Oral Care FAQs
What is tooth decay?
Tooth decay, also known as dental caries, is a disease of the teeth that affects individuals of all ages, although it is more common in children and young adults. Dental caries occurs when the tooth enamel is destroyed. Decay begins at the tooth’s hard external surface, and may advance to internal structures of the tooth including the dentin and pulp. The earlier decay is treated, the better chance of saving the tooth.
How does it happen?
The bacteria inside of the mouth changes the food (primarily sugars and starches) we eat into acids. Over a period of time, the bacteria and acids form a sticky deposit called dental plaque that clings to the teeth. If the plaque is not removed, the acids will destroy the tooth’s enamel surface –resulting in holes or cavities. Sugar and starches (such as candy, cakes, cookies, milk and pop) are responsible for much of tooth decay, but sour or acidic foods (such as lemons and fruit juices), also contribute to decay because they change the pH (acidity level) in the mouth. If left untreated, the decay will progress and can lead to tooth infection. Children’s teeth primarily decay in the grooves. In addition to the grooves, older adults decay in other areas, including the roots of the teeth, which may be exposed as a result of receding gums.
How do you prevent tooth decay?
Taking good care of your teeth, eating nutritious foods and visiting the dentist on a regular basis will help prevent cavities. Here are some guidelines for preventing tooth decay:
Brushing twice a day with a toothpaste
Cleaning between the teeth daily with floss
Cleaning the teeth and gums daily with a Hydro Floss® oral irrigator
Eat well-balanced meals and limit snacking
Visit the dentist on a regular basis for check-ups and cleanings.
If brushing is not possible, the next best thing is to rinse the mouth with water to neutralize the acids and change the pH level in the mouth, which may curb tooth decay.
When should you contact a dentist?
At least every six months for a cleaning and a thorough examination. You should consult a dentist if you experience any problems or need emergency care.
What is gingivitis?
Gingivitis is an inflammation or infection of the gums (gingiva) that is an early stage of periodontal disease (gum disease). Healthy gums appear pink in color. Gingivitis causes the gums to become inflamed and swollen and bleed easily when they are brushed or flossed. Gingivitis is reversible and there is no permanent damage to the gums or teeth when treated early. If allowed to progress, the infection can advance below the gum line and cause periodontal disease. Gum disease, left untreated, can destroy the soft tissue, bone and ligaments that support the teeth. Teeth may become loose and then fall out. Periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults.
Why does it occur?
Gingivitis often results from poor oral health care. Individuals who do not brush or floss their teeth regularly or correctly; increase their chances of developing gingivitis.
How does it happen?
A combination of bacteria, saliva and acids in the mouth form a sticky deposit called dental plaque that clings to the teeth. Plaque that is not removed from the teeth hardens into hard calculus (tartar), which irritate the gums.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms include gums that are tender, red and swollen. The gums may bleed when brushed or flossed, and it can also cause bad breath. In some cases, there may be no obvious symptoms.
How do you treat gingivitis?
If you have inflamed gums or your teeth bleed during brushing or flossing, you need to visit a dentist or periodontist. The first step is to have the teeth cleaned professionally to remove the soft plaque and tartar. Brushing and flossing at home cannot remove the hard deposits or calculus. Oral irrigating with the Hydro Floss® will help soften the hard deposits or calculus.
How do you prevent gingivitis?
Brush your teeth twice a day to remove the bacteria from the teeth.
Use the Hydro Floss® oral irrigator daily to remove bacteria and food.
Eat a well-balanced diet and limit between-meal snacks.
Visit your dentist on a regular basis for an exam and cleaning.
What is orthodontics?
Orthodontics is the specialty of dentistry that involves the treatment of malocclusion, which is when the upper and lower teeth or jaw do not meet correctly. Individuals may need to be treated by an orthodontist if they have problems with their bite (such as an over or under bite), crooked teeth or overcrowding in the mouth. An orthodontist may move the teeth into position or correct the bite using braces, which are appliances bonded to the teeth and use brackets, wires, rubber bands or other ways of moving the teeth. An orthodontist may also use removable appliances to reposition the teeth. In more serious cases, a patient may need jaw surgery to align the bite. Children and adults can be treated for malocclusion. A dentist or orthodontist can perform an initial evaluation to determine if braces are needed.
What if the teeth are not straightened?
Left untreated, an individual may suffer from chewing or jaw (TMJ or temporomandibular joint) problems because the bite is off, increased tooth decay because teeth may be difficult to clean or gum disease. An individual with crooked teeth and an unattractive smile may suffer from low self-esteem, social problems or even depression.
What are the types of problems?
There are three main types of malocclusions, including:
Type 1. The upper and lower jaw are proportionally related from front to back, but there are problems with the teeth lining up straight within the jaws.
Type 2. The upper jaw is too far forward and/or the lower jaw is too far back resulting in an overbite, and ther may also be problems with alignment of teeth.
Type 3. The upper jaw is too far back and/or the lower jaw is too far forward resulting in an under bite, and the teeth may also be crooked.
How long will treatment take?
It’s impossible for an orthodontist to project the actual treatment time. In most cases, however, treatment will range from 15 to 48 months for those with severe problems. In calculating total treatment time, the “resting stages” between multi-stage treatment periods (when the teeth are not actually being moved), should not be included. If a patient does not follow instructions from the dentist, treatment may take longer. If the interceptive stage is a success, subsequent stages may be avoided. An orthodontist develops a tailored treatment plan for each patient.
How effective is treatment on adults?
More and more adults are getting braces. There is an array of treatment options for adults on the market - including ceramic braces and removable appliances - but they may have limited applicability and effectiveness. Many dentists report that metal braces are still the most effective and least expensive option.