Keeping a regular preventative maintenance schedule with your hygienist and Dr. Angie at Village Smile Care helps you prevent not only tooth decay and periodontal disease but also avoid costly procedures and extra time in the hygiene chair.
A regular home prevention routine usually consists of brushing at least twice a day and flossing at least once per day. But did you know there are other tools to make taking care of your mouth a little easier? Depending on your needs, there are special kinds of toothpaste, rinses, and even flossing aids that can help you keep your smile bright and healthy for years to come. Village Smile Care can help you find the best tools to enhance your daily hygiene routine making your professional cleaning appointments shorter and less stressful.
Another significant factor in your oral health is your diet. Acidic foods and drinks can erode enamel just as a balanced diet can help keep your teeth and gums strong and healthy.
Regular professional exams and cleanings, a dedicated at-home hygiene routine, and a healthy, balanced diet can help prevent minor issues from becoming major procedures.
Oral Cancer Screening
Many patients are surprised at the large amount of surface area that we examine during an oral exam. At every hygiene visit, we examine all the tissues of your mouth including gums, cheeks, lips, tongue, and jaw. It is just as important to have regular soft tissue screenings as it is to have a professional dental cleaning.
Oral cancer can afflict anyone although tobacco users put themselves at a significantly higher risk than non-users. Chewing tobacco has up to 3000 different chemicals, including the same compounds used in pesticides and embalming fluid. Cellular changes below the surface aren’t always detectable until they’ve advanced to a critical stage.
Early detection and treatment of oral cancer can significantly increase your chances of a quick and complete recovery. The American Cancer Society reports that about 7,000 deaths result from oral cancer out of 30,000 cases diagnosed annually. If we suspect any unusual changes in your mouth tissue, we may suggest a biopsy and microscopic analysis by a qualified lab.
Many other non-cancerous changes can occur in your mouth’s tissue, from oral warts to autoimmune lesions. Dr. Angie draws on her background in oral pathology to evaluate any abnormalities and determine if they should be monitored or removed.
We understand tobacco holds strong addictive powers over even the most health-conscious people. If you’re determined to quit, we want to support you in your efforts. Talk to your hygienist or Dr. Angie about the strategies and resources we have available so you can kick the habit.
Maintaining a healthy smile depends on what happens between your visits with us. Good home care habits can be established by anyone committed to carving out a few minutes each day. Like regular exercise, consistency is the key to building a healthy habit. Brushing twice a day for at least two minutes and flossing once a day are the standard for ideal home care.
With so many products on the market today, it can be confusing to sort it out alone. Your hygienist can help you narrow down the endless options and form a home care plan that fits your personal needs. Will an electric toothbrush help you keep your mouth cleaner between professional visits? Based on your unique chemistry, would a prescription toothpaste help reduce plaque? Many factors fit into a plan to maximize the time and effort you put into keeping your smile healthy.
Some patients considered high-risk for dental problems benefit from even more customized routines. Simple, inexpensive substitutions can dramatically reduce the risk and symptoms of periodontal disease. For example, Xylitol, when used in the right dosages, can minimize cavities in children and adults.
While dental emergencies can strike anyone, anytime, our patients who commit to regular preventive care appointments usually experience fewer problems over time. Professional cleanings with a registered dental hygienist allow us to take a proactive approach to your dental health and address issues while they are small. Despite your best efforts, deposits of mineralized plaque, known as tartar, adhere to areas of the teeth. These deposits create a nice home for millions of harmful bacteria. Left unchecked, they flood toxins into the gums resulting in devastating chronic problems and can even result in the loss of teeth.
When tartar is removed at your professional hygiene appointment, it doesn’t have the opportunity to produce irreversible damage. We use professional instruments and prescription strength polishing paste that gently buffs away stain and plaque, leaving your teeth ultra-smooth and shiny. Since discoloration settles into the enamel of your teeth over time, this helps slow yellowing while creating a glassy surface for better cleaning.
Periodontal disease, commonly known as gum disease, affects about 30% of the adult population and is the number one cause of tooth loss in adults. Many denture cases begin because of this chronic condition. While not curable, with regular professional hygiene appointments and consistent home care, it is controllable.
Gum disease can advance with few signs or symptoms. Many patients diagnosed with this condition experience no pain and are surprised by the quiet yet swift damage that periodontal disease leaves in its wake. In simple terms, look at your gums and bone around your teeth like the foundation of a house. Just like a house, the foundation must be sound regardless of the beauty of the home. When the foundation crumbles, the rest of it does too.
