Dental FAQs & Videos
Click on one of the topics below to learn about proper dental health.
10 Ways to Protect your Teeth
- Brush Right
- Go easy on teeth-damaging foods
- Floss, Floss, Floss
- Use your teeth only for chewing food
- Don't Smoke
- Stop clenching and grinding
- Know the side effects of medications
- Don't ignore stomach problems
- Exercise Cautiously
- See a Dentist twice a year
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Flossing Teeth for Dummies
PEOPLE HAVE ALL SORTS OF EXCUSES FOR NOT FLOSSING THEIR TEETH. BUT DENTISTS SAY THERE ARE EASY WAYS TO FLOSS THAT ADDRESS EVERY EXCUSE.
Do you floss? Or, like many people, do you always seem to find a reason not to?
A 2008 survey found that only 49% of Americans floss daily, and 10% never floss. That's most unfortunate, dentists say, because flossing is even more important than brushing when it comes to preventing periodontal (gum) disease and tooth loss.
"If you were stuck on a desert island and a boat could bring only one thing, you'd want it to bring floss," says Samuel B. Low, DDS, professor of periodontology at the University of Florida College of Dentistry in Gainesville, and president of the American Academy of Periodontology. "But I'm convinced that the only time some of my patients floss is an hour before showing up in my office."
Dentists say they hear all sorts of excuses for not flossing. Yet they insist that simple workarounds exist for just about all:
Excuse #1: Food doesn't get caught between my teeth, so I don't need to floss.
Flossing isn't so much about removing food debris as it is about removing dental plaque, the complex bacterial ecosystem that forms on tooth surfaces between cleanings. Plaque is what causes tooth decay, inflamed gums (gingivitis), periodontal disease -- and, eventually, tooth loss. Flossing or using an interdental cleaner is the only effective way to remove plaque between teeth.
Excuse #2. I don't know how to floss.
Flossing isn't easy. Low calls it "the most difficult personal grooming activity there is." But practice makes perfect.
Here's how the American Dental Association describes the process:
- Start with about 18 inches of floss. Wrap most of it around the middle finger of one hand, the rest around the other middle finger.
- Grasp the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers, and use a gentle shoeshine motion to guide it between teeth.
- When the floss reaches the gum line, form a C shape to follow the contours of the tooth.
- Hold the floss firmly against the tooth, and move the floss gently up and down.
- Repeat with the other tooth, and then repeat the entire process with the rest of your teeth ("unspooling" fresh sections of floss as you go along).
- Don't forget to floss the backs of your last molars. "By far, most gum disease and most decay occurs in the back teeth," Low says.
Excuse #3. I'm not coordinated enough to floss.
Many tooth-cleaning options exist for people whose manual dexterity is compromised by poor coordination, hand pain, paralysis, and amputations -- or simply by fingers that are too big to fit inside the mouth.
One option is to use floss holders. These disposable plastic Y-shaped devices (some equipped with a spool of floss) hold a span of floss between two prongs to allow one-handed use.
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Patient Self-Evaluation Test
Three out of four Americans have some form of periodontal disease....are you one of them? Read on to find out how many of these periodontal disease indicators apply to you.
- Do you smoke?
- Do you have diabetes?
- Do you grind or clench your teeth?
- Are you currently taking oral contraceptives?
- Are you under a great deal of stress?
- Do you have bad breath?
- Are your gums red and swollen?
- Do your gums bleed when brushing and/or flossing?
- Are your gums pulling away from your teeth or receding?
- Do you have teeth that appear to be loosening?
- Have you noticed a change in the way your teeth fit together?
- Have you recently lost a tooth?
If you answered YES to two or more of these questions, you might be at risk for or you may already have a periodontal disease. Please set up a consultation with us for a complete periodontal diagnosis.
There are more than 50 million people who have gum disease. If you do suffer from gun disease you might be a candidate for a product that greatly improves your condition while providing complete comfort.
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Periodontal (Gum) Disease
Are harmful bacteria disrupting the foundation of your teeth? You could have an infection in your gums. Your gums and underlying bone provide an important foundation for your teeth and dental work, so it's important to keep them healthy.
While every mouth contains both healthy and harmful bacteria, sometimes the harmful bacteria can infect the gums and form spaces or gaps around the teeth known as pockets. These pockets are a sign that you may have periodontal disease -- the #1 cause of adult tooth loss in the United States.
Periodontal disease is a persistent bacterial infection that:
- Attacks the gums and bone that hold teeth in place
- Can return and spread if left untreated
- May lead to surgery or tooth loss
- Affects 3 out of 4 American adults
How deep are your periodontal pockets?
A member of Dr. Lawson's dental healthcare team measures your pocket depth during the exam with a special instrument much like a tiny ruler. Pockets that measure 4 mm or more in size may mean that infection is present.
Because periodontal disease attacks beneath the gum line, you could have an infection and not know it. And while there are usually a few signs and symptoms of the disease -- red swollen or bleeding gums; bad breath; loose teeth -- some people experience no symptoms at all.
