavity will progress deeper into the tooth. This may cause discomfort, as the center of the tooth (the pulp) contains the nerve of the tooth. If the decay continues into the pulp, an infection may set in. At a stage of such deep decay, the tooth may require a root canal and/or a crown in order to be saved.
X-rays help our doctors to discover hidden areas of tooth decay around and between the teeth. The doctor will clean out areas of decay and fill the space with durable material. Different teeth and the location/size of cavities may affect which type of filling is best for you.
By far, the most inexpensive approach to tooth decay is prevention, early detection, and timely treatment. Be sure to visit us regularly for your check-ups and cleanings, and keep up the good work at home!
Effective home care will help prevent tooth decay and gum disease, improve your oral health, and lower your cost of dental care! Maintaining good oral hygiene at home is crucial to maintaining a healthy smile. Plaque is a sticky film constantly forming on and between the teeth. The plaque contains harmful bacteria that attack the teeth, gums, and even bone. Without bacteria, dental decay and periodontal disease would not exist! In addition, if not thoroughly cleaned off, the plaque will harden to form tartar. Now the tarter becomes an excellent location for additional plaque to develop and harbor yet more bacteria. A vicious cycle has begun! But with appropriate home care, plaque can be completely removed from your mouth.
Brush at least twice daily with fluoride toothpaste using a soft bristle brush. (Brushing after each meal is ideal.) Be sure to use a SOFT bristle toothbrush. (Hard bristles and/or brushing too hard can damage the gum tissue. This can potentially cause your gums to recede.) Start in one area of your mouth and continue to brush the front, back, sides, and chewing surfaces of all teeth until you come back to your starting point. Use a circular motion to clean the front, back, and side teeth, and use a scrubbing motion on the chewing surfaces.
Visit us regularly for professional cleanings and exams! Additional aids to oral home care can include mouth rinses, high fluoride pastes, sensitivity pastes, remineralizing pastes, electric brushes, sonic brushes, oral irrigators, and other specialized oral hygiene products. When you visit our office, we will provide individualized oral hygiene instruction. In addition, we will suggest the products and materials that we feel are best suited to your particular oral health needs. No one can do it all by themselves! Please feel free to visit us for an oral hygiene appointment. We hope you will be healthier and wealthier as a result!
Flossing is a very important element of your dental health care. Floss can break up food and bacteria between the teeth that your toothbrush can not reach. This is an essential step in breaking up harmful plaque. Floss at least once daily to remove plaque and food particles. Wrap a 12-18 inch piece of floss between your middle fingers. Use your index fingers to guide and ease the floss between your teeth. Once the floss is between your teeth, press it to one side, forming a “C” shape. Then, press it to the other side to form another “C”. Continue to work the floss up and down between all your teeth and along all of the gumline. If you have a bridge or wear braces, you can use a floss threader or an interdental brush.
These are specialty tools to aid in cleaning under bridges or wires. Some kinds of floss have a special coating to make getting into tight spaces easier. You may want to experiment with which floss you feel most comfortable with. The important thing is to ensure flossing becomes a regular part of your routine. Additional aids to oral home care can include mouth rinses, high fluoride pastes, sensitivity pastes, remineralizing pastes, electric brushes, sonic brushes, oral irrigators, and other specialized oral hygiene products.
When you visit our office, we will provide individualized oral hygiene instruction. In addition, we will suggest the products and materials that we feel are best suited to your particular oral health needs. No one can do it all by themselves! Please feel free to visit us for an oral hygiene appointment. We hope you will be healthier and wealthier as a result!
Why all the talk about fluoride? Since the 1950’s it has been well-established that optimum levels of fluoride in dental enamel will greatly reduce the chance of dental decay. Fluoride works by inclusion in the crystalline structure of the minerals which make up tooth enamel. The fluoride atoms produce enamel which is less susceptible to acid attack. The two factors associated with decay resistance from fluoride are an uptake in developing teeth and topical application in erupted teeth. As teeth grow and develop within the gums of children, there is an opportunity to include some fluoride in the makeup of the tooth.
For this reason, fluoride has been added to the drinking water of most major cities in the US. It is important to note that the fluoride must be incorporated at a specific concentration, or the teeth will become discolored, misshapen, and weaker. The municipal water companies, therefore, are very precise in the amount of fluoride included in drinking water. More is definitely not better when it comes to ingesting fluoride, so please feel free to discuss your exposure to fluoride with us, especially if you are concerned about the need for supplemental fluoride. The topical application of fluoride is now recognized as perhaps the most important aspect of decay prevention. Bathing a tooth in a fluoride solution will allow the fluoride ions to be taken up in the surface enamel structure and strengthen the tooth.
The fluoride will not only prevent decay but can actually repair early damage to the enamel. Common sources for this topical fluoride are again, the municipal water supply, toothpaste, fluoride-containing mouthwash, and professional application of high-concentration solutions at your dentist. We cannot stress the huge impact fluoride has made in reducing dental decay in the United States.
At your visits, we will assess your individual need for fluoride at each preventive visit!
Mouth rinse is a great addition to your oral care routine. Oral rinse can aid in killing bacteria and helping to protect against plaque and gingivitis. Although mouthwash is a great tool, it is not a substitute for routine brushing and flossing.
If you have questions about your oral rinse, give us a call or ask your hygienist during your next visit!