How often should I brush and floss?
Brushing and flossing can help control plaque and gum disease. Food debris and bacteria combine with saliva on a daily basis to form a sticky film, called plaque, on our teeth and gums. If not removed several times a day, plaque can harden and begin to destroy the gums and teeth and to develop periodontal (gum) disease. Brushing and flossing regularly, along with the regular use of other dental aids, can stop the continuous growth of plaque.
Brush at least twice a day. The most important is before bedtime. The dental industry is booming with technology. Bristle designs help to get the right 45-degree angle, and help the brush to reach hidden areas of the mouth. Certain effective methods of brushing your teeth include:
Brush all surfaces of the teeth: the outer, the inner and the biting surface. Also, use the tip of the brush head to clean the inside of the front teeth. Brush the entire tongue, but especially at the back of the throat, where typically a lot of bacteria accumulate.
Electric toothbrushes have been designed to mimic the action normally required by the wrist; so simply holding the toothbrush over each area and letting the brush do the work can make brushing a joy, and can increase your desire to brush often.
Unfortunately, there is no way the bristles of a toothbrush can reach areas between teeth, or under the gum line; therefore flossing is a must. This most effective companion to brushing helps complete the coverage, and prevents the buildup of plaque and bacteria colonies. It also prevents long-term damage to the gums, teeth and bone.
Take 12-16 inches (30-40 cm) of dental floss and wrap it around your middle fingers, leaving about 2 inches (5 cm) of floss between your hands. Using your thumbs and fingers to guide the floss, gently insert the floss between teeth using a sawing motion. Curve the floss into a “C” shape around each tooth and under the gum line. Gently move the floss up and down, cleaning the side of each tooth. Floss holders can help if you have difficulty using conventional floss.
As important as rinsing is to your dental health, it does not have to be limited to just rinsing after brushing, or after meals. Any time during the day — such as when you snack — drinking water or simply swishing water around in your mouth can do wonders to help maintain a clean mouth.
How often should I have a dental exam or cleaning?
It is important to visit us on a regular basis so that we can identify potential problems early and take appropriate action. Tooth decay can, if left untreated, cause the total loss of a tooth within a year. For this reason it is important to visit us every six months. In some circumstances you may need more frequent visits.
While brushing and flossing daily will generally keep your mouth in good condition, regular visits will go a long way to prevent major tooth or gum disease, or catch it early, if it is developing. We will perform tests and use x-ray technology to see problems long before they can cause lasting damage to your mouth.
Examination of diagnostic x-rays (radiographs)
Radiographs are essential for detection of decay, tumors, cysts, and bone loss. X-rays also help determine tooth and root positions.
Oral cancer screening
At every visit, we always check the face, neck, lips, tongue, throat tissues and gums for any signs of oral cancer.
Your dental exam
During your exam Dr. Vizcarra or Dr. Fine will check your teeth for cavities and broken fillings or crowns. Dental decay may appear as a hole or sometimes as a dark shadow underneath the surface of the enamel. Special dental instruments can go a lot farther than the average toothbrush at removing calculus (tartar), probing beneath the surface, and checking the strength of existing fillings and crowns.
What is Plaque and why do I need to get rid of it?
Plaque is defined as a soft, sticky and colorless deposit that is continually forming on our teeth and gums. All of us “get” plaque, so all of us need to get rid of it. If plaque is allowed to grow, it can cause cavities and lead to gum disease. If plaque is not removed daily, it will harden and become tartar. Tartar is much harder to remove from the tooth; so why not “catch” it before it has a chance develop? (See Good Brushing Techniques, below.)
Dental teeth polishing will remove plaque, tartar, and stains from the teeth. It is a cosmetic procedure that removes surface stains on the crown part of the tooth or above the gum line so teeth will look and feel cleaner and brighter.
Oral Hygiene – Good Brushing Techniques
At Pinnacle Peak Family Dentistry the entire team is dedicated to educate you on toothbrush choices, tooth paste, floss, rinses and fluoride options.
Review dietary habits
Your eating habits play a very important role in your dental health. So as you can see, there are many good reasons to make regular visits to our office. We are committed to making each one of your visits a valuable and lasting part of your dental care regimen.
What should I do if I have bad breath?
There are times when bad breath can occur regardless of the dental health of an individual’s mouth. Bad breath in a healthy mouth is largely a result of microbial deposits on various locations of the tongue, especially the back. In many cases, simply brushing the tongue can reduce bad breath by up to 70 percent.
What may cause bad breath?
