Preventing tooth decay and gum disease has multiple benefits including: systemic reduction in harmful bacteria ingestion, elimination of painful teeth and gums, aesthetic function and appearance, and reduction in costly treatments before they occur.
Periodontal (gum) disease is an infection caused by bacteria under the gum tissue that begin to destroy the gums and bone. Teeth become loose, chewing becomes difficult, and teeth may have to be extracted. Gum disease may also be related to damage elsewhere in the body; recent studies point to associations between such oral infections and diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and preterm, low-weight births. Research is underway to further examine these connections.
- Brush your teeth twice a day with ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste.
- Replace your toothbrush every three or four months or sooner if the bristles are frayed.
- Clean between teeth daily with floss or an interdental cleaner.
- Eat a balanced diet and limit between-meal snacks.
- Visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and oral exams.
Our office helps you prevent disease by providing periodic oral exams and cancer screenings, routine cleanings (prophylaxis), deep cleanings (scaling and root planning), minor gum alterations to reduce deeper gum pockets, fluoride treatments, and sealants.
Sealants are a white plastic resin that is placed into the grooves of the chewing surface of your tooth to help to prevent the formation of tooth decay (“cavities”). Sealants can wear over time and need to replaced, usually after 3 years or more depending on diet and bite force.
Dental guards are recommended treatment for patients with nocturnal or daytime teeth grinding (bruxism) habits. In addition to limiting teeth wear, night guards (NG) help to support the muscles used to chew and the jaw joint called the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). In some cases, patients with severe habits and or symptoms will need to be referred to a TMD (Temporomandibular Dysfunction) specialist, or a sleep clinic for further diagnosis and treatment.
There are two main types of night guards: soft, which is flexible and preferred by mild bruxism patients, and hard, which is not flexible and made for patients with mild to severe bruxism and misaligned teeth. Options are discussed prior to fabrication of the night guard. Both types will last from 1-5 years on average before need for replacement.
- Custom-fit: fabricated from molds taken of your teeth, delivered on a separate appointment and adjusted for optimum fit and function.
- Over-the-counter: purchased at a store or pharmacy, generally adequate to relieve grinding, not intended to relieve muscles or joint pain, fit is fair to poor, and inexpensive.
- Sleep Apnea: diagnosis of SA will preclude and limit the use of a guard. A sleep appliance should be worn during night hours in lieu of a night guard.
A dental cleaning, or prophylaxis, is a routine procedure that usually takes between 30 minutes to an hour and occurs 2 times per year. A deep cleaning, or scaling and root planing, is a procedure that could take up to 4 appointments to complete and will last an hour or more. This is a one time treatment unless recurrent disease occurs. A periodontal maintenance cleaning is scheduled after scaling and root planing for subsequent and long term routine care, usually 3 or 4 times a year.
The level of cleaning needed is determined by bacteria level, bone loss, and periodontal (gums/ bone) disease diagnosis. Most patients will fall into the prophylaxis category and see the hygienist 2 times a year or every 6 months.
Radiographs and an exam will also be a provided after routine cleanings. Dr. Bradley will advise you if any issues are found at this time.