Regular dental exams, professional cleanings, and good home care practices are essential to detecting and strategically managing periodontitis.
What Causes Gum Disease?
Our mouths provide a home to millions of bacteria, both beneficial and harmful. Bacterial waste forms a sticky substance, called plaque, which adheres to the teeth. Brushing and flossing remove plaque before it mineralizes into tartar. Tartar becomes a colony for more bacteria releasing toxins into the gums.
Thanks to your immune system, gums react to this bacterial invasion with an inflammatory response. Around the base of each tooth, there is a collar of gum tissue that forms a small pocket. This warm, dark environment provides a perfect habitat for tartar and bacteria to infiltrate.
Early inflammation results in bleeding gums, known as gingivitis. Bacteria left untreated and undisturbed create a chronic infection in the periodontal pocket. In many cases, the bone begins to deteriorate around the teeth. While gums may be slightly tender at this stage, there’s generally minimal discomfort as the bone begins to erode.
More than 50% of the bone around your teeth can disappear before you notice any signs of looseness or pain. The bone around teeth never regenerates, so this loss becomes permanent and harder to control as the bacteria hide deeper in the gums. In advanced cases, untreated gum disease leads to abscesses and generalized tooth loss.
There are several factors we take into account before we make a gum disease diagnosis. The small collar of gum, or pocket, around each tooth is usually 2-3 millimeters deep, a space that is easily cleaned by floss or toothpicks. Dr. Angie or our hygiene team can measure and chart these areas using a small measuring device called a periodontal probe. If these measurements are more than 3 millimeters and bleed upon probing, then periodontal disease is present.
The dentist will also evaluate the texture and shape of your gums and detect any movement in each tooth. It’s also vital to examine the levels, shape, and density of the bone around your teeth on digital x-rays. By collecting this data, a clear picture forms about your gum condition.
After establishing a diagnosis that defines the severity of your gum disease, we can develop a personalized treatment plan. In milder forms with little or no bone loss, one or two visits with our hygiene team may bring the condition under control. When you leave our office with a strategy for daily home care and an established professional maintenance schedule, little additional treatment may be needed.
If the inflammation has advanced and measurable bone loss is evident, a proactive approach to stop further deterioration should be strongly considered. Often, we will suggest gentle numbing of your gums and root planing or scaling. Over a few visits, a portion of your mouth at a time will be deep cleaned. The infected pocket around each tooth, including the mineralized tartar, must be carefully cleaned out with both hand and ultrasonic instruments. Polishing the teeth to create smooth surfaces that help repel stain and plaque accumulation usually finishes this initial therapy.
The dentist may suggest a medicated rinse, an electric or ultrasonic toothbrush, and other specific strategies to help you with your home care routine. Remember, gum disease can be controlled but not cured. Consistent home care is required to control the disease.
Regular home care is critical to stop the progression of gum disease. Within a few hours of cleaning, the bacteria begin to repopulate and adhere to the teeth. Plaque left undisturbed will start to harden and mineralize within 24 hours. Remember, deeper gum pockets require even more diligence to prevent the bacteria from undermining the foundation of your teeth.
Since gum pockets previously damaged by bacteria can be difficult to clean at home, a faithful maintenance schedule with us is essential. We can customize your plan to include two, three or four visits a year depending on the severity of the disease, its response to treatment, and the consistency of your home care.
If our combined efforts don’t slow or stop the progression of your gum disease, we may suggest a referral to a specialist, known as a periodontist.
Studies show a link between oral bacteria and conditions such as heart disease, stroke, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, and even certain types of cancer. The relationship between a person’s oral health and their whole-body health has never been more understood than it is today.
Bleeding gums provide a direct pathway into the bloodstream, a journey that oral bacteria can quickly take. If an open wound existed on your skin, infection would be a concern. Gum tissue that bleeds should be looked at no differently. This helps explain why researchers continue to identify oral bacteria deposits in various areas of our bodies.
Diabetes and other auto-immune disorders lower the body’s ability to fight infection, allowing uncontrolled gum disease to advance faster and with more destruction. Research also confirms that the inflammation in the mouth can aggravate diabetes, making it harder to control. This two-way relationship between two chronic conditions emphasizes the importance of proper oral care.