Preventive Dental Care
Many times, the early stages of periodontal disease (gum disease) are best treated with non-surgical, periodontal therapy.
Treatment methods depend upon the type of disease and how far the condition has progressed. The first step is usually a thorough cleaning to remove plaque and tartar deposits. Subsequently, tarter and accumulated biofilms that coat the root surface can be removed from below the gum line. This is referred to as Scaling and Root Planing.
Removing the accumulated irritants, similar to removing a splinter from your finger, allows gum tissues to heal and become healthier. The tooth roots may also be smoothed allowing the gum tissue to heal and reattach to the tooth. When deep pockets between teeth and gums are present, it is difficult for your doctor to thoroughly remove plaque and tartar. Patients can seldom, if ever, keep these pockets clean and free of plaque. Consequently, surgery may be needed to restore periodontal health.
While brushing the outside surfaces of your teeth, position the brush at a 45-degree angle where your gums and teeth meet. Gently move the brush in a circular motion several times using small, gentle strokes. Use light pressure while putting the bristles between the teeth, but not so much pressure that you feel any discomfort.
When you are done cleaning the outside surfaces of all your teeth, follow the same directions while cleaning the inside of the back teeth.
To clean the inside surfaces of the upper and lower front teeth, hold the brush vertically. Make several gentle back-and-forth strokes over each tooth. Don’t forget to gently brush the surrounding gum tissue.
Next, you will clean the biting surfaces of your teeth by using short, gentle strokes. Change the position of the brush as often as necessary to reach and clean all surfaces. Try to watch yourself in the mirror to make sure you clean each surface. After you are done, rinse vigorously to remove any plaque you might have loosened while brushing.
If you have any pain while brushing or have any questions about how to brush properly, please be sure to call the office.
How to Floss
Periodontal disease usually appears between the teeth where your toothbrush cannot reach. Flossing is a very effective way to remove plaque from those surfaces; however, it is important to develop the proper technique. The following instructions will help you, but remember it takes time and practice.
Start with a piece of floss (waxed is easier) about 18” long. Lightly wrap most of the floss around the middle finger of one hand. Wrap the rest of the floss around the middle finger of the other hand.
To clean the upper teeth, hold the floss tightly between the thumb and forefinger of each hand. Gently insert the floss tightly between the teeth using a back-and-forth motion. Do not force the floss or try to snap it in to place. Bring the floss to the gumline then curve it into a C-shape against one tooth. Slide it into the space between the gum and the tooth until you feel light resistance. Move the floss up and down on the side of one tooth. Remember there are two tooth surfaces that need to be cleaned in each space. Continue to floss each side of all the upper teeth. Be careful not to cut the gum tissue between the teeth. As the floss becomes soiled, turn from one finger to the other to get a fresh section.
To clean between the bottom teeth, guide the floss using the forefinger of both hands. Do not forget the back side of the last tooth on both sides, upper and lower.
When you are finished, rinse vigorously with water to remove plaque and food particles. Do not be alarmed if during the first week of flossing your gums bleed or are a little sore. If your gums hurt while flossing, you could be doing it too hard or pinching the gum. As you floss daily and remove the plaque your gums will heal, and the bleeding should stop.
Antibiotics or irrigation with antimicrobials (chemical agents that eliminate bacteria) may be recommended to help control the growth of bacteria that create toxins and cause gum problems. In some cases, antibiotic fibers may be placed in the periodontal pockets after root debridement. This is done to control infection and to encourage normal healing.
Frequency of Appointments
In our office, we believe each patient is an individual presenting with specific concerns and needs. The frequency of recare appointments with our hygienist depends on criteria specific to each patient. Since gum disease tends to be cyclical with periods that can be more active at certain times, our patients can be seen at intervals of 2, 3, 4, or 6 months, depending on what we feel is best for them in controlling the gum problems present in their mouths.
Caring for Sensitive Teeth
Sometimes after dental treatment, teeth are sensitive to hot and cold. This should not last long, but only if the mouth is kept clean. If the mouth is not kept clean the sensitivity will remain and could become more severe. If your teeth are especially sensitive tell us. We may recommend a medicated toothpaste or mouth rinse made specifically for sensitive teeth.