Posts for: December, 2017
Wearing braces takes time, but if all goes well the changes to your smile will be well worth it. In the meantime, though, you’ll have to contend with one particular difficulty—keeping your teeth clean of disease-causing, bacterial plaque.
Don’t worry, though—while keeping dental disease at bay with braces can be challenging, it is doable. Here are 4 tips for minimizing your chances of tooth decay or periodontal (gum) disease during orthodontic treatment.
Eat less sugar. Like any living organism, bacteria must eat—and they’re especially amenable to sugar. The more they have access to this favorite food source, the more they multiply—and the greater your risk of tooth decay or gum disease. Eating fewer sugary foods and snacks and more dental-friendly ones helps restrict bacteria populations in your mouth.
Brush thoroughly. Brushing with braces can be difficult, especially in areas blocked by orthodontic hardware. You need to be sure you brush all tooth and gum surfaces around your braces, including above and below the wire running through the brackets. A soft multi-tufted microline bristle brush is a good choice for getting into these hard to reach places. Brushing around braces takes more time, but it’s essential for effective plaque removal.
Use flossing tools. Flossing is important for removing plaque from between teeth—but, unfortunately, it might be even more difficult to perform with braces than brushing. If using string floss proves too daunting consider using a floss threader or a similar device that might be easier to maneuver. You can also use a water irrigator, a hand-held device that sprays water under pressure to loosen and flush away between-teeth plaque.
Keep up regular dental visits. While you’re seeing your orthodontist regularly for adjustments, you should also see your general dentist at least every six months or more. Besides dental cleaning, your dentist also monitors for signs of disease and can prescribe preventive measures like antibacterial mouth rinses. Of course, if you see abnormalities, like white spots on your teeth or red, puffy or bleeding gums, contact your dentist as soon as possible. The sooner a problem can be addressed the less impact it may have on your orthodontic treatment and overall oral health.
If you would like more information on caring for teeth and gums while wearing braces, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Caring for Teeth During Orthodontic Treatment.”
Have you ever been tempted to skip a dental cleaning? If your teeth feel fine, and you brush every day, you may wonder if dental cleanings are absolutely necessary. Unfortunately, missing even one cleaning can increase your risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Winston Salem, NC, dentist Dr. Denise Perrotta explains why professional cleaning is important.
You may miss a spot or two
No matter how thoroughly you brush and floss, it may not be possible to remove every trace of plaque from your teeth. The bacterial film coats your teeth throughout the day, making them feel rough. Plaque increases both your cavity and gum disease risk. In as little as 10 days, plaque can turn into tartar, a hard deposit responsible for gum disease. Although brushing is effective in removing plaque, tartar is so hard that it can only be removed with special dental instruments. If parts of your teeth overlap or are difficult to reach, plaque and tartar may build up on your teeth, even if you brush and floss frequently. Dental cleanings offer a simple way to decrease plaque and tartar buildup on your teeth.
Your teeth will look better after a cleaning
Stains on your tooth enamel can dull your smile. Dental cleanings remove superficial stains in your tooth enamel, improving your appearance. Although cleaning is effective in removing mild stains, you may want to consider professional teeth whitening if you have very dull or yellow teeth.
Your breath will be fresher
Cleanings remove tiny particles of foods that can get stuck between teeth. As those particles degrade, they may produce a foul smelling odor that is noticeable any time you open your mouth. After your cleaning, you'll leave our Winston Salem office with much fresher breath.
You'll receive a thorough examination
As part of your checkup, you'll receive an examination and possibly X-rays, in addition to your cleaning. Regular exams are essential in diagnosing cavities, gum disease, cracks in teeth and other dental issues that can affect your oral health.
Do you need to make an appointment for a dental cleaning and checkup? Call Winston Salem, NC, dentist Dr. Perrotta at (336) 760-9258 to schedule your visit.
Periodontal (gum) disease causes more than simple gum swelling—this bacterial infection can harm and destroy your teeth’s supporting structures, including the bone. Its aggressiveness sometimes requires equally aggressive treatment.
Gum disease usually begins with dental plaque, a thin film of bacteria and food particles on tooth and gum surfaces. Without proper oral hygiene plaque builds up with large populations of bacteria that can trigger an infection.
The growth of this disease is often “silent,” meaning it may initially show no symptoms. If it does, it will normally be reddened, swollen and/or bleeding gums, and sometimes pain. A loose tooth is often a late sign the disease has severely damaged the gum ligaments and supporting bone, making tooth loss a distinct possibility.
If you’re diagnosed with gum disease, there is one primary treatment strategy—remove all detected plaque and calculus (tartar) from tooth and gum surfaces. This can take several sessions because as the gums begin responding to treatment and are less inflamed, more plaque and calculus may be discovered.
Plaque removal can involve various techniques depending on the depth of the infection within the gums. For surfaces above or just below the gum line, we often use a technique called scaling: manually removing plaque and calculus with specialized instruments called scalers. If the infection has progressed well below the gum line we may also use root planing, a technique for “shaving” plaque from root surfaces.
Once infection reaches these deeper levels it’s often difficult to access. Getting to it may require a surgical procedure known as flap surgery. We make incisions in the gums to form what looks like the flap of an envelope. By retracting this “flap” we can then access the root area of the tooth. After thoroughly cleansing the area of infection, we can do regenerative procedures to regain lost attachment. Then we suture the flap of gum tissue back into place.
Whatever its stage of development, it’s important to begin treatment of gum disease as soon as it’s detected. The earlier we can arrest its spread, the less likely we’ll need to employ these more invasive procedures. If you see any signs of gum disease as mentioned before, contact us as soon as possible for a full examination.
If you would like more information on preventing and treating gum disease, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Treating Difficult Areas of Periodontal Disease.”