Although it is very important to visit your dentist for regular cleanings and check-ups, you are still responsible for caring for your mouth and teeth in between visits. You probably brush and floss your teeth regularly, but there is more to oral healthcare than simply brushing morning and night. “Your mouth is a very important part of your body, it’s where you eat and talk—so it’s important that you do all you can to keep it in great shape”, says Ultimate Dental Group of Sacramento and Elk Grove.
Periodontal care refers to the care of the gums and surrounding tissues in the mouth. Because they are close to the teeth, the health of your gums and teeth can go hand in hand. The most common form of periodontal disease (or gum disease), is gingivitis, which is caused by plaque buildup on the teeth which then causes the gums to become inflamed and infected. Although gingivitis can be reversed with proper treatment and periodontal therapy, if it is left untreated it can progress to periodontitis.
Periodontitis causes the inner layer of the gum and bone pull away from the teeth and form pockets that can collect debris and become infected. Since Periodontitis compromises the gums that support the teeth and bones, the condition can lead to the loss of teeth. In adults, gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss.
To prevent gum disease, it is of course important to not only brush your teeth twice daily, but also to floss daily. Flossing may be arduous at times, but it is truly one of the best ways to prevent plaque buildup which causes gum disease. Regular visits to the dentist can also ensure that plaque is removed properly.
In addition to keeping your teeth and gums healthy and cavity free, overall oral health can include dental and enamel care. Dental care is also very much related to your diet and other external factors. Eating foods and beverages that are high in sugar can cause cavities and other problems with your teeth. Also, foods that are acidic can break down the enamel in your teeth, causing them to become sensitive and more susceptible to damage and stains. If your dentist notices a problem with your enamel, use toothpaste for enamel strengthening and cut down on foods that are acidic, like citrus and tomatoes.
Because the mouth, gums, teeth and throat are so close together, looking for early signs of cancer is vital. Risk factors like heavy smoking and alcohol consumption are certainly attributed to most cases of oral cancer, but an astounding 25% of those who have oral cancer don’t drink or smoke. And like other cancers, when detected early, oral cancer can be treated and reversed. Your dentist will look for signs of cancer, but you should also do self-examinations periodically between visits. Look for changes in the mouth that include redness, swelling, unexplained bleeding and white patches or sores that don’t heal within two weeks.
Oral health is incredibly important and you shouldn’t rely on your dentist for all of it. After all, your dentist only sees you for thirty minutes every six months. It’s up to you to do the rest.