encourage healthy habits

General Info

Dental caries, also known as dental decay or cavities, is the breakdown of the hard tissues of the tooth. The breakdown of the tooth is caused by acids produced by the bacteria found in the plaque. Once is has broken down the process will lead to pits or holes (cavities) in the teeth and will require treatment. Seeing your dental professional will allow the diagnosis of dental decay and the proper treatment will be recommended. Without treatment the teeth can decay to a point that they are unrestorable and need removed or the treatment can be more severe, bi-annual checkups will help catch the decay on a smaller scale usually allowing the treatment to be less invasive.

Stages of Tooth Decay:

  • Stage 1: Demineralization is a pre-decay stage that usually shows up as a chalky white or brown area on the tooth. This is not yet a cavity and can be reversed and proper brushing and flossing can help prevent it from becoming a cavity and needing treatment.
  • Stage 2: The demineralization area has now broken through the enamel, which is top layer of the tooth and now requires treatment.
  • Stage 3: The top layer of the tooth is the strongest and now that the decay has broken through to the softer layers the decay will start to move more rapidly and become more painful without treatment.
  • Stage 4: As the decay gets bigger it can develop into bigger problems deeper in the tooth, which may develop infection and require Root Canal Treatment and or extraction of the tooth.

Once cavities are diagnosed your dental team will talk to you about treatment options and may require fillings, crowns or other options.

To avoid decay you may follow these tips:

  • Avoid sugary foods and drinks that feed bacteria in the mouth
  • Use tooth paste and mouth wash that contain fluoride to help strengthen teeth.
  • Brush and floss daily, twice a day for brushing and once a day for flossing.
  • Talk to you dentist about any medical condition that may increase decay and prevention.
  • Talk to dentist about other factors that may be increasing the decay rate.

Most of think that bad breath is created only by the foods we eat such as garlic or onions. However, it may be surprising to learn that the main cause of bad breath is bacteria in the mouth especially the tongue. There are a few causes of bad breath for instance:

  • FOOD: The food will collect bacteria if it is collected on or between the teeth and the bacteria will produce odor.
  • POOR DENTAL HYGIENE: Plaque contains bacteria causing bad breath. This needs to be removed from your teeth gums and tongue on a daily basis. Cavities and gingivitis which is also caused from poor hygiene, also create bad breath.
  • MEDICAL CONDITIONS: Respiratory tract infections, chronic sinus infections, recurring bronchitis and diabetes are among a few of the medical conditions that may attribute to bad breath problems. Most of these can be controlled but may require more attentive hygiene.
  • TOBACCO USE: Smoking may also cause chronic bad breath from build-up of tar and nicotine, it also reduces saliva flow which can cause bad breath and higher decay rates.

How to Get Rid of Bad Breath

The easiest solution is good oral hygiene. Make sure that you are brushing 2 times a day and flossing daily, this should be routine and include teeth, gums and tongue. Use an antibacterial toothpaste and mouthwash to help kill odor causing bacteria. Also a mixture of 50/50 water/peroxide can be used as a rinse to help kill the bacteria, this is not recommended daily but may be used once or twice a week.

In between brushing you can help keep breath fresh by rinsing with mouthwash after meals, chewing a sugarless gum, one that is recommended is Spry gum made with 100% xylitol which is an all natural sweetener that has been proven to help fight cavities and cut bacteria. Snacking on foods that help loosen debris such as celery, carrots and apples and finally eating a nutritious diet can help replenish vitamins because vitamin deficiency can also contribute to bad breath.

Bleeding gums when brushing can indicate that you are brushing too hard however, the more likely answer can be something a little more serious.

Bleeding Gums Causes

The main cause of bleeding gums is poor hygiene. When plaque builds up on the gums and teeth and is left there it can cause gingivitis which is an early stage of gum disease, bleeding will be paired with puffiness and redness. Gingivitis is when plaque, which contains bacteria builds up on the teeth and produces toxins that irritate the gums. Usually gingivitis is diagnosed by symptoms which include, bleeding, puffy, sore, inflamed or red gums. This can develop into a more serious condition if not managed properly.

Although poor hygiene is the main cause of gingivitis there are other factors that might increase your risk such as, smoking, stress, hormonal changes, poor nutrition, medications and chronic diseases.

