Posts for: January, 2017
Even if you have a healthy smile you still need to see us for routine care.
If you’ve been fortunate enough to not have to deal with cavities or gum disease or any other dental issues, you may think you are off the hook when it comes to seeing our Dothan, AL, dentists, Dr. H. Paul Hufham, III and Dr. Bayne Heersink, but not so fast. Even the healthiest smiles still require routine care to make sure they stay that way. What is it about these regular dental visits that are so important and how often should you get preventive care?
You Could Possibly Save Your Smile
Being able to catch decay early is the best thing you can do for your teeth. Since decay doesn’t typically cause symptoms sometimes the only way you’ll know that you have decay is by visiting our Dothan general dentist every six months for cleanings and exams. These visits are also a great way to check the health of your gums and detect early stages of gum disease when it’s still reversible. Prevent tooth loss by coming in every six months. The sooner we can detect and treat issues the better.
You’ll have a Smile That Looks Better
During a professional dental cleaning, we can get into all those nooks and crannies to remove tartar and plaque that has built up. Even the best brushes and flosses aren’t able to reach all of these areas, but by coming in twice a year for a profession cleaning we will get teeth cleaner and brighter and even prevent embarrassing issues like bad breath.
You Can Protect Your Health
Did you know that many systemic diseases can be detected by examining changes in your mouth? Through these regular checkups, we can pinpoint signs that you may be dealing with serious issues like diabetes or heart disease that you may not have even known about. Prevention is key for a healthy life.
We Could Just Save Your Life
A very important part of your routine visit is that we also perform an oral cancer screening. Everyone gets screened no matter their risk. The sooner we are able to detect a suspicious growth or lump the better the treatment outcome. Oral cancer is completely treatable when found early enough, but can be life-threatening if not caught in time. These painless screenings could save your life.
Here at Healthwest Dental Associates, we believe that prevention is key to maintaining a healthy smile. From fluoride treatments to routine care, we are here to provide our Dothan, AL, patients with the trusted dental care that they can turn to time and time again.
You know the basics of great oral hygiene: Brush and floss daily; see your dentist at least twice a year for cleanings and checkups; and watch your diet, especially sweets.
While these are the basics for maintaining healthy teeth and gums, there are a few lesser known things you can do to enhance your hygiene efforts. Here are 4 extra tips for better hygiene.
Use the right toothbrush. As the old saying goes, “There's a right tool for every job.” Brushing your teeth is no exception. Most people do well with a soft-bristled, multi-tufted toothbrush with a head small enough to maneuver easily in their mouth. Toothbrushes wear out, so switch to a new one every three to six months or if the bristles become too soft or worn.
…And the right brushing technique. Hard scrubbing might apply to housework, but not your teeth. Over-aggressive brushing can lead to gum recession. A gentle, sustained effort of about two minutes on all tooth surfaces is sufficient to remove plaque, the bacterial film most responsible for dental disease.
Wait a while to brush after eating. Before hopping up from the meal table to brush, consider this: eating many foods increases mouth acid that can erode your teeth enamel. Fortunately, your body has a solution — saliva, which neutralizes mouth acid and helps restore minerals to your enamel. But saliva takes thirty minutes to an hour to complete the buffering process. If you brush before then you could brush away miniscule amounts of softened minerals from your enamel. So wait about an hour to brush, especially after consuming acidic foods or beverages.
Drink plenty of water. Your mouth needs a constant, moist environment for optimal health. But smoking, alcohol and caffeine can cause dry mouth. Certain drugs, too, can have mouth dryness as a side effect. A dry mouth is more susceptible to plaque formation that can cause disease. To avoid this, be sure you drink plenty of water during the day, especially as you grow older.
If you would like more information on taking care of your teeth and gums, 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 “10 Tips for Daily Oral Care at Home.”
Did you see the move Cast Away starring Tom Hanks? If so, you probably remember the scene where Hanks, stranded on a remote island, knocks out his own abscessed tooth — with an ice skate, no less — to stop the pain. Recently, Dear Doctor TV interviewed Gary Archer, the dental technician who created that special effect and many others.
“They wanted to have an abscess above the tooth with all sorts of gunk and pus and stuff coming out of it,” Archer explained. “I met with Tom and I took impressions [of his mouth] and we came up with this wonderful little piece. It just slipped over his own natural teeth.” The actor could flick it out with his lower tooth when the time was right during the scene. It ended up looking so real that, as Archer said, “it was not for the easily squeamish!”
That’s for sure. But neither is a real abscess, which is an infection that becomes sealed off beneath the gum line. An abscess may result from a trapped piece of food, uncontrolled periodontal (gum) disease, or even an infection deep inside a tooth that has spread to adjacent periodontal tissues. In any case, the condition can cause intense pain due to the pressure that builds up in the pus-filled sac. Prompt treatment is required to relieve the pain, keep the infection from spreading to other areas of the face (or even elsewhere in the body), and prevent tooth loss.
Treatment involves draining the abscess, which usually stops the pain immediately, and then controlling the infection and removing its cause. This may require antibiotics and any of several in-office dental procedures, including gum surgery, a root canal, or a tooth extraction. But if you do have a tooth that can’t be saved, we promise we won’t remove it with an ice skate!
The best way to prevent an abscess from forming in the first place is to practice conscientious oral hygiene. By brushing your teeth twice each day for two minutes, and flossing at least once a day, you will go a long way towards keeping harmful oral bacteria from thriving in your mouth.
If you have any questions about gum disease or abscesses, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Periodontal (Gum) Abscesses” and “Confusing Tooth Pain.”