Did you know that over half of Americans get a cavity before they turn 18? Plus many Americans have gum disease right now! It’s sad, but we’ve seen it over and over again.
We want to prevent you from suffering these common dental problems. We want your beautiful smile to stand out from the crowd. That’s why we offer preventative services that will help you fight off dental problems.
Contact Ottley Smiles to get regular cleanings, dental education, and many preventative services. By the way, prevention can actually save you money; it can stop you from needing more expensive corrective services later!
What Are Preventative Dentistry Services?
The preventative dentistry services we offer include, of course, checkups to detect developing problems, along with cleanings to stop those problems in their tracks.
Here are some other aspects of prevention that we emphasize:
Gum disease begins when plaque builds up along and under the gum line. This plaque causes infections that hurt the gum and bone that hold teeth in place. Sometimes gum disease makes your gums tender and more likely to bleed. This problem, called gingivitis, can often be fixed by daily brushing and flossing.
What Is Plaque?
Plaque is a sticky layer of material containing bacteria that accumulates on teeth, including where toothbrushes can’t reach. Many of the foods you eat cause the bacteria in your mouth to produce acids. Sugary foods are obvious sources of plaque, but there are others that you might not realize can cause harm. Starches—such as bread, crackers, and cereal—also cause acids to form.
Plaque irritates the gums, making them red, sensitive, and susceptible to bleeding. This can lead to gum disease, in which gums pull away from the teeth and form pockets that fill with bacteria and pus. If the gums are not treated, the bone around the teeth can be destroyed, and teeth may become loose or have to be removed.
How Can I Get Rid of Plaque?
The best way to remove plaque is by brushing and cleaning between your teeth every day.
Brushing removes plaque from the tooth surfaces. Brush your teeth twice per day with a soft-bristled brush. The size and shape of your toothbrush should fit your mouth and allow you to reach all areas easily. Use an antimicrobial toothpaste containing fluoride, which helps protect your teeth from decay.
Clean between the teeth once a day with floss or interdental cleaners to remove plaque from between the teeth, where the toothbrush can’t reach. Flossing is essential to prevent gum disease.
Molar crevices are difficult to clean because they are too narrow for toothbrush bristles and too deep for the normal flow of saliva to reach. Without protection, these back teeth are especially prone to cavities. However, sealants protect the teeth by providing a protective layer against plaque and acids.
A sealant is coating that makes it difficult for plaque to adhere to the grooves of these teeth, reducing the risk of developing cavities. Sealants are painted onto the tooth where it hardens to protect against decay. The plastic seals hold up very well under the normal force of chewing and usually last several years before another application is needed.
Children and adults can benefit from having this protective coating applied to their teeth. Sealants are most effective in children who have newly developed molars. Most children develop their molars at ages six and 12. Dentists should evaluate children’s teeth at their regular dental visits to see if they can be sealed. Once placed, sealants last for several years.
How young is too young to worry about dental hygiene? Never! Dental disease, including untreated cavities, is the most common chronic and infectious disease affecting children in the United States, five times more common than asthma.
Good oral health is essential to overall well-being across the span of a person’s life. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) both recommend that all children should see a dentist by age one or six months after the eruption of the first tooth.
Never put babies to bed with a bottle or sipper cup with anything other than water in it, in order to decrease the amount of time that sugary drinks are touching the teeth.
Use a washcloth or gauze to clean babies’ gums before they have teeth. When teeth erupt, brush their teeth in the morning and right before bedtime with fluoride toothpaste.
Check thoroughly for white spots on their teeth, which are early signs of tooth decay and an indication that child needs to see a dentist. Don’t be afraid to move the lips and the tongue to check their mouths. A little discomfort for your baby is better than expensive and painful dental visits later.
Dental Care for Pregnant Mothers
There is an old wives’ tale— ” Have a baby, lose a tooth.” This is absolutely untrue if simple dental hygiene is practiced before and during the pregnancy. On the other hand, many women think that prenatal vitamins, including calcium, and regular visits to their obstetrician are enough. Also untrue.
During pregnancy, a woman’s hormonal changes make her more prone to periodontitis, which is advanced gum disease. Periodontitis is a severe infection and inflammation of the gums, causing the bones and tissues that surround the teeth to degenerate.
If untreated, periodontitis can lead to tooth loss. Research has also shown that if a woman has periodontitis during her pregnancy, she is up to seven times more likely to deliver her baby prematurely or have a baby with a low birth weight.
The main cause of periodontitis is the bacteria found in plaque, which create toxins that inflame the gums and cause redness, bleeding, and swelling. This inflammation destroys the gums and causes them to separate from the teeth. Multiple factors may contribute to the development of this infection, including poor oral hygiene (not brushing or flossing properly), smoking, poor nutrition, stress, and systemic diseases, such as diabetes.
Brushing the teeth twice a day and flossing daily are critical to removing disease-causing plaque from the teeth and maintaining healthy gums. In addition, it is crucial that women visit the dentist on a regular basis – at least every six months – as they prepare for pregnancy and after they become pregnant. These measures will help ensure optimal health for both mothers and babies.
At-Home Dental Care
You have already taken the first step towards dental health by choosing the Ottley family as your providers. But even the best dentists available— and we are proud to claim that title —can only serve you at the dentist’s office. You also need to do a few simple things at home to prevent tooth decay and disease.
The three most important things in at-home preventative dental care are:
For your toothbrush, choose a soft-bristled one with the American Dental Association seal of approval, and replace it every three to four months. Proper brushing technique is just as important as the proper brush. The back teeth, tongue and the inside teeth surfaces are often forgotten; it is important that you pay them equal attention.
- Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against the gums.
- Move the brush back and forth gently in short (tooth-wide) strokes.
- Brush the outer tooth surfaces, the inner tooth surfaces, and the chewing surfaces of the teeth.
- Use the tip of the brush to clean the inside surfaces of the front teeth, using a gentle up-and-down stroke.
- Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen your breath.
Fluoride is a natural mineral that safely strengthens tooth enamel. Many people fear “additives” to their drinking water and what was once automatic fluoridation of drinking water now varies from community to community.
Fluoride is also found in many foods, toothpastes and mouthwashes. Ask one of the Drs. Ottley what amount of fluoride is right for you and your family as well as the best and safest way to ensure that you get it.
Flossing is vital to good dental health and should be done at least once a day. Flossing removes plaque and food particles from under the gum line and between the teeth. How do you floss correctly?
- Break off about 18 inches of floss and wind it around the middle fingers of each hand. Hold the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers.
- When the floss reaches the gum line, curve it into a C shape against one tooth. Gently slide it into the space between the gum and the tooth.
- Bring the floss back toward the contact point between the teeth and move the floss up or down the other side, conforming the floss to the shape of the tooth.
- Hold the floss tightly against the tooth. Gently rub the side of the tooth, moving the floss away from the gum with up-and-down motions.
- Repeat this method on the rest of your teeth.
Maintaining these at-home dental care routines can save you from the pain and expense that come with serious dental problems.
Get an Appointment for Cleaning and Other Preventive Dentistry Services
Keep your family safe from infections and tooth decay. Avoid more costly problems and procedures. Call Ottley Smiles today for a regular checkup and cleaning for anyone in your family—including infants!