There are a number of treatments and preventions that can be done to help improve and manage gingivitis the key is to keep the teeth nice and clean from plaque.

  1. Brush thoroughly twice a day with an antigingivitis toothpaste
  2. Rinse daily using an antigingivitis mouthwash
  3. Use a soft bristled manual or powered toothbrush
  4. Floss daily
  5. Visit your dental professional regularly

Pregnancy gingivitis is another form that is caused by the rise in the hormone progesterone, which can also cause an increase in the flow of blood to the gingiva. These hormonal changes can make it easier for certain bacteria to grow and cause the gum tissues to be tender. This can occur somewhere between the second and eighth month but will be more severe during the second trimester.

The best way to find out the reason for bleeding gums is to make a dental appointment and have it evaluated and at that time a treatment will be recommended.

The colorless or pale yellow sticky film that is constantly forming on your teeth is known as Dental plaque. Plaque contains bacteria and forms between your teeth and along the gum line by combining saliva food and fluids. This process will start to happen within 12 hours after brushing which is why it is so important to brush twice a day and floss daily.

Proper Cleaning

There are a few simple steps to a good oral hygiene routine.

  • A proper brushing technique
    This is the first step to maintaining healthy gums and teeth. This also helps minimize the risk of tooth decay and gum disease which is the major cause of tooth loss. If there are any questions be sure to ask your dental professional of their recommendations. Use a soft bristle tooth brush and a fluoride toothpaste, this will ensure that you have the best advantage at good hygiene.
  • Two minutes, twice a day
    Brushing is not how hard but how long that makes it more effective. It is recommended to brush two minutes two times a day using the proper technique with a soft bristle toothbrush. There are 4 areas of the mouth UR, UL, LR, LL that require 30 seconds of brushing time each, it does not matter if it’s a manual or automatic toothbrush as long as the technique is correct. If you are wanting to ensure that you’re spending enough time brushing getting a toothbrush with a timer is always helpful or if using a manual toothbrush you can get a timer to set next to you and time yourself.
  • Positioning the toothbrush
    The angle at which you should hold the toothbrush depends on which area you are brushing. Where you start in the mouth will differ for everybody but generally most start on the outer or inner surfaces. Start by holding the toothbrush at a 45 degree angle, circular motion making sure to get along the gum line. Then move on to the chewing surface of the teeth using a flat angle back and forth, making sure to get the very back teeth with the groves in these teeth they are more likely to decay and require a lot of attention. When you get to the inside of the teeth it is import to turn the toothbrush vertically using up and down motions. Finally brushing your tongue and roof of mouth using back-to-front sweeping motion to remove the food particles and odor-causing bacteria to freshen your breath. Now with proper technique all that’s left is discipline to ensure good hygiene.

Flossing has become a lot easier and more convenient now due to the disposable one use flossers. However, the technique is still the same so whether using a disposable flosser or 18 inch piece of floss the idea will remain the same.

If using the string floss start by wrapping it around the middle finger on either hand so that there is a small area to floss with but there is available clean floss to use as needed. Curve the floss into a C-Shape and floss between the adjacent teeth. Now the technique is the same with the string or the disposable flossers. Run the floss down the back side of one tooth and then back up the front of the tooth adjacent to it. Continue this process throughout the mouth until all the teeth have been flossed don’t forget to floss both sides of the teeth as well. This should be added to your daily brushing routine to help with good hygiene maintenance.

How is dental fluoride beneficial?

Dental fluoride works by combining with the minerals in your teeth to form a stronger, more acid resistant enamel. Demineralization is started when the acids produced from plaque start to break down the minerals in your tooth enamel, this is a pre-cavity stage and can be reversed by remineralizing the tooth by using dental fluoride. It starts by weakening the tooth and then turns to decay and eventually can cause tooth pain and discomfort.

There are two ways that fluoride works to protect the enamel-systemically and topically.

Systemically is a fluoride that is ingested through water, fluoridated foods and supplements. This fluoride is most effective when teeth are developing and not erupted in the mouth yet, it helps the development and helps to assure the teeth come in strong and healthy.

Topical fluoride is found in fluoride toothpaste, fluoride mouthwash and is usually given to you at your bi-annual dental appointment.

