We recommend that you visit us at least twice a year for a teeth cleaning appointment, which also includes a basic exam. You’ll hear dental professionals refer to this kind of appointment as prophylaxis (prophy for short), which is a word that comes from a Greek term that means “guard”. The services we perform during your teeth cleaning & checkup are intended to guard against the spread & development of disease, particularly tooth decay & gum disease.
Think of your preventive dental care in terms of this metaphor: you’re at home & a bad rain storm is coming. What would you rather respond to, a weather report telling you that there is a flood warning, or three feet of water in your living room? Wouldn’t you want the early warning so you have time to place sandbags to keep the water out?
As a dental patient, which would you rather have, a dental hygienist gently removing plaque & tartar from your teeth, or the dentist telling you that your tooth is too far gone to be saved & has to be removed?
We say this not to scare you & not as a threat, but because we want you to think of preventive dentistry as an early warning system for your mouth. We’d rather let you know about the risks to your health & help you take preventive measures than be on the phone with the insurance company telling them about the damage.
A few dozens sandbags are a lot cheaper than replacing your belongings & repairing damage to your house. Preventive dentistry, like teeth cleanings, is much cheaper than restorative repair to fix decay, such as fillings, crowns, & bridges or gum disease treatments. If you have dental insurance, most of your annual preventive dental care is covered & won’t cost you any extra money. That’s like if your homeowner’s insurance offered you a load of sandbags for free twice a year, just in case there was a flood. If you knew there was a risk of flooding, why would your refuse the offer?
So if you want to avoid costly restorative dentistry or gum disease treatments in the future, be sure to come see us every six months for your preventive care & cleaning appointment. An hour of your time twice a year is well worth trying to repair the damage after a catastrophe!
Any dentist will tell you that dental care is important, but what we might not explain is exactly WHY dental care is important. Though you see a different doctor for your physical health than you do for your oral health, much of what your dentist does is connected to your overall health.
The most common reason for visiting the dentist is to get a teeth cleaning. And while professional dental cleanings are a great way to keep your smile bright, they are also vitally important to your health. Cleanings are the dentist’s opportunity to assess your dental health & detect problems that may also affect your general health.
A dentist can tell a lot about you & your health by looking at your mouth. Things like bad breath & the color of your tongue can be indications of health issues that may be affecting your entire body. The level of build up on your teeth (plaque, tartar, etc.) can be an indication of how healthy & balanced your diet is.
Here are a few more examples of how your dental health & your overall health are connected:
Studies have shown a link between gum disease & heart disease. Seeing your dentist regularly to treat &/or prevent gum disease may help prevent cardiovascular problems in the future.
Because of certain hormonal changes during pregnancy, a dentist or dental hygienist may know a woman is pregnant even before she tells them, just by looking at her gums. Pregnant woman are also at higher risk for periodontal disease, which has been linked to low birth weight & premature birth.
Dentists can perform tests to detect oral cancer. Early detection of oral cancer can have a large impact on outcomes.
Gum disease affects the ability of patients with diabetes to control blood sugar. Also, the high blood sugar associated with diabetes can put patients at higher risk for infection, including gum disease.
With all of this knowledge of how your dental health & your overall health are connected, be sure to keep your cleaning appointment with your dentist & bring up any concerns or questions you may have.
The official name for toothpaste is dentrifice, which means any substance intended to remove debris from teeth in order to prevent tooth decay. Dentrifice used to include both tooth powders and toothpastes, until the invention of the toothpaste tube made pre-mixed pastes much more popular because they were more convenient. Dentrifice is still the French word for toothpaste, though it hasn’t been used in English since around the turn of the 20th century.
All toothpastes have at least two key components: abrasives and surfactants. Abrasives are rough materials that aid the toothbrush in scrubbing debris such as plaque, tartar and food particles from teeth. Perhaps the most well-known toothpaste abrasive is sodium bicarbonate, or baking soda. Other abrasives include aluminum hydroxide, calcium carbonate, calcium phosphate, and silicas.
Abrasives also polish teeth so they’re shiny and smooth, but using them too roughly can actually damage teeth by stripping away enamel, which makes teeth more vulnerable to tooth decay. That’s why it’s better to use a soft-bristled toothbrush than a hard bristle one, and to brush thoroughly, not hard.
Surfactants are compounds that help toothpaste get nice and foamy. This lathering effect has a real purpose: it helps evenly distribute the abrasives and other components, such as fluoride. While your dentist and the American Dental Association recommends toothpastes with fluoride for most people, there are fluoride free varities for those with a fluoride sensitivity. Fluoride is a natural mineral that helps prevent tooth decay and can even remineralize degraded tooth enamel.
Other inactive ingredients found in toothpaste include water (which can account for nearly 40% of what’s in the tube) and chemicals to keep the paste from drying out, such as propylene glycol and glycerol. Some pastes also include anti-bacterial agents that can help eliminate the bacteria that cause gum disease. Specialized toothpastes, such as whitening or anti-sensitivity, may contain other compounds that contribute to their particular purpose.
If you’re ever feeling overwhelmed by the choices in the toothpaste aisle, feel free to talk to our dental care team about which toothpaste is right for you.