Preventive maintenance (PM) can help extend the longevity of many things we own, from automobiles to electronic devices. But preventive maintenance is also useful for more than tangibles like cars or computers—your teeth and gums, for instance. Performing oral PM can help keep your mouth healthy and help you avoid costly treatments in the future.
In recognition of National Dental Care Month this May, here are 5 preventive maintenance tips to keep your teeth and gums in tip-top shape.
Daily oral hygiene. Dental plaque is a thin, bacterial film on tooth surfaces that's most responsible for dental disease. Accumulations of plaque and its hardened form, tartar, can trigger tooth decay or gum disease, both of which have the potential to rob you of your teeth. Daily brushing and flossing to remove plaque buildup is a great PM investment in your oral health.
Plaque disclosure. If you do brush and floss every day, how effective are you? One way to find out is to use a plaque disclosing agent, a product containing a special dye that only activates when it comes in contact with bacterial plaque. After applying it, you can see any plaque you've missed highlighted with a bright color, providing you valuable feedback toward improving your hygiene practice.
Dental cleanings. Even if you're a ninja at brushing and flossing, there's always a chance of missing some plaque. It can then calcify into the aforementioned tartar, which is impossible to remove with only brushing and flossing. Semi-annual cleanings by your dentist removes residual plaque and tartar, helping to boost your already low risk for tooth decay or gum disease.
Prompt treatment. When you hear a "knock" or some other odd occurrence with your car, it's wise to have it checked ASAP to avoid more extensive damage. The same goes for your mouth. Symptoms like dark spots on teeth, slow-healing mouth sores, or swollen, reddened and bleeding gums should prompt you to make an appointment with your dentist. The sooner you do, the quicker we can treat the problem at the least amount of expense.
Sports protection. Disease isn't the only threat to your mouth—a hard blow to the face or jaws can cause severe injuries that could reverberate for years to come. You can prevent injuries by wearing appropriate safety equipment during contact sports or similar activities, including helmets fitted with face shields or athletic mouthguards.
Most dental problems don't happen overnight—they're often the result of a lack of attention to your teeth and gum health. But adopting a PM mindset for your mouth could help you avoid serious issues—and expenses—down the road.
If you would like more information about best ways to take care of your oral health, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “10 Tips for Daily Oral Care at Home.”
For most people, dental visits are as routine as a trip to the supermarket, but this is not the case for everyone. Some can become so overwhelmed, anxious, or nervous about seeing the dentist that they might put off their visit, even for a serious dental condition.
This kind of anxiety, often rooted in early childhood, shouldn't be dismissed or ignored. If it prevents you or someone you love from receiving needed dental care, it could disrupt your oral health—not to mention your overall well-being for years to come.
In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month this May, here are 4 things you can do to prevent dental anxiety from robbing you of the dental care you or a loved one needs.
The right dentist. The partnership between dentist and patient may be the most important element in addressing dental anxiety. It's important to find a provider that accepts and understands your anxiety, and who won't dismiss it with trite aphorisms like, "Your fear is all in your head." Finding a dentist who listens and who will work with you in allaying your concerns is often the first step toward overcoming dental anxiety.
Facing anxiety. It's common for people to try to ignore their inner turmoil and focus instead on "getting their teeth fixed." But as sensible as that sounds, it's not really effective. It's better instead to acknowledge and be forthright about your feelings of nervousness and apprehension. With it out in the open, you and your dentist can then include managing your anxiety as a part of your overall treatment plan.
Sedation therapy. It often takes time to overcome deep-seated phobias like dental anxiety. In the meantime, though, your teeth and gums may still need care. Your dentist can help relieve your anxiety, albeit temporarily, using one or more sedation therapy techniques to help you relax during your visit. These therapies may include an oral sedative taken just before your appointment or gas or IV sedation that helps you relax completely during a treatment session.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Psychotherapists have long used CBT to help patients overcome mental and emotional problems like depression, eating disorders, or phobias. CBT helps people change deep-seated patterns of thinking or behavior regarding a troublesome issue by confronting it and seeking to understand the "why" behind the patterns. Recently, a review of dental patients who underwent CBT for dental anxiety showed a number of positive results.
Overcoming dental anxiety can be a long journey requiring patience, courage, and understanding, but it can be done! With the techniques and methods dentists now have to address it, anxiety over dental treatment no longer need interfere with a person's ability to receive the dental care they need.
If you would like more information about dental anxiety and what to do about it, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Overcoming Dental Fear & Anxiety.”
In one respect, celebrities are no different from the rest of us—quite a few famous people love to collect things. Marie Osmond collects dolls (as well as Johnny Depp, reportedly); Leonardo DiCaprio, vintage toys. And, of course, Jay Leno has his famous fleet of cars. But Victoria Beckham's collection is unusually "familial"—she's kept all of her four children's "baby" teeth after they've fallen out.
Best known as Posh Spice of the 1990s group Spice Girls and now a fashion designer and TV personality, Beckham told People Magazine that she has an "entire bucket" of her kids' primary teeth. And, she recently added to it when her nine-year old daughter lost another tooth earlier this year.
