Dental Health






Your Teeth

Throughout your life, you will have two sets of teeth, primary (baby) teeth and secondary (permanent) teeth. At age 6-8 months, the primary teeth appear and all 20 are in place by age 3. Permanent teeth will begin to grow around age 6, and except for wisdom teeth, are all present between ages 12 and 14. The next teeth to grow in are the 12-year molars and finally the wisdom teeth at around age 17. The total number of permanent teeth is 32, though few people have room for all 32 teeth. This is why wisdom teeth are usually removed.

Your front teeth are called incisors. The sharp “fang-like” teeth are canines. The next side teeth are referred to as pre-molars or bicuspids, and the back teeth are molars. Your permanent teeth are the ones you keep for life, so it is vital that they are brushed and flossed regularly and that periodic check-ups by a dentist are followed.

Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is a progressive disease that is the result of an interaction between bacteria, that naturally occur in the mouth and sugars in your everyday diet. The bacteria eat the sugars, producing acids that breaks down the mineral in teeth, forming a cavity. Dentists remove the decay and fill the tooth using a variety of filling materials, restoring the tooth to a healthy state. Nerve damage can result from severe decay and may require a root canal therapy and crown (a crown is like a large filling that can cap a tooth, making it stronger by covering it). To combat tooth decay you simply need to brush and floss regularly, have 6 month dental checkups and cleanings.

Periodontal Disease

In recent years, periodontal disease has been linked to chronic health problems like stroke, coronary artery disease, and premature low birth weight babies. Our doctors and hygienists take great care to identify and treat gum disease early to keep you and your mouth healthy. Periodontal simply means “the bone and gums around the teeth.” Periodontists specialize in the treatment and surgery of this area, which is often characterized by gum disease. Plaque is the most common element causing gum disease. It is a soft white material that forms on the surface of your teeth. In situations where this plaque is not removed, hard minerals will form called calculus. Because of this irritation, the gums get inflamed and sensitive and the body starts to lose bone around the teeth. When we see the signs of periodontal disease, a deep cleaning is recommended and will help you keep your teeth longer.

Unfortunately, periodontal-related problems are often discovered after they have persisted for an extended period of time. Proper oral hygiene, daily dental care and regular dental checkups will minimize the risk of gum disease. Gum disease ranges from mild (gingivitis) to moderate (periodontitis) to the severe (periodontitis). Treatments are available for every case of gum disease.

Common problems associated with gum disease:

  • “Long” teeth (receding gum lines expose the root portions of your teeth)
  • Discolored or deteriorating tooth structure
  • Gum depressions (holes in between the teeth in the gum tissue)
  • Infected gum line (discoloration or inflammation of the gum tissue)
  • Tooth loss or tooth movement

The effects of gum disease can be damaging to your dental health. However, through proper preventive care and oral hygiene, you can avoid problems associated with gum disease.

Your Child’s Teeth

Innumerable studies and research have concluded on the importance of starting children early in their lives with good dental hygiene and oral care. According to research, the most common chronic childhood disease in America is tooth decay, affecting 50 percent of first-graders and 80 percent of 17-year-olds. Early treatment prevents problems affecting a child’s health, well-being, self-image and overall achievement.

The National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research estimates that children will miss 52 million hours of school each year due to oral health problems and about 12.5 million days of restricted activity every year from dental symptoms. Because there is such a significant loss in their academic performance, the Surgeon General has made children’s oral health a priority.

Parents are responsible for ensuring their children practice good dental hygiene. Parents must introduce proper oral care early in a child’s life—as early as infancy. The American Dental Hygiene Association states that a good oral hygiene routine for children includes:

  • Thoroughly cleaning your infant’s gums after each feeding with a water-soaked infant cloth. This stimulates the gum tissue and removes food.
  • Gently brushing your baby’s erupted teeth with a small, soft-bristled toothbrush and using a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste.
  • Teaching your child at age 2 or 3 about proper brushing techniques and later teaching them brushing and gentle flossing until 7 or 8 years old.
  • Regular visits with their dentist to check for cavities in the primary teeth and for possible developmental problems.
  • Encouraging your child to discuss any fears they may have about oral health visits, but not mentioning words like “pain” or “hurt,” since this may instill the possibility of pain in the child’s thought process.
  • Determining if the water supply that serves your home is fluoridated; if not, discussing supplement options with your dentist or hygienist.
  • Asking your hygienist or dentist about sealant applications to protect your child’s teeth-chewing surfaces and about bottle tooth decay, which occurs when teeth are frequently exposed to sugared liquids.
Fluoride

Fluoride is a substance that helps teeth become stronger and resistant to decay. Regularly drinking water treated with fluoride and brushing and flossing regularly ensures significantly lower cavities. Dentists can evaluate the level of fluoride in a primary drinking water source and recommend fluoride supplements (usually in tablets or drops), if necessary.