Dental Care For Adult
Tooth decay and gum disease are caused by plaque, a sticky combination of bacteria and food. Plaque begins to build up on teeth within a few minutes after eating. If teeth are not cleaned well each day, plaque will lead to tooth decay or gum disease. If you do not remove plaque, it turns into a hard deposit called tartar that becomes trapped at the base of the tooth. Plaque and tartar irritate and inflame the gums. Bacteria and the toxins they produce cause the gums to become:
By taking good care of your teeth and gums, you can help prevent problems such as tooth decay and gum disease (gingivitis or periodontitis). You should also teach your children how to brush and floss from an early age to help them protect their teeth.
Plaque and tartar lead to a number of problems:
- Cavities are holes that damage the structure of teeth.
- Gingivitis is swollen, inflamed, and bleeding gums,
- Periodontitis is the destruction of the ligaments and bone that support the teeth, often leading to tooth loss.
- Bad breath (halitosis).
- Abscesses, pain, inability to use your teeth.
- Other health problems outside the mouth, ranging from preterm labor to heart disease.
HOW TO TAKE CARE OF YOUR TEETH
Healthy teeth are clean and have no cavities. Healthy gums are pink and firm. To maintain healthy teeth and gums, follow these steps:
- Floss at least once per day. It is best to floss before brushing. Flossing removes plaque from between the teeth and on the gums.
- Brush your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Brush 2 minutes each time.
- Use fluoride toothpaste. The fluoride helps strengthen tooth enamel and helps prevent tooth decay.
- Replace your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months or sooner if needed. A worn-out toothbrush will not clean your teeth as well.
- Eat a healthy diet. You are less likely to get gum disease if you eat healthy foods.
- Avoid sweets and sweetened drinks. Eating and drinking a lot of sweets increases your risk of cavities. If you do eat or drink sweets, brush your teeth soon after.
- DO NOT smoke. Smokers have more teeth and gum problems than non-smokers.
- Keep dentures, retainers, and other appliances clean. This includes brushing them regularly. You may also need to soak them in a cleansing solution.
- Schedule regular checkups with your dentist. Many dentists recommend having the teeth professionally cleaned every 6 months.
Regular teeth cleaning by a dentist removes plaque that may develop, even with careful brushing and flossing. This is very important for getting in areas that are hard to reach on your own. Professional cleaning includes scaling and polishing. This procedure uses instruments to loosen and remove deposits from the teeth. Routine exams may include dental x-rays. Your dentist can catch problems early, so they do not become more severe and expensive to fix.
Ask your dentist:
- What kind of toothbrush you should use, and how to brush your teeth well. Ask if an electric toothbrush is right for you. Electric toothbrushes have been shown to clean teeth better than manual toothbrushes. They often also have a timer to let you know when you have reached the 2-minute mark.
- How to properly floss your teeth. Overly vigorous or improper flossing may injure the gums.
- Whether you should use any special appliances or tools, such as water irrigation. This may sometimes help supplement (but not replace) brushing and flossing.
- Whether you could benefit from particular toothpastes or mouth rinses. In some cases, over-the-counter pastes and rinses may be doing you more harm than good, depending on your condition.
WHEN TO CALL THE DENTIST
Call your dentist if you have symptoms of a cavity that include:
- Pain in the tooth that occurs for no reason or is caused by food, beverages, brushing or flossing
- Sensitivity to hot or cold foods or drinks
Get early treatment for gum disease. Call your dentist if you have symptoms of gum disease that include:
- Red or swollen gums
- Bleeding in the gums when you brush your teeth
- Bad breath
- Loose teeth
- Drifting teeth
The key to keeping a bright, healthy smile throughout adulthood is to practice proper oral hygiene. Adults can get cavities, as well as gum disease that can lead to serious problems. Throughout your adult life, it’s important to continue to:
- Brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste to remove dental plaque – the sticky film on your teeth that’s the main cause of tooth decay and inflammation of the gums, called gingivitis.
- Floss daily to remove plaque from between your teeth and under your gum line, before it can harden into tartar. Once tartar has formed, it can only be removed by a dental hygienist during a professional cleaning.
- Limit sugary or starchy foods, especially sticky snacks. The more often you snack between meals, the more chances you give bacteria to create the acids that attack your tooth enamel.
- Visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and checkups.
As we get older, staying healthy becomes more and more important. This is especially true for our oral health because we’re at risk for dental problems we didn’t have to deal with when we were teenagers. Dental care for adults is crucial, and some examples may make you think twice before you cancel your next dental checkup.
Here are a few of the conditions to be aware of, and to discuss with your dentist during your annual checkups:
After age 35, patients lose more teeth to periodontal disease than to tooth decay. If your home care routine of brushing and flossing has slipped and you have skipped your regular dental cleanings, bacterial plaque and tartar can build up on your teeth. The plaque and tartar, if left untreated, may eventually cause irreparable damage to your jawbone and support structures. Teeth will start to loosen, and if this is allowed to progress, you could require periodontal surgery, or may even suffer tooth loss. The good news is that this is preventable.
According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, men over the age of 40 have the greatest risk for oral cancer. About approximately 43,000 people will be diagnosed with cancer of the mouth, tongue or throat area, and the ACS estimates that about 7,000 people will die from these cancers. The use of tobacco products and alcohol increases the risk of oral cancer. Most oral cancers are first diagnosed by the dentist during a routine checkup.
Dental Fillings Break Down
Dental fillings have a life expectancy of eight to 10 years. However, they can last 20 years or longer. When the fillings in your mouth start to break down, food and bacteria can get underneath them. When this happens, decay can go deep into your tooth, affect the nerve and possibly necessitate root canal treatment. If the tooth structure breaks down along with the filling, your only option may be to have a full crown and root canal treatment to restore your tooth.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorders
Bite irregularities and oral habits, such as grinding teeth, can lead to painful temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD). Many things can cause your bite to shift slightly, but having teeth extracted can cause the teeth in your mouth to shift position significantly and alter bite. After time, the joints that are responsible for the movement of your jaw can be affected and cause pain and locking of your jaw. This is one reason for the importance of dental implants.
If you grind your teeth when you sleep, your dentist can make you a nightguard. This appliance takes the stress off your joints. It also helps you stop grinding, which can wear down the enamel on your teeth.
Women have special oral health requirements during the unique phases of their lives. Changes in female hormone levels during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause exaggerate the way gums react to plaque. So at these times, women need to be especially thorough when brushing and flossing every day to prevent gum disease.
We love our patients and love to help them form healthy dental life that will last them a lifetime. For more information call us today to answer all of your questions so get an appointment today.