Adults over 35 years of age have more teeth extracted due to gum diseases (periodontal disease) than from dental cavities. And, nearly 3 out of 4 adults are affected at some time in their life by diseases associated with the gum.
Periodontal disease and decay are both caused by the build up of bacterial plaque which attaches itself at the gum line as a colorless film which firmly sticks to your teeth. Plaque constantly forms a build-up on your teeth after eating and needs to prevented from causing damage. With a good daily brushing and flossing routine you can remove the bacterial culprit and help prevent periodontal disease from developing.
Other important factors affecting the health of your gums, of which most can be treated, include:
- Clenching and grinding teeth.
- Certain types of prescribed medication.
- Poor nutrition.
Bacteria found in plaque produces chemical toxins that irritate the gum tissues. This may cause your gums to turn red, swell and start bleeding. If this irritation continues, the gums start to separate from the teeth creating pockets or spaces where infections can enter. If periodontal diseases are left to progress without treatment, the supporting gum tissues and bone that keeps our teeth in place begins to deteriorate. If left untreated over a longer period of time, it will eventually lead to tooth loss (requiring a tooth extraction).
Preventing Gum Disease From Developing
The easiest and best way to prevent gum disease from developing is an effective regime of daily flossing and brushing. In addition, regular dental examinations and professional cleanings. However, even with the most diligent dental care at home, we often develop some form of periodontal disease. If this disease begins, intervention by a dentist or specialist periodontist will be needed to stop its progression.
If you have any pain while brushing or have any questions about how to brush properly, please be sure to ask us.
Dr. Kelli Slate recommends using a soft tooth brush as opposed to one which is hard bristled.
A good brushing technique is as follows: position the brush at an angle of about 45 degrees to where your teeth and gums meet (i.e. the gum-line). Softly move the brush over the surfaces of your teeth in a circular motion. do not scrub your teeth up and down. Repeat this circular motion several times. When putting the bristles between the teeth, only use a light pressure. Do not apply pressure or force if you feel any discomfort.
When you are finished cleaning the outside surfaces of all your teeth, follow the same procedure while cleaning the inside of the back teeth.
To clean the inside surfaces of the lower and upper front teeth, hold the brush vertically. Make several back-and-forth strokes over each tooth in a gentle motion. And don’t forget to gently brush the surrounding gum tissue which helps to remove unwanted bacteria and left over residue from eating.
Finally, you should clean the biting surfaces of your teeth. Use short, gentle strokes and never ‘scrub’ your teeth as you would when cleaning a pot or pan. Change the position and orientation of the brush as often as necessary to clean all surfaces of your teeth. A nice technique is to look at yourself in the mirror, making sure you clean each surface. After you are finished, vigorously rinse your mouth to remove any loose plaque which may still be present.
Periodontal disease usually appears between teeth where your toothbrush can’t or doesn’t reach. Flossing is an effective way to remove stubborn plaque from those difficult to get at surfaces. However, it is important to use the proper technique. The following instructions will help you, but remember it does take time and practice.
Start with a piece of floss (waxed is easiest) about 18″ long. Lightly wrap the majority of the floss around the middle finger on one hand and the remainder around the middle finger of the other hand.
To clean the upper teeth, tightly grasp the floss between the thumb and middle finger of each hand. Gently insert the floss between the teeth and start using a back-and-forth motion. Do not try to force the floss or snap it into place. Bring the floss downwards to the gumline and curve it into a C-shape against one tooth. Slide it into the space between the gum and the tooth until you feel a slight resistance. Move it up and down on the side of one tooth. Then repeat for the other tooth. Continue to floss each side of all the upper teeth. Go gently and avoid cutting the gum tissue sitting between the teeth. As the floss becomes dirty, you can turn from one finger to the other and get a fresh section.
To clean between the bottom teeth, position the floss using the forefingers of both hands. And don’t forget the back side of the last tooth on both sides, upper and lower.
When you are finished, vigorously rinse with water to remove any loose plaque or food particles. Do not be worried during the first week of flossing if your gums bleed or are a little sore. If your gums start hurting while flossing, it is likely that you are using too much pressure. As you floss daily and remove the plaque your gums will begin to heal and the bleeding should stop.
Caring For Sensitive Teeth
It sometimes occurs after dental treatment that your teeth feel sensitive to hot and cold. This shouldn’t last long but only if your mouth is kept clean. If your mouth is not kept clean, the sensitivity will probably remain or worsen. We may recommend a medicated toothpaste, such as a prescription strength Sensodyne. If your teeth are especially sensitive after some time, please call us to make an appointment. We may recommend a medicated toothpaste or mouth rinse made especially for sensitive teeth.
Choosing Oral Hygiene Products
We are pleased to recommend FluoriMax5000 which can only be purchased at the dentist. However, there are many products on the market for better oral hygiene that we will be pleased to advise on. Why not ask one of the dental staff on your next visit for further advice?
Daily brushing and flossing will keep the build-up of plaque to a minimum. However, a professional cleaning will remove all of it and get to those stubborn places that your toothbrush and floss have missed.
If you have not had a check-up in the last 6 months then there is no time to delay. Dr. Kelli Slate recommends a dental examination twice a year. If you have any problems with your mouth, teeth or gums in the meantime, please call us or schedule an appointment online.
We like to take the opportunity of reminding people about the need for oral cancer screening. Please make sure you keep up to date with regular examinations. Dr. Kelli Slate is always available to answer your concerns.