The maintenance of oral health is two-fold and is categorized as the efforts to take at home and the work that the dentist performs in the dental clinic. Good oral health is maintained through this combination and not independently. While everyone is encouraged to see their dentists every six months or twice a year, the most critical is what you do on your own, in between those dental appointments.
As part of your personal hygiene measures, one is expected to allot some time to care for the health of their oral cavity. If you want to preserve the health and beauty of your smile, you need to put some effort in cleaning them. This cleaning involves the combination of tooth brushing, mouth rinsing, tongue scraping and flossing.
The Role of Flossing
Many would argue that flossing cannot ensure good oral health and the complete absence of dental caries. That is true, of course, so people are claiming that they have been tricked into believing that it is key to good oral health. But what they fail to realize is that “brushing”, alone is not the answer too. If you want to preserve the health and beauty of your pearly whites, you have to devote more to it. Let us understand what each procedure does:
- Brushing cleans the surfaces of the teeth. If done correctly, you can rid the teeth and gums of adherent plaque that collects on the surfaces of the teeth with the sweeping action of the bristles.
- Rinsing with mouthwash not only freshens your breath but depending on the formulation, it can promote gum healing and can soften hardened plaque so that you can remove it quickly.
- Tongue scraping, done either with a brush or a scraper, removes adherent plaque that has accumulated on the surface of the tongue. A carpet forms on the rough surface of the tongue, and by rinsing you can soften it, so you can scrape it with ease.
- Flossing allows you to penetrate areas in between teeth that the bristles cannot access. When food gets stuck or when plaque adheres in the between the teeth, you can remove it by flossing through every proximal contact.
- Oral Prophylaxis, which is performed in the dental office, is meant to remove accumulated plaque that you are unable to remove with your daily routine. Even the most brilliant effort fails to keep the mouth a hundred percent plaque-free, so the effort of the dentist is valuable in this sense.
So yes, flossing alone, cannot guarantee anything, but it is not an additional activity. In fact, to ensure the optimum oral health, make sure to commit to the two-fold process. That is to see your dentist every six months and to be vigilant in your personal efforts at home. That means that apart from brushing, rinsing, scraping and flossing, you are also watching what you eat.
Orthodontic treatment with braces is the go-to treatment of choice if you have misaligned teeth. If you have crooked, crowded and rotated teeth, you can straighten them out with braces. If you have a severe overbite or overjet, and your teeth are crossed, you can fix everything with braces. The treatment involves the use of wires, brackets, and rubbers to move the teeth in place. It requires the pulling, pushing and twisting of teeth which result in bone breaking; and stabilization to allow the bone to build, sufficiently.
Children and Braces
Between a child and an adult, the best patients are children because the bone is not as dense. The bone is still developing so it could be subjected to forces and it won’t be as resisting as an entirely mature bone. An adult patient will more or less have the same experience with braces, but treatments tend to be longer. When the bone is too strong and thick, the bone breaking and building process cannot go as fast as you would want to.
In other words, it is best to have your braces when you are younger, which is why you will see a lot of children with metal mouths in school. But how young is young when it comes to braces?
Dental Appliance Before Braces
Some dentists would install braces on patients as young as nine years old. That would mean that the child is well in the middle of the mixed dentition stage so that he will have a mixture of baby teeth and permanent teeth in his mouth. That also means that the treatment will course a good few years because the dentist needs to wait for the baby teeth to exfoliate and the permanent teeth to come out completely. To avoid this, some dentists would wait for the premolars to come out. That should be around 12-14 years old, depending on the dental age of the individual. By waiting for the premolars, you can install the braces on all teeth, and the treatment can proceed as it should. But what if you want to prevent a bigger problem?
When the orthodontic issue is already evident and pronounced but the child is deemed too young to proceed to braces, right away, he can be fitted with an appliance. A dental device may be removable or fixed, and either corrects minor issues or functions as a precursor for the braces. A two-phase treatment is ideal for children. Instead of installing the braces at a young age and having them endure it for such a long time, you can divide the treatment into two phases which involve the appliance phase and the braces phase.
When a tooth becomes infected with caries, the hard tissues of the teeth get destroyed, and they break. Depending on the severity of the decay, the infection may encroach to the area of the pulp, so that a regular tooth filling is contraindicated. When this happens, a root canal is performed, and this renders the tooth dead. To eliminate the infection, the pulp tissue is removed, replaced and then sealed.
Root Canal Failure
Unfortunately, root canal treatments fail sometimes. Since dentists would want for treatments to be final, some cases fail either because it became re-infected or the initial infection was not completely removed, so the root canal treatment will be deemed a failure and one need to decide what’s next.
a) You can repeat the root canal treatment. Some people would go for a retreatment. If the assessment reveals that the root canal treatment initially performed was insufficient and improper, it may be repeated. A retreatment will more or less be like a standard root canal treatment, but it will involve the removal of the existing filling materials, so that the entire work may be redone.
b) You can perform an apicoectomy. If the root canal seems to be fine and the radiograph reveals the presence of an abscess on the tip of the roots, you can resolve this infection with an apicoectomy. That is a surgical procedure that involves burning a hole in the area of the tip of the roots (apex) to remove the abscess. After eliminating the infection, the apex/tip of the root is sealed, and the gums are reattached to the bone and allowed to heal.
c) You can extract the tooth. Sometimes a re-infection following a supposedly completed root canal presents hopelessness. Retreatment is deemed questionable, and the performance of apicoectomy cannot guarantee success, so to cut things short, a tooth extraction is preferred. A tooth extraction resolves the infection because the root of the infection is removed from the jaw, but it this means that the tooth is gone. If this is your treatment of choice, you have to discuss dental prosthetics with your dentist.
