Usually 6 monthly general check up and cleans are recommended, to remove harden plaque and tartar build ups, which cannot be removed easily with normal daily tooth brushing. Also, routine bite-wing x-rays are beneficial to observe and detect any cavities present especially in between teeth. With employing the latest advancements in dental technology, such as digital x-rays, a lower level of radiation exposure is required to obtain a sharper image for easier diagnosis.
Fissures are natural grooves in teeth that are formed on the chewing surfaces of teeth. Some fissures can be very deep and narrow, in which toothbrush bristles will not be able clean out food particles sufficiently. Fissure sealants are white or clear resin coating to seal the deep grooves, helping protect the teeth from food particles being trapped, dental plaque and acid attack. Sealants are usually placed on the molar teeth, and on occasionally premolars, when the tooth first emerges into the mouth. They gradually wear away after several years and can be reapplied if necessary.
Dental erosion is the loss of tooth enamel which may or may not involve the loss of other tooth structures as well. Erosion can be caused by multiple factors such as: some medications, acidic drinks and food and stomach acid. The first step in treatment of dental erosion is to identify the cause, and then trying to avoid or limit the exposure. Some risk factors could be: medications for long-term treatments such as asthma medications, chewing Vitamin C tablets, cough medicines and some antiseptic mouth washes. Frequent intake of acidic drinks such as soft drinks, sport drinks, energy drinks, wines, fruit juices and cordial. Dry mouth from medical conditions, gastric refluxes causing chronic regurgitation and chronic dehydration. Depending on the degree of your dental erosion, there may be a combination of treatments available to help with dental erosion. In mild cases, you may only require the application of topical cream containing the ingredient CPP-ACP. For more moderate to severe cases, treatment might include fillings, or root canal treatment and crowns and bridge.
Gum Care / Gum Infections
Periodontal disease is the inflammation and infection of the gums, which also involves the periodontal ligament and bone structure holding the tooth in the socket. Early stages of gum disease, namely gingivitis is due to poor oral hygiene which there is an accumulation of plaque and harden calculus. Advanced stages of gum disease is called periodontitis, where contributing factors such as smoking, diabetes and family genetics may be involved. Signs of periodontal disease are: red, swollen, tender, painful or bleeding gums, tums that have shrunk, persistent bad breath, abscesses between teeth and gum, fit of denture has changed, teeth becoming loose and drifting apart and gaps appearing between teeth. Generally after examination of your gums and teeth, your dentist may recommend periodontal treatment. This may include a referral to see a Periodontist specialist for moderate to advanced stages of gum disease. Treatment generally consists of removing the build-up of plaque and calculus. Scaling the tooth surface with hand instruments, replacement of fillings, and instructions to help improve your oral hygiene. Quitting smoking can help increase the chances of successful treatment. If you do not have the treatment, the risk of the gum disease may get worse leading to tooth loss. To help maintain proper oral hygiene and decrease risk of periodontal disease numerous factors need to be kept in control: excellent oral hygiene must be maintained daily, bleeding of gums be decreased or stopped, plaque and calculus on tooth must be removed routinely and enlarged gum pockets should be regularly treated.
Home Dental Care and Oral Hygiene
Cleaning teeth and gums are essential to have healthy teeth and gums. Good oral hygiene and habits include daily brushing of teeth, at least twice a day in conjunction with flossing once a day and a healthy diet.
There is no single correct way to brush teeth, however we recommend, if you are using manual toothbrush:
- Place the toothbrush at a 45 degree angle over your teeth and gums with a small amount of tooth paste.
- Using a flicking motion of your wrist to move the brush gently up and down your tooth surface. Only two or three teeth should be cleaned at a time, gradually covering the entire mouth.
- On the biting/ grinding surfaces of your teeth, move the bristles back and forth using more force than the front and back surfaces of your teeth.
- To help prevent bad breath, your tongue should also be gently brushed from back to front.
Try to avoid using horizontal scrubbing strokes on the front and back surfaces of the teeth or gums. Using the scrubbing stroke does not remove plaque effectively and can contribute to damage of the gums and teeth. This could lead to sensitivity and gum recession. Your toothbrush should be replaced when the bristles have been worn, as the spread of the tooth bristles does not clean teeth effectively.
Electric toothbrushes are effective, especially for those who have difficulty brushing due to a handicap. The electric toothbrush is good as it provides a pulsating and oscillating action and newer models now even come with a timer, to remind you to brush longer. The use of an electric toothbrush should not become a replacement for good brushing techniques though. Interdental brushes are good for chronic gum disease. It generally comes in a form of a tiny Christmas tree on a stick and wears out within a week. The use of it is similar to the action of a tooth pick, but is more effective in removing plaque and food especially in areas where there is large gaps between teeth.
Flossing is important, and should be done on a daily basis. Technique of using floss varies for each individual but the general trend is:
- Wrap a 30-45cm floss around the middle or index fingers of each hand.
- Grip the floss between the thumb and index finger of each hand, leaving 5cm between.
- Gently in a sea-saw motion, slide the floss between each tooth, and gently move up and down scraping/gliding around the and under the gum.
Avoid snapping the floss into the gums as this can cause bruising and bleeding. Usually you man notice some tenderness and bleeding of the gums. The gums may take a few weeks to get use to daily flossing, if the bleeding persists, you may need to see your dentist.
During the duration of pregnancy, there is a large range of hormonal changes in women. Gum hygiene needs particularly more attention during pregnancy as some women may become more susceptible to gum inflammation. Baby teeth begin to form during the first trimester of the pregnancy. To ensure your baby has strong and healthy teeth, it is important to increase calcium and phosphorus intake during the pregnancy. It is important to continue to see your dentist despite pregnancy and continue dental treatment and let dental problems remain unattended.