Removing the bacterial "intruders"
Kent B. Lawson DDS treats periodontal disease with a procedure known as Scaling and Root Planing (SRP).
Scaling removes plaque, tartar, and stains from the surface of the teeth.
Planing smoothes the rough areas on the roots of teeth to promote healing.
While SRP has been shown to effectively remove many of the bacteria that cause the infection, the instruments used during SRP sometimes can't reach stubborn bacteria that hide in the bottom of pockets. These stubborn bacteria could cause the infection to return and spread.
Fighting the infection with a locally administered antibiotic (LAA)
Periodontal disease is a chronic bacterial infection and, as with any infection, treatment with an antibiotic is common. Dr. Kent Lawson can add a locally administered antibiotic (LAA) directly to the site of infection where bacteria hide.
We may choose to add an LAA because:
- LAAs can help reduce any bacteria that SRP might leave behind
- Antibiotics treat infections in the body, and periodontal disease is an infection
- Clinical studies prove that SRP is more effective when LAAs are added
- These effective treatments can reduce harmful bacteria before infection spreads and gum disease worsens
What's going on inside your foundation?
Remember, your gums are the foundation for all of your dental work, so you need to keep them healthy. Whether your dental visit is for dentures, bridges, crowns, veneers, bleaching treatments, or just a checkup, it's important to ask a member of our dental care team to check for infection before beginning any dental work.
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Basic Oral Care
For most of us, thorough daily oral hygiene lays the groundwork for a healthy smile. Just a simple routine of brushing and flossing, in addition to regular dental checkups, can be enough in most cases to help prevent tooth decay, gum disease and bad breath.
Brushing up on technique
Since there are various techniques for brushing your teeth, it's a good idea to ask your dentist which one to use.
Here are a few tips to help you develop a good brushing routine:
- Brush twice a day.
- Use a fluoride containing toothpaste to help prevent tooth decay.
- Place your brush at a slight angle toward the gums when brushing along the gum line.
- Use a gentle touch - it doesn't take much pressure to remove the plaque from your teeth, and a vigorous scrubbing could irritate your gums.
- Concentrate on cleaning all the surfaces of the teeth.
- Brushing your tongue gently can help remove bacteria that cause bad breath.
The importance of flossing
Cleaning between your teeth is every bit as important as brushing.
- Since brushing can't effectively clean between teeth, it's important to use floss to get to those areas.
- Other items also are available to help you clean between your teeth. Ask your dentist which ones to use.
- Clean between your teeth once a day.
- As with brushing, use a gentle touch to avoid injuring your gum tissue.
It's your choice
Sometimes just walking down the oral health care aisle in your local drug store is enough to make your head spin. With so many choices, how can you choose which products are best for you?
Here are some quick and easy ways to narrow your selection:
- Look for the ADA Seal of Acceptance - your assurance that products have met ADA standards of safety and effectiveness.
- Ask your dentist to help you select the best products for your needs. Because there are distinctive oral hygiene routines and techniques, some products seem to work better for some individuals than for others. The best brush or interdental cleaner you can buy is the one you will use regularly and properly.
- Talk to your dentist or dental hygienist about your home care routine and technique - he or she can help you get the job done properly.
Want to know more?
There is a wealth of information on dental care at your fingertips. Just go to the American Dental Association's Web site (www.ada.org ) and click on the Patients & Consumers content area for more discussion about dental hygiene, oral health or the ADA Seal of Acceptance.
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Diabetes: Dental Tips
Diabetes can cause serious problems in your mouth. You can do something about it.
If you have diabetes, make sure you take care of your mouth. People with diabetes are at risk for mouth infections, especially periodontal (gum) disease. Periodontal disease can damage the gum and bone that hold your teeth in place and may lead to painful chewing problems. Some people with serious gum disease lose their teeth. Periodontal disease may also make it hard to control your blood glucose (blood sugar).
Other problems diabetes can cause are dry mouth and a fungal infection called thrush. Dry mouth happens when you do not have enough saliva - the fluid that keeps your mouth wet. Diabetes may also cause the glucose level in your saliva to increase. Together, these problems may lead to thrush, which causes painful white patches in your mouth.
You can keep your teeth and gums healthy. By controlling your blood glucose, brushing and flossing everyday, and visiting a dentist regularly, you can help prevent periodontal disease. If your diabetes is not under control, you are more likely to develop problems in your mouth.
Take steps to keep your mouth healthy. Call your dentist when you notice a problem.
If you have diabetes, follow these steps:
- Control your blood glucose.
- Brush and floss every day.
- Visit your dentist regularly. Be sure to tell your dentist that you have diabetes.
- Tell your dentist if your dentures (false teeth) do not fit right, or if your gums are sore.
- Quit smoking. Smoking makes gum disease worse. Your physician or dentist can help you quit.
Take time to check your mouth regularly for any problems. Sometimes people notice that their gums bleed when they brush and floss. Others notice dryness, soreness, white patches, or a bad taste in the mouth. All of these are reasons to visit your dentist.
Remember, good blood glucose control can help prevent mouth problems.
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