Hygiene Services

Professional cleanings on a regular basis are very important and not just because you may like your teeth whiter looking.  In fact, even if your teeth are white, it doesn’t mean that they or the supporting bone and soft tissues are healthy. More studies are needed, but some researchers suspect that bacteria and inflammation linked to periodontitis play a role in some systemic diseases or conditions. Likewise, diseases such as diabetes and  blood cell disorders. Several studies link chronic inflammation from periodontitis with the development of cardiovascular problems. Some evidence suggests oral bacteria may be linked to heart disease, artery blockages and stroke.

Frequency of Professional Tooth Cleaning

The frequency of professional teeth cleaning depends on the health of your teeth and gums, for example healthy children and adults should have their teeth cleaned at least twice a year.  If you’re a smoker or have a tendency to get gum infections you should visit your dentist more often. It’s a good idea to actually ask your dentist how often you should visit their office. The old saying “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is an extremely wise piece of advice when it comes to your oral health. When dental problems are detected and treated early, the damage is not nearly as severe and the problem is much simpler to remedy.  Small cavities can grow and necessitate the need for a root canal or, if left untreated for an extended period of time, can destroy a tooth completely.  Likewise, when plaque and tartar build-up are left on your teeth’s crowns and roots for too long then gingivitis can lead to periodontal disease. The American Dental Association recommends that everyone see the dentist for a regular dental cleaning and check up every six months. Good oral hygiene consists of several aspects that are all important in their own right. Home care should consist of a minimum of brushing your teeth twice a day, after meals, and regular flossing of your teeth.  Brushing your tongue will also help to prevent the buildup of food and plaque and associated halitosis.  Your diet plays an important role in you oral health as well.  Frequent intake of sugary or acid-containing foods is detrimental to your teeth.  Remember that it’s not the amount, but rather the frequency that is the most damaging.  Lastly, regular professional dental cleaning and accompanying exam are important because there simply is no substitute for a good professional cleaning.

Periodontal Disease

Periodontal (gum disease) is an acute or chronic infectious process affecting the tissues surrounding the teeth. This includes the gums and the fibrous attachments which buttress the teeth and supporting bone. Gone unchecked, periodontal disease can result in bone loss and eventual loose teeth and tooth loss. It is often associated with systemic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.Periodontal disease is usually a slow, painless and progressive process. Most adults with periodontal disease are unaware they have it. If diagnosed and treated early, however, the teeth can be saved. The primary cause of periodontal disease is the accumulation of bacterial plaque at and under the gum line. Plaque is an often colorless mass of bacteria and food debris that sticks to teeth, dental crowns, dental bridges and other tissues in the oral cavity. Plaque is constantly forming on the teeth and must be removed regularly to maintain dental and periodontal health. Inadequate oral hygiene results in irritation of the gums, causing them to become red, tender, and swollen. Over time, plaque combines with natural minerals in the mouth forming calculus (tartar). This adheres to the teeth and forms a rough surface on the teeth and roots, allowing for even more plaque accumulation. Calculus of itself does not cause the deterioration of the periodontal attachment. Rather, it creates an environment for the further colonization of bacterial plaque on the irregular root surfaces. The bacteria initiate and perpetuate the inflammatory process that causes periodontal disease.

Links Between Gum Disease and Systemic Diseases

Studies have been done to show that there may be a link between periodontitis (gum disease) and systemic diseases or conditions.  When you are going to have an operation, heart surgeons insist that all infections be resolved before surgery.  And that is exactly what gum disease is–an infection of the soft tissues of your mouth, your gums.  Some evidence suggests oral bacteria may be linked to heart disease, artery blockages, as well as stroke. Diabetics often have gum disease and they are more likely to develop periodontal disease than non-diabetics. Other studies suggest that the gum disease make it more difficult to control their blood sugar. Just because gum disease may contribute to these health conditions doesn’t mean that one condition causes another. However, we do know that people who smoke and people with diabetes are at increased risk of gum disease. The mouth is a window into the health of the body.  It can show signs of general infection, drug addiction, or eating disorders. Diseases such as AIDS, diabetes, or Sjogrens syndrome may first become apparent because of oral conditions. So, getting regular dental check ups and professional cleanings could just possibly help detect a serious problem.

Fluoride Treatment

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that has been utilized for many years to help prevent tooth decay. Tooth decay begins when the bacteria and sugars present in the mouth form acids that erode the tooth’s protective enamel. These acids cause minerals to be lost from the tooth’s enamel layer, a process called demineralization. Left unchecked, this can lead to the formation of holes (cavities) in the teeth. Fluoride helps strengthen the teeth through process called remineralization wherein the mineral bonds to weakened areas of tooth enamel. It also disrupts acid production, helping to inhibit the process that leads to tooth decay. Fluoride can benefit people of all ages. Children who get adequate fluoride while their teeth are still forming will develop permanent teeth that are stronger and more decay-resistant over a lifetime.  Adults who are particularly susceptible to tooth decay also benefit from fluoride application. While fluoride can help reverse early tooth decay and prevent cavities, it cannot heal cavities that have already formed. Therefore, it is a great and cost-effective strategy for maintaining dental health and preventing more expensive problems later on. Topical fluoride strengthens the teeth once they have erupted by seeping into the outer surface of the tooth enamel, making the teeth more resistant to decay.  We gain topical fluoride by using fluoride containing dental products such as toothpaste, mouth rinses, and gels.  Dentists and dental hygienists generally recommend that children have a professional application of fluoride twice a year during dental check-ups.

Sealants

A dental sealant is a plastic coating applied to the chewing surfaces of back teeth. Grooves in these teeth are so narrow that a toothbrush cannot fit into the spaces to remove plaque (the biofilm of bacterium that causes decay in the mouth). Dental sealants prevent dental decay in these grooves.  Teeth with restorations already present would not benefit from sealants. Children should receive sealants on permanent molars as soon as they erupt (about ages 6 and 12 years). Sealants can provide 100% protection from dental decay or “cavities” on the chewing surface. Research has shown that when placed over very minimal dental decay, the decay will no longer progress. Sealants take only a few minutes to apply.  First the teeth are cleaned and the chewing surfaces are conditioned to help the sealant to adhere to the tooth. The sealant is then “painted” onto the enamel surface, where it bonds directly to the tooth and hardens. We may use a curing light to help harden the surface quicker. We check the integrity of the sealants every time you have a checkup and reapply them if necessary.  We warranty sealants for a period of three years.  Sealants hold up well  under the force of normal chewing and usually do not have to be replaced unless excessive sticky foods are eaten. Sealants are not just for children.  Adults can also be at risk for this type of decay and benefit from sealants as well.

Ask us if you or your child would benefit from sealants.