Since dentists would like to confidently say that a root canal treatment is a finite solution to a pulp infection, some cases fail. Even the most experienced Endodontist can face a failed root canal treatment, and it does not always signify dentist error. A lot of things can go wrong, following a root canal treatment, when this happens you have to decide on what to do next.
A diastema is a space in between the teeth. That could either develop as a consequence of tooth or teeth loss, following teeth migration or shifting; or it could be an innate condition brought about by smaller teeth, frenum position or jaw size. Regardless of why the teeth are spaced away from each other, patients find an esthetic issue with it, so they want it corrected. Who intends to smile with ugly gaps in their teeth, right?
Closing the Gap
If you are troubled with the gap or spaces in between your teeth, you can go to your dentist to have it closed it using the following dental procedures:
- Braces. The most acceptable way to close spaces is to install braces. Orthodontic treatment will shift teeth and pull them together. As conventional orthodontic treatments go, it involves bone break and bone building, so that the teeth could collectively take a new shape in the jaw—and new position without spaces. Of all the options, this is the most acceptable because the teeth are left sound and untouched.
- Dental Bondings. Using composite material (the same material used for dental fillings), the spaces are closed by reshaping the teeth with the utilization of the filling material. The two teeth are allowed to meet, to lock the space, to cover the gap. The result is a bite that’s seemingly aligned, without spaces, with the teeth maintaining its natural curvatures; and it may be done with or without tooth reduction.
- Veneers. For more retentive and more esthetic results, a patient can choose to get veneers to close their gap(s). This treatment option involves fairly minimal tooth reduction, limited to the facial and biting surface of the teeth, so much of the teeth is preserved. It may be made with ceramic or porcelain and is cemented in place.
- Dental Crowns. The problem with veneers is that since it is limited to a facial reconstruction, it is not as retentive as one would hope for. Regarding aesthetics, the results are more or less similar to veneers, but what you get with a full-coverage crown is retention. It is more retentive because all surfaces of the teeth are reduced, and the entire tooth receives a crown.
- Frenectomy + Cosmetic Treatment. If the cause of the diastema in between the two central incisors is due to the position of the frenum, a minor surgery is performed. That involves the cutting and repositioning of the frenum, followed by a chosen treatment (as described above) to actually close the gap. Frenectomy is essential because the soft tissue will only push the teeth and recreate the space once again.
Whatever option you pick, all these will close the gap and give you a straighter and more attractive smile. A diastema is not an important concern, but some people would have it corrected because the spaces make the teeth look odd.
Many people are quick to dismiss the health of their gums. When they think of oral health, they believe that it’s all about the teeth, but they forget that the health of the soft tissues of the mouth matter too. As a matter of fact, the teeth relies on the health of the gums to stay in the mouth. Severe gum disease results in bone loss, and that means the loss of support so that the teeth becomes mobile and can fall out.
In an even more serious note, the health of the gums should not be taken for granted because it has been found to cause and exacerbate various systemic diseases.
The Gums and the Body
Plaque is the number one enemy of dentists. Its formation involves three key ingredients: food (sugar), saliva and bacteria. Since you cannot do anything about the natural bacteria and the saliva, you have to control the one that you can, and that is food. Proper hygiene practices are encouraged so that the mouth does not become a breeding ground for bacteria.
Gum disease, when allowed to proliferate can wreak havoc in the mouth. Gingivitis is the reversible consequence of plaque build-up. If this progresses, the bone becomes infected, and this irreversible gum disease is called Periodontitis. Unfortunately, it does not end there—because the same bacteria that causes gum disease can compromise one’s overall health condition:
While people with diabetes are most prone to developing periodontal disease, research shows that it can also go the other way around, with chronic periodontal patients developing diabetes as a consequence of prolonged disease. People with diabetes are prone to infection, so they are always encouraged to have their disease under control.
A patient who neglects his dental health can develop gum disease that will progress into Periodontitis. A patient suffering from periodontitis often have problems controlling their blood sugar, and with levels spiking ridiculously, diabetes becomes an actual threat.
b. Heart Disease
Periodontal disease is found to increase the risk for heart disease. Infections that is synonymous to periodontitis can be the same culprit that causes heart problems. As a matter of fact, some evidence finds periodontal disease has been linked to the onset of stroke.
c. Respiratory Disease
Studies reveal that the same bacteria that accumulate in the mouth as a result of gum disease can be aspirated into the lungs and cause respiratory illness. Patients with periodontal disease are found at high risk of developing pneumonia.
Do you know that 49% of patients with periodontal diseases are found with kidney disease; 54% with pancreatic cancer and 30% are found in various blood cancers? Yes, studies show a relation between gum disease and cancer.
Gum Disease is often taken for granted, but it should be taken seriously by everyone. A lot of people think that dental health is not as dangerous as medical health, but this article shows how the health of your teeth can affect your overall well-being. It is about time you paid more attention to your smile.