Saliva contains enzymes that cleanse the mouth of bacterial growth. During sleep, saliva production slows or even stops altogether, producing a dry-mouth effect and causing bad breath.
Certain foods contain compounds that have a strong natural odor, such as onions or garlic which, upon entering the blood stream, are transferred into the lungs, then exhaled through the mouth.
Poor oral hygiene habits
Food particles can remain in the mouth, promoting growth of bacteria.
Periodontal (gum) disease
Inflammation of the gums can often indicate bacterial infections and food particles collecting in hard-to-reach areas.
Dental cavities or ill-fitting dental appliances
Cavities in the tooth or ill-fitting appliances can foster bad breath by allowing hidden areas for bacterial growth and food particle collection.
Dry mouth (Xerostomia)
Dry mouth may result from certain oral medications, salivary gland issues, or sinus problems resulting in excessive mouth breathing. Tobacco products can also dry the mouth and contribute to bad breath. Drinking water throughout the day can keep the mouth clean and moist.
Certain diets can cause ketosis in the body, which produces chemicals called ketones that may be released into the breath as the body burns fat.
Some medical conditions or illnesses
Bad breath can be the body’s response or simply a symptom of such conditions as liver or kidney problems, diabetes, chronic sinus infections, bronchitis and even pneumonia.
If you keep a journal of what and when you eat, you may be able to identify the cause of bad breath. Discuss your current medications, any recent surgeries, or illnesses with your dentist.
What can I do to prevent bad breath?
Practice good oral hygiene
Brush at least twice a day with an ADA-approved fluoride toothpaste and toothbrush. Floss daily to remove food debris and plaque from in between teeth and under the gum line. Brush or use a tongue scraper to clean the tongue and reach the back areas. Replace your toothbrush every two to three months (more frequently if you are ill). If you wear dentures or removable bridges, clean them thoroughly and place them back in your mouth in the morning.
See us regularly
Get a check-up and cleaning at least twice a year. If you have or have had periodontal disease, we may recommend more frequent visits.
Stop smoking/chewing tobacco
If you are concerned about your breath and your overall good health, we may be able to recommend some ways to help you break the habit.
Drink water frequently
Water will hydrate your mouth, as well as your whole body, and will help wash impurities from your system.
- Use carefully selected mouthwash/rinses
- Some over-the-counter rinses taste and feel like they are effective, but have only a temporary effect. Ask your dentist which of the rinses will clean your mouth and kill the bacteria that cause bad breath.
How can I tell if I have gum disease?
Statistically speaking, four out of five people who have periodontal disease don’t even know it, because it is usually painless in the early stages. Having your dentist perform regular check-ups can go a long way to preventing any lasting occurrence of periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease begins with the accumulation of plaque, which is a sticky colorless film of bacteria, food debris, and saliva. When this film is not brushed away well each day, the accumulation of bacteria and food particles held in the plaque can inflame the gums and destroy the bone over time.
Infrequent brushing is only one of a few risk factors contributing to the development of periodontal disease. Other factors include:
- Some medications: Steroids, cancer therapy drugs, blood pressure medications, and oral contraceptives
- Systemic diseases such as diabetes and AIDS, etc.
- Smoking or chewing tobacco: higher incidence of periodontal disease is seen in people who smoke or chew
- Pregnancy or oral contraceptives
- Life changes such as puberty
- Positioning of teeth or crowding of teeth can make it very difficult to reach some areas regardless of proper brushing and flossing techniques
- Ill-fitting crowns or other appliances, such as partials, can allow food to accumulate in specific areas, leading to periodontal disease regardless of good oral habits.
Signs you may have Periodontal Disease
- Red, swollen, bleeding or even receding gums
- Bad mouth odors
- Loose teeth or large gaps
- Tender or painful gums
- Pus around gums or teeth
- Receding gums (thinning gum tissue and/or pulling away from the tooth — which indicates bone loss)
Are amalgam (silver) fillings safe?
Because we are committed to providing the best dental care, our office has chosen not to use amalgam (silver) fillings, in most circumstances. Amalgam fillings require the destruction of larger amounts of healthy tooth than necessary. This, in return, can lead to cracking of the tooth and the possibility of needing a crown. Instead, we choose to use resin (tooth-colored) fillings. In addition to being more aesthetically pleasing, resins (also called composites) are bonded to the tooth. This allows the dentist to remove only unhealthy tooth structure.
Numerous options are available including gold, porcelain, and composite filling material and any such options can be made available on request. We will help you make the choice that is right for you and best for your unique circumstances.