Patient Education

Taking Care of your Teeth and Gums

Good oral care is part of a healthy lifestyle. It’s easy to keep your teeth and gums in good health. A simple routine of daily teeth cleaning, good eating habits and regular dental visits can help prevent dental conditions. 

What causes tooth decay and gum disease?

Your teeth are covered with a sticky film of bacteria called plaque (sounds like PLAK). After a meal or snack, these bacteria convert the sugar in foods into acids. These acids attack the enamel, the tooth’s hard outer layer. Repeated attacks can cause the enamel to break down and lead to cavities.

If you brush twice a day and floss once a day, you can remove most of the harmful plaque and bacteria. But if plaque stays on the teeth, it will eventually harden into tartar. It is harder to brush and floss when tartar builds up near the gum line.

Plaque that is not removed can also irritate and inflame your gums, making them swell or bleed. This is called gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease. The good news is that gingivitis can be reversed with professional dental cleaning and good oral hygiene at home.

If gum disease is left untreated, it can cause your gums to pull away from the teeth. Pockets or spaces can form between the teeth and gums. These pockets can become infected. In advanced stages of gum disease, bone loss can occur and teeth may become loose, fall out or have to be pulled.

You can prevent both tooth decay and gum disease by always remembering to brush twice a day and floss daily. It is much easier and less expensive to prevent disease and decay than to treat them!

 

Healthy Smile Tips for Life

Healthy smiles make great impressions! To keep your mouth in good condition,

  • Always brush twice a day,
  • Clean between your teeth daily,
  • Eat a balanced diet and limit snacks, and
  • Visit your dentist regularly for a dental exam and professional teeth cleaning.

Cavities

 

What and how often you eat can affect your teeth

Eating habits and food choices can lead to tooth decay or cavities. A steady supply of sugary foods and drinks, including sports and energy drinks, can damage teeth. But snacking or “grazing” all day long can also lead to tooth decay.

Plaque (sounds like “back”) is a sticky film of bacteria that forms on teeth. When you do not remove plaque from your teeth every day, it builds up. Plaque bacteria use sugar to make acid that attacks enamel, the hard surface of the tooth. The acid can attack tooth enamel for up to 20 minutes after you consume sugary foods or drinks.

When you have sugary foods or drinks many times a day or sip the same sugary drink for a long time, acid attacks the enamel again and again. Repeated acid attacks can cause tooth decay, which must be treated by a dentist.

One way of making smarter food and drink choices is to read their labels to make sure they are low in added sugar.

A healthy diet keeps your mouth healthy.

Eating a healthy diet helps keep you from feeling tired, getting sick, being overweight, and having other health problems, like tooth decay.

 

Healthy Smile Tips

  • Brush your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste
  • Clean between your teeth once a day.
  • Eat a balanced diet and limit snacks.
  • Visit your dentist regularly

For more information about taking care of your mouth and teeth, visit MouthHealthy.org, the ADA’s website just for patients.

Gum Disease

What is a periodontal disease?

Periodontal (perry-o-DON-tal) disease is an inflammation of the gums that can lead to loss of the bone that supports the teeth. If it is not treated, the disease can cause tooth loss. This disease is common and affects people of all ages.

You can have periodontal disease without pain or other clear symptoms. That’s why it is important to visit the dentist regularly. Regular dental visits allow your dentist to spot and treat problems in their early stages.

 

What causes periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease is caused by plaque, a sticky film that is always forming on your teeth. Plaque contains bacteria that produce harmful toxins. If teeth are not cleaned well, the toxins can irritate and inflame the gums.

Healthy gum tissue fits like a cuff around each tooth. But inflamed gum tissue can pull away from the teeth and form spaces called pockets. These pockets collect more plaque bacteria. If the infected pockets are not treated, the disease gets worse. The bone and other tissues that support teeth are damaged. Over time, teeth may fall out or need to be removed.

You can help prevent tooth loss by cleaning your teeth and gums each day. Plaque is removed by brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing daily. If plaque stays on your teeth, it hardens into a rough substance called calculus, or tartar. Tartar can only be removed when teeth are cleaned at the dental office.

 

How do I keep my gums healthy?

  • Brush your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste for at least two minutes each time.
  • Clean between your teeth daily with floss or another interdental cleaner.
  • If you need extra help controlling plaque, your dentist or hygienist may recommend using a germ-fighting toothpaste, mouth rinse or other oral hygiene aids.
  • Eat a healthy diet for good general and oral health.
  • Don’t use tobacco in any form.
  • Visit your dentist regularly for an exam and professional cleaning. With regular dental visits, your dentist can detect and treat periodontal disease in its early stages.

 

 

 

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