Cavities and gum disease are caused by plaque, a sticky combination of bacteria and food. Plaque begins to accumulate on the teeth within minutes after eating. If teeth are not brushed every day, plaque will lead to cavities or gum disease. If you do not remove plaque, it turns into a hard deposit known as tartar that becomes trapped at the base of the tooth. Plaque and tartar irritate and inflame the gums. The bacteria and the toxins they produce cause the gums to:
- They get infected
- They become inflamed
- Have greater sensitivity
By taking proper care of your teeth and gums, you can help prevent problems such as cavities and gum disease (gingivitis or periodontitis) . You should also teach children how to brush and floss from a young age to help protect their teeth. Plaque and tartar can lead to a variety of problems:
- Dental cavities are holes that damage the structure of the teeth.
- Gingivitis is swollen, inflamed and bleeding gums .
- Periodontitis is the destruction of the ligaments and bone that support the teeth, often leading to tooth loss.
- Bad breath(halitosis).
- Abscesses, pain, inability to use teeth.
- Other health problems outside the mouth, from preterm birth to heart disease.
HOW TO CARE FOR YOUR TEETH
Healthy teeth are clean and free of cavities. Healthy gums are pink and firm, and do not bleed. To maintain healthy teeth and gums, follow these steps:
- Floss at least once a day. It is best to do this before brushing your teeth. Flossing removes plaque from between your teeth and on your gums.
- Brush your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Brush for at least 2 minutes each time.
- Use toothpaste that contains fluoride. Fluoride helps strengthen tooth enamel and prevent cavities.
- Change your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months, or sooner if necessary. A worn brush is not as effective at cleaning your teeth. If you use an electric toothbrush, change the heads every 3 to 4 months in the same way.
- Eat a healthy diet. You are less likely to get gum disease if you eat healthy foods.
- Avoid sweets and sweetened drinks. Eating and drinking a lot of sweet things increases your risk of developing tooth decay. If you decide to eat or drink sweet things, brush your teeth after eating them.
- Do not smoke. Smokers have more teeth and gum problems than non-smokers.
- Keep dentures, retainers, and other appliances clean. This includes brushing them regularly. You may also need to soak them in a cleaning solution.
- Schedule visits to your dentist regularly. Many dentists recommend getting a professional teeth cleaning every 6 months for optimal oral health. You may need to see a dentist every 3 to 4 months if you have gum problems.
- Regular teeth cleaning by your dentist remove plaque that can build up, even with careful brushing and flossing. This is very important to reach areas that are difficult for you to reach. Professional cleaning includes scraping and polishing. This procedure involves the use of instruments to loosen and remove deposits from the teeth. Routine exams may include dental x-rays . Your dentist can catch problems early, so they don’t become more serious and expensive to fix.
WHEN TO CALL THE DENTIST
Call your dentist if you have symptoms of tooth decay that include:
- Tooth pain that happens for no apparent reason or is caused by food, drinks, brushing, or flossing
- Sensitivity to hot or cold drinks or foods
Seek early treatment for gum disease. Call your dentist if you have symptoms of gum disease that include:
- Red or swollen gums
- Bleeding gums when brushing teeth
- Bad breath
- loose teeth
- loose teeth