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A girl brushing her teeth

Our teeth play a vital role in our everyday lives, and they should be looked after as carefully as possible. Unfortunately, many people don’t do this for reasons such as time, money, lack of instruction, cultural practices, or fear of the dentist. Regular visits to the dentist and dental hygienist are essential for your overall oral hygiene, but Cody Dental Group believes that dental care is a daily activity and should start at home.

Three key steps should be done to keep your teeth clean and healthy, and to avoid any unnecessary dental work. If patients follow these steps, most problems can be identified early, and the chances of more severe conditions developing will be significantly reduced.

It All Starts at Home

One of the key areas of dental care is maintaining thorough oral hygiene at home. It is true that we put a lot of strain on our teeth (360+ pounds of pressure per molar cusp) and that our mouths are fertile breeding grounds for bacteria, plaque, and calculus (tartar). It doesn’t matter whether you have the perfect smile or if you have had dental problems—good oral hygiene is the first line of defense against periodontal gum disease, decay and tooth extraction.

Do you know the difference between plaque, calculus, and tartar??

Plaque is an active, living, reproducing, and dying community. A plaque has an average life expectancy of 24-36 hours. When it dies, it begins to form a matrix that young bacteria can embed into…. Through recent DNA and bacteria scientific studies, our mouths contain a minimum of 600 forms of bacteria, many of which are staph and strep-related. This is why we brush!!! We have to reduce these bad bacteria’s in our mouth so that our teeth, lungs, immune, and overall health is not affected! The unfortunate piece of this story is that we can never get rid of all the bacteria, but we can affect the balances of good and bad bacteria. We need bacteria present to begin the digestive processes, and the body has built-in mechanisms to manage the bad bacteria, but…..because of our exposures to sugars (plaque’s favorite food) in nearly all pre-prepared foods, the bad bacteria always has the advantage. It is the acidic waste product of the plaque that causes decay and eventually periodontal disease. Another reason to brush well! Plaque is always looking for those areas of your mouth that you do not brush well…. Then they can set up a shop!

Calculus is the scientific term regarding the calcified shell that plaque leaves behind after it dies. It acts very much like a coral reef! Once this begins to form on the tooth your toothbrush is no longer able to remove it. This calcification process usually starts 36-48 hours after the plaque has remained undisturbed. This is what your Hygienist is hunting for and removing with scalers and ultrasonic tools.

Tartar is a layman term for calculus. They mean the same thing!

In general, good dental hygiene involves thoroughly brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing alongside a healthy and well-balanced diet. Your dentist or hygienist can give you advice on brushing techniques and what kind of brush is suitable for you. The goal of brushing is cleaning the gum line areas effectively around the whole tooth. That gum line tissue health is our barrier mechanism between the bacteria and our bloodstream. Your dental professional may also recommend using a specific toothpaste, mouthwash, toothpicks, floss or electric toothbrush. It all depends on the individual needs of a particular patient.

Remember that plaque’s favorite food is sugar. The more you give it the faster it grows!

Don’t Miss That Appointment

Even if you don’t notice any problems with your teeth or gums, it is important to visit your dentist every six months. During your appointment, the dentist will conduct a thorough check of your teeth and remedy any issues they notice. For example, if a cavity is spotted early, the dental work required will be straightforward. But if, on the other hand, you miss appointments and let the decay deepen, a root canal or other forms of dental surgery may be required.

Your dental hygienist will perform a thorough cleaning during the prophy appointment, which can help clean any difficult-to-reach spots such as the back molars. At the end of the appointment, the dentist and or hygienist may give the patient advice on any oral hygiene techniques to alleviate any minor issues like sensitive teeth or red gums.

Don’t Ignore the Advice

When your dentist gives you advice, they are not just doing it for their health. They are doing it to help ensure that your teeth and gums remain healthy. Let’s face it. Who enjoys a root canal or dental surgery?

During the appointment, the dentist can give you advice on:

  • Oral hygiene
  • Dental procedures such as extractions, crowns, and implants
  • Cosmetic surgery
  • Bite adjustments (this is very important)
  • Dietary options
  • Fears of the dentist
  • Any concerns you have about any area of oral health

Your dentist is and hygienist is there to help, so never feel embarrassed to ask questions. If they can’t help you, they will be able to refer you to a specialist. Remember to keep those gum line areas clean!