What is periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease or gum disease (gingivitis) or is the number one cause of tooth loss today. The reason you lose teeth from gum disease is because this disease attacks the gums as well as the bone, which are the foundation in which your teeth rest. As the bone dissolves away from around your teeth, your teeth become loose and eventually fall out. Anyone, at any age, is susceptible to gum disease. Gum disease is caused by plaque. If the plaque is not removed on a daily basis, it will form tartar, which is the breeding ground for the germs which cause periodontal disease.
Gum disease will not go away by itself or with improved home care. This is because the plaque has become cemented to your teeth like a hard calcium deposit. The only way of removing plaque deep under the gums is with professional cleanings. Routine and regular visits to your dentist are the best way of catching gum disease in its early stages, before too much damage has been caused.
Why do regular dental visits matter?
Regular dental visits are important because they can help spot dental health problems early on when treatment is likely to be simpler and more affordable. They also help prevent many problems from developing in the first place. Visiting your dentist regularly is also important because some diseases or medical conditions have symptoms that can appear in the mouth.
What can I do about sensitive teeth?
Sensitivity toothpaste, which contains strontium chloride or potassium nitrate are very effective in treating sensitive teeth. After a few weeks of use, you may notice a decrease in sensitivity. Highly acidic foods such as oranges, grapefruits and lemons, as well as tea and soda can increase tooth sensitivity, and work against sensitivity toothpaste. If you do not get relief by brushing gently and using desensitizing toothpaste, see your dentist. There are special compounds that can be applied in-office to the roots of your tooth to reduce - if not eliminate - the sensitivity. High-fluoride containing home care products can also be recommended to help reduce tooth sensitivity.
Why should I floss, isn't brushing enough?
Flossing reduces the number of bacteria in your mouth. There are millions of these microscopic creatures feeding on food particles left on your teeth. These bacteria live in plaque which can be removed by flossing. Brushing your teeth gets rid of some of the bacteria in your mouth. Flossing gets rid of the bacteria the toothbrush can't get to. That's the bacteria hiding in the tiny spaces between your teeth. If you do not floss, you allow plaque to remain between your teeth. Eventually it hardens into tartar. Plaque can be removed by brushing. Only the dentist can remove tartar.
Ask your dentist to show you the proper way to floss. You will both notice the difference at the next cleaning appointment.
What should I look for in a dentist?
Dental care is a very personalized service that requires a good relationship between the dentist and the patient. During your first visit, you should be able to determine if this is the right dentist for you.
Consider the following:
- Is the appointment schedule convenient for you?
- Is the office easy to get to from your home or job?
- Does the office appear to be clean, neat and orderly?
- Was your medical and dental history recorded and placed in a permanent file?
- Does the dentist explain techniques that will help you prevent dental health problems? Is dental health instruction provided?
- Are special arrangements made for handling emergencies outside of office hours? (Most dentists make arrangements with a colleague or emergency referral service if they are unable to tend to emergencies.)
- Is information provided about fees and payment plans before treatment is scheduled?
- Is your dentist a member of the ADA? All ADA member dentists voluntarily agree to abide by the high ethical standards reflected in the member code of conduct.
You and your dentist are partners in maintaining your oral health. Take time to ask questions and take notes if that will help you remember your dentist's advice.