Dental plaque is a film that builds up on your teeth and, if it is not removed through good oral hygiene, it can lead to tooth decay and gum problems.
Over time it can ultimately form a hard, rough sediment known as dental tartar or calculus, which attracts further plaque buildup.
Calculus has to be removed by a trained professional such as a hygienist or dentist.
They may do this by manual tooth scaling or using an ultrasonic device.
If the buildup is light or moderate, the dentist or hygienist may use manual scaling instruments of various shapes and sizes.
If the buildup of tartar and stains is heavy, an ultrasonic cleaner may be used. This may be followed by hand scaling.
Build up of plaque can cause inflammation of the gums leading to breakdown of the connection between the teeth and the supporting structures.
Root planing is a procedure to treat gum disease by thoroughly scaling the roots of teeth to establish a smooth, calculus-free surface.
This treatment may require local anesthesia to prevent pain. Thorough periodontal scaling customarily involves several dental visits
If conditions are more advanced, surgery may be needed for complete debridement of the roots to arrest the disease process.
Some people tend to have more buildup of calculus than others and some may be more prone to periodontal inflammation or the development of tooth decay.
It’s therefore important to follow your hygienist’s advivce on how often to return for regular cleanings – even if your insurance only covers two a year.
You probably don’t give too much thought to the saliva in your mouth, but if you think of it like a bloodstream you’ll realize how important it is.
Like blood, saliva helps build and maintain the health of the soft and hard tissues.
It removes waste products from the mouth and offers first-line protection against microbial invasion that might lead to disease.
Saliva is derived from blood and therefore can also be used to detect disease.
Saliva enhances enamel protection by providing high levels of calcium and phosphate ions. It contains the minerals that maintain the integrity of the enamel surface and helps protect against caries.
When salivary flow is reduced, oral health deteriorates – much in the same way body tissues suffer if blood circulation is disrupted.
Patients with dry mouths (xerostomia) experience difficulty chewing, speaking and swallowing. A major cause of dry mouth is medication – almost eighty percent of the most commonly prescribed medications lead to dry mouth.
Chewing gum after a snack or meal stimulates salivary flow, clearing food from the mouth and neutralizing plaque acid.
Your saliva is important to your oral health both for preventing disease and in helping to diagnose problems.
People at any age can have a condition that makes it difficult for them to look after their own dental health.
This could affect people who suffer from a wide range of conditons such as stroke, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, mental retardation, Down syndrome, genetic disorders, Alzheimer’s disease or arthritis.
However, people in all of these categories have the same dental needs as everyone else – they need daily brushing and flossing, regular dental visits and a balanced diet.
There are some steps caregivers can take to make it easier to look after people in those categories.
If the person is uncooperative or uncontrollable, try to explain what you are about to do and schedule the task for a time of day when they are rested.
Move in a calm, slow, reassuring manner to avoid startling them. Give praise and encourage them when they help themselves.
Support the person’s head, and take special care to prevent choking or gagging when the head is tilted back.
If the person is unable or unwilling to keep their mouth open, your dentist will explain how you can make and use a mouth prop.
Ask your dentist for advice on how to care for people with special needs and check if they have facilities for caring for these needs in the dental office.
Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that covers our teeth and, when we eat something, these bacteria release acids that attack the tooth enamel.
When these attacks are repeated over time, the enamel will break down and this will eventually lead to cavities.
When plaque is not removed through daily brushing and cleaning it hardens into calculus or tartar. When tartar collects above the gum line, brushing and cleaning between the teeth becomes more difficult.
The gum tissue can become swollen or may bleed. This is called gingivitis and it is the early stage of periodontal (gum) disease.
There are several steps you can take to protect yourself against this happening:
– Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
– Clean between teeth daily with floss or an interdental cleaner
– Eat a balanced diet and limit the number of snacks between meals
– Visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and oral exams
– Ask your dentist about sealants – these are protective coatings that can be applied to the back teeth where decay often starts.
If you take steps to remove the plaque each day, you have a greater chance of avoiding tooth and gum problems.
Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that forms on teeth and gums. If you let it build up on your teeth, it can lead to several problems.
The best way to remove plaque from the tooth surfaces is by brushing and cleaning between your teeth every day.
You should brush your teeth twice a day, with a soft-bristled brush. The brush should fit your mouth comfortably, allowing you to reach all areas easily.
When you use toothpaste that contains fluoride, this helps protect your teeth.
You can help even more by cleaning between the teeth once a day with floss or interdental cleaners. This removes plaque from between the teeth in areas the toothbrush can’t reach.
By taking a few steps each day to look after your teeth – and visiting your dentist regularly, you’ll be able to enjoy healthy teeth and a great smile all your life.
