You need healthy teeth and gums for good overall health. Without them, it is tricky to eat well and enjoy a good, varied and nutritious diet. Without good nutrition, your body is less able to fight infection and disease. Several common problems can affect your dental health, but with good preventative dentistry, you should be able to maintain strong teeth and gums throughout your lifetime.
Teeth are covered with a protective outer coating called enamel that is extremely hard but can be damaged by the bacteria in dental plaque. Dental plaque, a sticky film containing these bacteria, builds up over your tooth surfaces daily. The bacteria thrive on leftover foods and produce acids that can weaken your enamel, eventually causing holes that develop into cavities.
Brushing your teeth at least twice daily and flossing each day can help prevent tooth decay, but if you have a small hole or cavity in your tooth, it is essential to have a dental filling. When you visit our dentist regularly, we can soon discover any weak spots or tiny lesions on your teeth and can mend them quickly, preventing a cavity from worsening.
Gum disease is a bacterial infection caused by dental plaque building up around your gum line, the junction where your teeth meet your gums. These bacteria cause infection and inflammation in your gums that eventually begin to destroy them and the bone surrounding your teeth, which helps hold them in place. Initially, the early signs of gum disease, called gingivitis, can make your gums bleed when you brush or floss your teeth. Gingivitis is easily reversed by having your teeth cleaned professionally and ensuring you clean your teeth thoroughly each day.
More serious gum disease, called periodontitis, requires more extensive treatment to control and prevent tooth loss. We assess your gum health very carefully during routine checkups and can treat any early signs of gum disease before this condition turns into periodontitis. It is extremely important to try and prevent gum disease from worsening because periodontitis can impact your overall health.
Dry mouth is a condition called xerostomia, as breathing through your mouth dries out any saliva present, so your mouth no longer feels moist. It can make it harder to chew food properly, swallow, wear dentures, and even speak. Dry mouth can increase the risk of fungal infections and tooth decay, and it is a common side-effect of many medicines. These medicines include those prescribed for depression, high blood pressure, and bladder problems. Decongestants and antihistamines can also cause dry mouth.
When we see a patient with dry mouth, we can work with them to help reduce the impact on oral health. Various strategies include drinking more water, chewing sugar-free gum or sucking on sugar-free sweets to help stimulate saliva flow. We may suggest more frequent checkups and cleanings, as dry mouth allows harmful bacteria found in dental plaque to thrive. Eliminating these bacteria more regularly helps prevent disease. Another strategy is to use a saliva substitute to help keep your mouth moist.