Cleaning Your Teeth and Gums
Having a clean mouth is important. It makes you feel good about yourself. It gives you fresh breath and a nicer-looking smile. Since childhood, you've probably heard that brushing and flossing your teeth daily are necessary for good dental health. But like many people, you may not be sure why. Brushing and flossing removes a thin sticky film of bacteria that grows on your teeth. This sticky film, called plaque, is the main cause of tooth decay and gum disease.
Many of the foods you eat cause the bacteria in your mouth to produce acids. Sugar foods, such as candy and cookies, are not the only culprits. Starches, such as bread, crackers, and cereal, also cause acids to form. If you snack often, you could be having acid attacks all day long. After many acid attacks, your teeth may decay. Plaque also produces substances that irritate the gums, making them red, tender or bleed easily.
About Gum Disease
Gum disease (also called periodontal disease) is an infection of the tissues surrounding and supporting the teeth. It is a major cause of tooth loss in adults. Because gum disease is usually painless, however, you may not know you have it.
In the early stage of gum disease, called gingivitis, the gums can become red, swollen and bleed easily. At this stage, the disease is still reversible and can usually be eliminated by daily brushing and flossing.
If you notice any of the following signs of gum disease, call us immediately:
- Gums that bleed when you brush your teeth red, swollen or tender gums
- Gums that have pulled away from the teeth
- Bad breath that doesn't go away
- Pus between your teeth and gums
- Loose teeth
- A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
- A change in the fit of partial dentures
One way to prevent tooth decay and gum disease is by eating a balanced diet and limiting the number of between-meal snacks. If you need a snack choose nutritious foods such as raw vegetables, plain yogurt, cheese or a piece of fruit.
Guidelines for Proper Daily Maintenance
The best way to remove decay-causing plaque is by brushing and cleaning between your teeth every day. Brushing removes plaque from the tooth surfaces. Brush your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled brush. The size and shape of your brush should fit your mouth, allowing you to reach all areas easily. Use toothpaste that contains fluoride, which helps protect your teeth from decay. Cleaning between the teeth once a day with floss or inter-dental cleaners removes plaque from between the teeth, areas where the toothbrush can't reach. It is essential in preventing gum disease.
Fluoride treatment aides in the protection against tooth decay. Fluoride accomplishes its decay resistant properties by neutralizing the acids that cause decay. As the acids fade, so does the fluoride. It is imperative that fluoride treatment is incorporated into your dental care regimen.