When given at the dentist it’s a higher concentrate and so its not needed as frequent so its just given 2 times a year. Topical fluoride in toothpaste or mouth wash is usually recommended for use at home when the remineralizing of teeth is needed. Using fluoride mouthwash and toothpaste has been clinically proven to help fight decay and should be used throughout your life, however until your child is able to spit it is recommended to use a very small amount of fluoride or not use it at all. It is best to speak with you child’s dentist about their thoughts on it.

Other ways that dental fluoride can help prevent cavities:

There is also a small amount of released in our saliva that helps keep teeth strong as it bathes them, and acts as a natural method for cleaning the teeth. Besides keeping the teeth strong and helping to remineralize them the two types of fluoride help prevent cavities by affecting the bacteria in plaque, making it less able to produce the acids that cause decay.

Dental Hygiene for Kids

Baby teeth start developing while the child is in the womb developing, the teeth can not be seen for the most part because they are hidden by the gums. There are rare occasions where teeth come in right after birth or a child is born with teeth but for the most part the teeth start erupting around 6 months. It is good to start good oral hygiene and bi-annual appointments with the dentist to develop good habits, this could start even before the first teeth erupt.

  • Before teeth erupt wiping the baby’s gums with a soft washcloth after feeding is recommended, as this helps remove the bacteria that can cause tooth decay.
  • Once the teeth erupt it is recommended to brush 2 times a day with a soft bristle tooth brush, using a small amount of fluoride toothpaste (between a grain of rice and pea size)
  • A decay pattern typically called “bottle rot” stems from prolonged bottle use, this can also be caused from a sippy cup. The biggest factor for bottle rot is the frequency that the child is introducing the acid that is created from the milk, juice, formula or even breast feeding. It is recommended not to allow the child to travel with the bottle or sippy cup or go to sleep with them filled with anything other than water.
  • Schedule the first dental appointment by age 1 or when the first teeth erupt. If bottle or sippy cup is still being used make sure that the teeth, tongue, and gums are properly cleaned after use and at bedtime.

As kids grow their oral hygiene habits will grow with them. Starting them at a young age is good so they develop the habits needed for good strong teeth. Most children have all their baby teeth by age 3, these are called primary teeth. Generally, around age 6 they will start losing their baby teeth and then the permanent teeth will start erupting. Gaps between baby teeth and permanent teeth are normal and usually all permanent teeth are in by age 12.

There are a few tip to help keep your child’s teeth healthy and strong starting at age 3:

  • Use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste and make sure you child is not swallowing it.
  • Be sure to brush at least 2 minutes twice a day.
  • Start flossing as soon as teeth touch or even earlier to develop good habits.
  • Help your child brush and floss and remind him or her to pay attention to the molars in the back.
  • Regular bi-annual dental visits.

As the child develops and the permanent teeth are erupting it is important to make sure they are brushing and flossing daily. It also becomes more important to pay attention to the teeth that are present because as they erupt there will be discomfort and children tend to avoid these areas. This is about the same time that they are starting to do it themselves and it is important they have established good habits to take care of them.

Primary dentition consists of 20 teeth meanwhile permanent dentition is 32 teeth. Because there are more permanent teeth than primary teeth the first set of permanent molars erupt in the empty space behind the primary molars. As the child grows the jaw grows and lengthens to create space for the permanent molars.

There is a wide range of “normal” time for the teeth to be lost, however it usually starts about age 6 with the loss of the lower center teeth. The exfoliation process is created by the eruption of the permanent tooth resorbing the baby tooth’s root and eventually falling out. Once the baby teeth start falling out and permanent teeth erupt the child is now in a stage called “mixed dentition”, this means having both primary and permanent teeth in the mouth.

Eventually around the age of 10-12 all 20 primary teeth are replaced by 32 permanent teeth. Starting with the lower to front teeth (incisors) and then usually ending with the primary second molars (set of baby molars that are in the very back). From time to time the permanent teeth do not erupt the way they should and then there will be the permanent tooth and baby tooth in the mouth at the same time, more often than not this requires help from the dentist to get the baby teeth out. Time of eruption is not as important as symmetry (the same teeth coming in at the same time on both sides of the mouth) eruption. All of the eruption process is monitored through periodic 6 month appointments.