Nowadays, thanks to advances in dental techniques and materials, patients have a much wider range of choices when they have to repair missing, worn, damaged or decayed teeth.
For example, materials such as ceramics and polymer compounds that look more like natural teeth help dentists create pleasing, natural-looking smiles.
The traditional materials such as gold, base metal alloys and dental amalgam are still widely used as they have many advantages.
The strength and durability of traditional dental materials continues to make them useful in many situations. For example, they are good when fillings are required in the back teeth because the pressure of chewing is high in that area.
The choice of the best option will depend on several factors such as the patient’s oral and general health, where and how the filling is placed and the number of visits needed to prepare and adjust the restored tooth.
The choice about which option is best depends on each individual’s needs so you should discuss the options with your dentist.
If you’re missing one or more teeth, it probably affects your smile and you may also notice a difference in chewing and speaking.
But there are options available to help you restore your smile and limit other problems.
For example, a bridge – sometimes called a fixed partial denture – replaces missing teeth with artificial teeth.
Bridges help maintain the shape of your face, as well as reducing the stress in your bite by replacing missing teeth.
They literally bridge the gap where one or more teeth may have been previously.
The restoration can be made from gold, alloys, porcelain or a combination of these materials and it is bonded onto surrounding teeth for support.
Bridges can be removable so that you can take them out and clean them – or fixed and so can only be removed by a dentist.
An implant bridge attaches artificial teeth directly to the jaw or under the gum tissue.
Your dentist will recommend which approach is best for you.
Whatever type of bridge you choose, its success depends on its foundation. So it’s very important to keep your remaining teeth healthy and strong.
Invisalign is a system of clear mouthguards that can be used instead of braces to help straighten teeth.
The big advantage is that Invisalign looks better and is more comfortable than braces.
However, not everyone is a candidate for using the system so you with have to check with your dentist.
If an orthodontist certified in Invisalign says you can benefit from the system, they will take impressions of your mouth, write up a detailed specification and then send everything to a high-tech lab.
Next, the lab will show the orthodontist a preview of the appliances.
The lab then makes a series of “aligners” – depending on the situation, you may need between 12 to 48 aligners.
After the impression of the teeth is taken, it will normally require a visit to the orthodontist every six weeks.
Some patients will be advised to wear metal braces for a period and then switching to Invisalign when their mouth is ready.
For many people Invisalign provides an ideal way of making their smile look better.
A newly born baby usually has no teeth visible but most have begun to develop primary or baby teeth.
These generally begin to appear about six months after birth.
Over their first few years, they will develop all 20 primary teeth and will usually have them all in place by age three.
The teething process is uncomfortable for many babies and they can become sleepless and irritable. They also might lose their appetite or drool more than usual.
If your infant has a fever or diarrhea while teething or continues to be cranky and uncomfortable, call your physician.
Sometimes when a tooth erupts, an eruption cyst may develop. The tooth will eventually rupture this as it pushes through the gums and these cysts are usually harmless and should be left alone.
If a baby has sore or tender gums when they are teething, it can help to gently rub the gum with a clean finger, a small, cool spoon or a wet gauze pad.
When this happens, your dentist or pediatrician may suggest a pacifier, teething ring or a special “numbing” salve for the gums.
When the teeth begin to erupt, you should brush them with a soft-bristled toothbrush and a little water to prevent tooth decay.
Toothpaste is not recommended until a child reaches age two. When a child begins using toothpaste, you need to supervise the brushing to make sure they don’t swallow it.
Regular dental checks should begin after your child’s first tooth appears or by their first birthday.
Sealants are made from plastic material applied to the back teeth to protect the enamel from plaque and acids.
The plastic bonds into the depressions and grooves (pits and fissures) of the chewing surfaces of the back teeth – premolars and molars.
Although thorough brushing and flossing can help remove food particles and plaque from smooth surfaces of teeth, the toothbrush bristles cannot reach all the way into the depressions and grooves to extract food and plaque.
The benefit of sealants is that they protect these vulnerable areas by “sealing out” plaque and food.
Your dentist can apply sealants quite easily and it takes only a few minutes to seal each tooth.
The teeth being sealed will first be cleaned. Then the chewing surfaces are roughened with an acid solution which makes it easier for the sealant to stick to the tooth.
The sealant is then ‘painted’ onto the tooth enamel, where it bonds directly to the tooth and hardens.
Sometimes a special curing light is used to help the sealant harden.
As long as the sealant remains intact, the tooth surface will be protected from decay.
They usually last several years before a reapplication is needed. Your dentist will check the condition of the sealants during your regular visits and reapply them when necessary.
Sealants are ideal for children because the risk of developing pit and fissure decay starts early in life. However, many adults can benefit from sealants as well.
Your dentist can tell you whether sealants would help your oral hygiene program.