The secret to a bright, healthy smile is actually no secret at all: brush, floss and get a professional dental exam at least once every six months. Professional dental exams are all about prevention – preventing existing problems from getting worse and preventing dental problems from developing in the future. Regular dental exams make it possible to identify and treat a problem in its earliest stage – which is not only good for your oral health but also good for your budget!
There's nothing to fear with a dental exam. Your teeth will be visually examined for signs of plaque, tartar and tooth decay. Your gums will also be examined for puffiness or discoloration, which are signs of gum disease. A full set of dental X-rays may also be taken during your dental exam, to enable your dentist to see below the surfaces of your teeth. Dental exams typically end with a dental cleaning, to remove surface stains and buildup.
No matter how often you brush and floss, plaque and tartar deposits can still build up on your teeth. A professional teeth cleaning is the single most effective way to remove these deposits and prevent them from causing more serious problems in the future. While a traditional teeth cleaning involves manually scraping away these deposits with special dental tools, advances in dental technologies now give you more options for teeth cleanings.
A laser teeth cleaning, also known as an ultrasonic cleaning, is a popular alternative to traditional teeth cleanings. With a laser teeth cleaning, an ultrasonic scaler (rather than a manual probe) is used to remove deposits, kill harmful microbes and eliminate bacteria around the teeth and gums through high-frequency sound waves. Many patients find laser teeth cleanings more comfortable than traditional teeth cleanings because they are quicker, quieter and pain-free.
A deep cleaning may be recommended if excessive plaque and tartar deposits have developed below the gum line. Deep cleanings, also known as scaling and root planing, involve a two-part process: first, the stubborn deposits are removed, and then the root surfaces are smoothened. A deep cleaning helps prevent periodontal disease and restores gum tissues to a healthy state.
Treatment for Bad Breath
Since the dawning of time, humans have been very aware of the smelly condition of bad breath, or halitosis. Halitosis is created by the release of volatile sulfur into the atmosphere when you exhale. These compounds contain sulfur and include hydrogen sulfide and methyl marcaptan.
Bad breath, or halitosis is created by the release of volatile sulfur into the atmosphere when you exhale. Most mints and gums do nothing more than mask conditions of bad breath; these provide only temporary solutions. In order to get rid of bad breath, its true cause must be established. The most common cause of bad breath is food that remains in the mouth between brushings. This food gets caught in between teeth and begins to rot, releasing offending odor when exhaled. This is why proper oral hygiene is so important, including daily flossing and brushing.
A tongue scraper can aid in ridding your mouth of any unpleasant smells coming from your tongue (not to mention the boost to your social life). Over-the-counter products: breath sprays, mints or Altoids® sure won't hurt. If the problem persists, ask us about BreathRx® -- a system of dental products: toothpaste, tongue scraper and mouthwash, that combines powerful ingredients (including eucalyptus oil) to make bad breath a thing of the past.
For fresh breath all the time, proper dental hygiene must be coupled with regular dental visits and any necessary dental treatment or gum disease treatment. For truly fresh breath, regular dental cleanings are a must.
Gum Disease Treatment
Red, swollen gums are a red flag for one thing: gum disease. If you have the symptoms, you're not alone. More than 80% of adults have some form of gum disease. Fortunately, there are many effective and pain-free gum disease treatments. For gingivitis, the mildest form of gum disease, treatment typically involves a thorough dental cleaning, followed by daily brushing and flossing. Advanced gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, requires scaling and root planing to remove stubborn deposits below the gum line. Laser gum surgery, a new alternative to scaling and root planing, uses beams of high-speed light to remove plaque and tartar buildup. If non-surgical methods of gum disease treatment are ineffective, a gingivectomy, or periodontal surgery, may be necessary.
Treatment for Sensitive Teeth
If you experience tooth discomfort from chewing, exposure to hot and cold, or even breathing through your mouth, you might be suffering from dentin hypersensitivity, otherwise known as "sensitive teeth."
Tooth enamel protects the dentin from temperature extremes and other irritants. Your gums do the same for the dentin inside the tooth roots.
Tooth sensitivity occurs when one of these protective barriers is compromised - because of tooth decay or gum disease, for instance. When that happens, heat, cold or pressure can produce sudden, sharp pain. Other possible causes include:
- Cracked or broken teeth
- A damaged tooth filling
- Teeth grinding, known as bruxism or clenching
- Aggressive brushing of the teeth
- Dental plaque build-up on the root surfaces
The key to preventing tooth sensivity is to keep the gums from receding. Here are some simple steps you can take:
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to minimize dental abrasion and irritation of your gums. Consider an electric toothbrush so all you need to do is move the brush, not worry about how well your teeth are being cleaned.
- Be extra gentle when brushing around the gum line!
- Go easy on highly acidic foods (such as citrus), as they can erode tooth enamel and lead to dentin exposure.
- Use a night guard if you grind or clench your teeth at night.
Regular dental visits for a dental cleaning and fluoride treatments can also prevent damage to the protective layer of the dentin.
Dental sealants offer molars a safeguard from tooth decay. Made of plastic resin, these tooth sealants are applied to the grooves of premolars and molars to "seal out" cavity-causing bacteria and food. Decay starts early in life, so dental sealants are generally placed on your teeth at a young age.
The first set of permanent molars usually erupts by age 6. Sealing these chewing surfaces soon after will help keep them healthy and protect them from cavities. Much later, second molars erupt during the rapid growth spurts of teenagers. These molars are just as vulnerable as the first, and the typical teenager will subject them to excessive sugar. The sooner these chewing surfaces can be sealed, the better.
Although dental sealants are usually applied early in life, adults at high risk of developing decay can also benefit from receiving them. Consult with Dr. Pumphrey or Dr. Crandall to determine if tooth sealants are right for you.
Teeth-grinders, heed this: The earlier you catch the damage, the better your prognosis.
Want to know one excellent way to combat the bothersome habit of nighttime bruxism, or teeth grinding? Use of a night guard -- every time you sleep. If you think the trouble or expense of a dental night guard isn't worth it, or you aren't even entirely sure it's tooth-grinding behind what seem to be increasingly shorter teeth, headaches, jaw pain and a perturbed sleep partner, it's probably time to visit the dentist. Based on the amount of damage you may have already done and the symptoms you describe, we can determine whether a night mouth guard is right for you.
Sleep Apnea Treatment
Snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) not only affects health and quality of life, but also severely affects a spouse or significant other’s life. Obstructive sleep apnea not only causes fatigue and severe daytime drowsiness, but many other problems such as poor memory, headaches and many other health problems. Oral appliance therapy is an alternative to CPAP. An oral appliance is a small plastic device that fits over the teeth, just like an orthodontic retainer or mouth guard. The appliance is worn in the mouth during sleep to prevent the soft tissue of the throat from collapsing and obstructing the airway. Oral appliance therapy is a quick and easy procedure that can dramatically change your quality of life and that of your spouse.