You may or may not want to keep your child's baby teeth, but you'll certainly have the opportunity. Children start losing their first set of teeth around age 6 or 7 through early puberty. During the process, each tooth's roots and gum attachment weakens to the point that the tooth becomes noticeably loose. Not long after, it gives way and falls out.
Although a baby tooth doesn't normally need any help with this, children (and sometimes parents) are often eager to accelerate the process. A loose tooth can be annoying—plus there's often a financial incentive via the "Tooth Fairy!"
First off, there's not much harm in a child wiggling a loose tooth—it may even help it come out. It's also possible to help the tooth safely detach sooner by taking a small piece of tissue, folding it over the tooth and giving it a gentle downward squeeze. If it's loose enough, it should pop out.
If it doesn't, don't resort to more forcible measures like the proverbial string and a door—just wait a day or two before trying the gentle squeeze method again. Once the tooth comes out, the empty socket may bleed a bit or not at all. If heavy bleeding does occur, have the child bite down on a piece of clean gauze or a wet tea bag until it stops. You may also have them eat softer foods for a few days to avoid a resumption of bleeding.
Beyond that, there's little else to do but place it under your child's pillow for the Tooth Fairy. And if after their "exchange" with that famous member of the Fae Folk you find yourself in possession of the erstwhile tooth, consider taking a cue from Victoria Beckham and add it to your own collection of family memories.
Put teeth in contact with acid from oral bacteria and you've created the conditions for tooth decay. Also known as caries, tooth decay is the most common human disease on the planet, responsible for destroying countless teeth.
We fortunately have effective treatments for arresting decay and minimizing its damage. But it's a far better strategy to prevent it in the first place—a strategy well within your reach if you and your dentist can reduce your individual risk factors for the disease.
Of these risk factors, there's one in particular we can't control—the genes we inherit from our parents. Researchers estimate up to 50 possible genes can influence whether or not a person develops cavities. Fortunately, though, most think the overall genetic influence has minimal impact on a person's oral health.
And although there's not much about your genetic makeup regarding cavity development that you can change, there are other factors you can definitely do something about. Here are 3 of the most important that deserve your attention if you want to prevent tooth decay.
Dental plaque. The main trigger for tooth decay and other dental diseases is a thin film of food particles on tooth surfaces called dental plaque, the main food source for the bacteria that cause disease. You can reduce this risk by removing plaque daily with brushing and flossing, along with a professional cleaning every six months.
Saliva. This essential bodily fluid helps prevent tooth decay by neutralizing acid. Problems can arise, though, if you have insufficient saliva. If you suffer from "dry mouth," you can improve saliva flow by talking to your dentist or doctor about changing medications, drinking more water or using saliva enhancement products.
Diet. Bacteria feed mainly on sugar and other refined carbohydrates. So, the more sweets, pastries and processed foods you eat, the more bacterial growth you can expect to occur. By changing your diet to more whole foods like fresh vegetables, protein and dairy, you may be able to reduce bacterial growth and your risk for decay.
Tooth decay always happens for a reason. By addressing these and other controllable risk factors, you may be able to stop decay from forming.
If you would like more information on preventing and treating tooth decay, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “What Everyone Should Know About Tooth Decay.”
Are you having pain in your jaw or were told you need a tooth removed? A number of conditions may require oral surgery. The dental specialists of Implant & General Dentistry in Cary, NC, offer a complete range of dental services. We also specialize in the treatment of oral and maxillofacial conditions. Here are six reasons why you may need oral surgery.
1. Replace Missing Teeth
Is your smile missing teeth? Dental implant surgery is a procedure that replaces lost teeth with false teeth that look and function like natural teeth. Dental implants can restore your smile, improve your appearance, and make you look years younger. Dental implants are the next best thing to natural teeth.
2. Jaw Repair
Jaw surgery is performed by oral surgeons to correct a range of dental and skeletal irregularities, including the misalignment of teeth and jaws. Jaw surgery can improve speaking, breathing, and chewing. Jaw surgery is usually only recommended where the misalignment affects everyday functions such as eating, speaking, and sleeping.
3. Tooth Extraction
Need to get that tooth pulled? An extraction is the removal of a tooth from its socket in the bone. An extraction may be necessary if your tooth is so damaged that it cannot be fixed with a dental restoration. A dentist or oral surgeon who specializes in surgeries of the mouth can extract your tooth.
4. Root Canal Therapy
In the past, injured or diseased teeth often had to be extracted. Today, they can be saved through root canal therapy. It's necessary to have a root canal when the pulp becomes infected or inflamed as a result of a chip or crack in the tooth or decay. Root canal treatment has a high success rate. A root-canal-treated tooth can last a lifetime with proper care.
5. Treat a Facial Injury
Facial trauma is any physical trauma to the face. Oral surgeons are experts in treating and repairing facial injuries and trauma, including facial lacerations and fractures of the jaws. Their knowledge of how jaws come together is critical when repairing a complex facial fracture.
If you need oral surgery, why wait? We can help you today. Call Implant & General Dentistry in Cary, NC, at 919-481-0330 right now to schedule a dental appointment. Our world-class dental team is committed to providing you with the best treatments possible.
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