Posts for: February, 2016
You may think an office cleaning is mainly cosmetic — giving your teeth that polished look and you that pleasant, “squeaky clean” feeling. But your dental hygienist is doing more than making your teeth look great during your cleaning session — they’re also providing a valuable service keeping your teeth and gums healthy.
Here, then, are 3 things your dental hygienist is doing during a cleaning session that protects your health.
Removing disease-causing plaque. An office cleaning produces more than a fresh and clean smile. Your hygienist is manually removing plaque and calculus (hardened plaque deposits) in hard to reach places or where it has built up despite your best efforts at brushing and flossing. This built-up plaque is a ready source of bacteria producing acids, which give rise to both tooth decay and gum disease. And for actual occurrences of the latter, plaque removal is an important part of the treatment to restore your gums to a healthy pink.
Checking for signs of dental disease. As your hygienist cleans your teeth, they’re also looking for abnormalities in the mouth’s soft tissue — lumps, bumps, sores, or swelling — that may indicate something more serious requiring further examination. They’re also assessing your overall gum health, probing any areas that might indicate gum disease. And, of course, they’re looking for cavities, softened enamel or other signs of tooth decay.
Helping you improve your oral hygiene.Â As proficient as they are, a dental hygienist can only do so much to help prevent dental disease; the rest — daily brushing and flossing — is on your shoulders. But you’re not completely on your own, because your hygienist is your best personal hygiene training partner: not only can they assess how well you’re doing in your daily regimen, but they can also give you expert advice and tips on improving your brushing and flossing performance.
If you would like more information on the role of your hygienist in your dental care, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Dental Hygiene Visit.”
According to the US Department of Health, a whopping 91% of adults have cavities. This statistic shows that many people put off dental appointments for various reasons. Are you aware of the dangers of untreated cavities? Arm yourself with this knowledge to fight cavities with help from your Waunakee, WI dentists Dr. Matthew Karls and Stanley Karls at Karls Family Dentistry.
The Dangers of Cavities
The pain of a toothache is not the only complication of a cavity. An abscess, which causes a large, pus-filled sac in the gum tissue, can quickly lead to infection. Decay weakens teeth, causing them to crack and break. This, in turn, causes bite alignment problems and issues eating and chewing. Severe pain caused by a cavity has the potential to hinder your everyday life, keeping you home from school or work. If eating is heavily affected due to broken teeth or pain, nutritional problems take place. Many patients also complain of self-esteem issues and loss of confidence.
Who is at risk for cavities?
Though some people are more at risk for cavities than others, a huge factor in oral health is simply brushing and flossing your teeth twice daily. Along with your daily routine, a biannual dental screening and cleaning can prevent cavities from forming in the first place. Certain sugary food and drinks contribute to cavity formation. Age, general wear and tear and eating disorders also put a person at risk for cavities.
How are cavities treated?
Treating cavities in their early stages is a fairly quick and easy procedure known as a filling. Your Waunakee dentists use a dental drill to remove the decay from the tooth. A composite resin material fills in the tooth and your dentist forms the tooth into the correct shape for your bite. However, if left untreated, cavity treatment becomes much more complex. You feel a toothache once the decay reaches the pulp and nerve of the tooth. If the decay has gotten this far, root canal therapy is normally the preferred treatment. This procedure removes the pulp and nerve of the tooth, cleans out any infection present and restores the tooth’s functionality. A root canal also saves the tooth from extraction. In severe cases, extraction is the only way to treat the cavity.
For more information on cavities, please contact Dr. Stanley Karls, DDS & Dr. Matthew Karls, DDS at Karls Family Dentistry in Waunakee, WI. Call (608) 849-4100 for more information.
Fans of the primetime TV show The Middle were delighted to see that high school senior Sue, played by Eden Sher, finally got her braces off at the start of Season 6. But since this popular sitcom wouldn’t be complete without some slapstick comedy, this happy event is not without its trials and tribulations: The episode ends with Sue’s whole family diving into a dumpster in search of the teen’s lost retainer. Sue finds it in the garbage and immediately pops it in her mouth. But wait — it doesn’t fit, it’s not even hers!
If you think this scenario is far-fetched, guess again. OK, maybe the part about Sue not washing the retainer upon reclaiming it was just a gag (literally and figuratively), but lost retainers are all too common. Unfortunately, they’re also expensive to replace — so they need to be handled with care. What’s the best way to do that? Retainers should be brushed daily with a soft toothbrush and liquid soap (dish soap works well), and then placed immediately back in your mouth or into the case that came with the retainer. When you are eating a meal at a restaurant, do not wrap your retainer in a napkin and leave it on the table — this is a great way to lose it! Instead, take the case with you, and keep the retainer in it while you’re eating. When you get home, brush your teeth and then put the retainer back in your mouth.
If you do lose your retainer though, let us know right away. Retention is the last step of your orthodontic treatment, and it’s extremely important. You’ve worked hard to get a beautiful smile, and no one wants to see that effort wasted. Yet if you neglect to wear your retainer as instructed, your teeth are likely to shift out of position. Why does this happen?
As you’ve seen firsthand, teeth aren’t rigidly fixed in the jaw — they can be moved in response to light and continuous force. That’s what orthodontic appliances do: apply the right amount of force in a carefully controlled manner. But there are other forces at work on your teeth that can move them in less predictable ways. For example, normal biting and chewing can, over time, cause your teeth to shift position. To get teeth to stay where they’ve been moved orthodontically, new bone needs to form around them and anchor them where they are. That will happen over time, but only if they are held in place with a retainer. That’s why it is so important to wear yours as directed — and notify us immediately if it gets lost.
And if ever you do have to dig your retainer out of a dumpster… be sure to wash it before putting in in your mouth!
If you would like more information on retainers, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “The Importance of Orthodontic Retainers” and “Why Orthodontic Retainers?”