Good oral hygiene is essential for the prevention of dental disease. Routine care such as brushing, flossing, and bi-annual dental cleanings can help maintain good oral health and protect against the spread of dental pathology such as tooth decay and gum disease.
At Schweitzer & Schweitzer, PC, our dentists take patient education seriously, and instruct each patient on the importance of maintaining good oral health. One of the most basic components of proper dental hygiene is brushing twice daily to clean the teeth and gums. While proper brushing is easy, it may not be as simple as you think. Here are some tips our dentists recommend to help ensure you are thoroughly cleaning your teeth and gums:
- Select a soft-bristled toothbrush designed to protect the teeth and gums from unnecessary abrasion. Bristles made from nylon and with rounded ends can also help reduce irritation.
- Do not use large amounts of toothpaste on the brush, as the volume of lather may give the illusion that you are cleaning when the teeth and gums have not been properly cleaned. A pea-sized amount of toothpaste is typically adequate.
- Avoid using excessive force when brushing.
- By angling the toothbrush bristles at a 45-degree angle at the gum line, you can clean the teeth and gums simultaneously.
- Brush one area of the outer surfaces of the teeth and systematically move on to the next until you have completely cleaned the upper and lower rows. Afterward, repeat the process on the inside surfaces of the teeth as well as the biting surfaces.
- To clean the back surfaces of the front teeth, angle the toothbrush vertically and brush up and down.
- Finally, remember to brush the tongue starting at the back and ending at the front to remove bacteria.
Our dentists recommend that you brush your teeth for at least two minutes to thoroughly clean the teeth. Some electric toothbrushes help patients clean more completely and keep track of time. Toothbrushes or toothbrush heads should be replaced about 3-4 months for sanitary reasons. To learn more about proper brushing techniques, please contact us and ask to speak with one of our dental hygienists or prosthodontists.
Daily flossing is an essential part of your daily oral hygiene regimen. Flossing effectively removes plaque from in between your teeth. There are many different types of floss on the market, but usually waxed is the best.
- Take 18″ of floss and, if you are right handed, wrap it around the middle finger of your left hand and the index finger of your right hand. Leave two inches between your hands. If you are left handed do the opposite.
- Slide the floss between your teeth and wrap it in a “C” shape around the base of the tooth and then gently slide it under the gum line.
- Wipe the tooth 3-4 times from the base to tip. Make sure you floss both sides of every tooth.
- Brush after you floss.
If you have any questions about proper flossing technique, don’t hesitate to ask one of our hygienists or doctors.
Comprehensive Oral Exams
A routine oral exam is the most effective way to evaluate your oral health and identify any irregularities at the earliest stage possible. Our dentist will take a good look at your teeth and gums to locate any evidence of decay, periodontal disease, or other concerns that may get worse if left untreated. Then, our doctor will talk with you about the state of your oral health and answer any questions you may have. For many individuals, a minimum of two oral exams is recommended each year; however, we may advise even more regular check-ups for some patients, depending on their unique needs. Our dental team utilizes advanced diagnostic technologies to provide thorough and comprehensive oral examinations that can detect potential problems before they become more severe.
Dental cleaning or prophylaxis is the first line of defense against dental disease. It is a procedure designed to preserve health and prevent the spread of dental pathology such as periodontal disease and decay. This procedure includes tooth scaling, ultrasonic and polishing procedures to remove coronal plaque, calculus and stain that can potentially afflict your dentition. It is done on a regular recall schedule, along with a periodic exam by your doctor, every 3 to 6 months to ensure your dental health. Frequency of dental cleanings is decided on by your doctor and hygienist to maximize your dental health.
Dental X-rays, also known as radiographs, are a critical and indispensable tool for your doctor to properly assess the condition of your mouth. Dental radiographs can aid in the diagnosis of pathologies such as decay, infectious abscesses, cysts or oral cancers, or bone loss due to periodontal disease. Additionally, radiographs are important for detecting impacted or supernumerary teeth and can help determine the condition of existing amalgam or composite fillings, inlays and onlays, crowns, bridges, and root canals. Radiographs are also necessary in determining whether there is sufficient volume of bone for the surgical placement of dental implants.
The frequency of how often radiographs should be taken will be decided on by your doctor according to your individual health needs. If you are a new patient, your doctor will likely recommend radiographs be taken to properly determine the present health status of your mouth and to serve as a potential baseline for future diagnoses. On the average, a 4 film bite-wing series of radiographs is taken every 18 – 24 months and an 18 film full-mouth series about every 3 – 4 years. Larger single Panoramic radiographs and/or Computed Tomography Imaging (CT Scans) are taken for special diagnostic situations or frequently for dental implant surgery.
Our office uses only digital radiographic imaging. Studies have indicated that digital radiographs produce diagnostic images equal or better than that of conventional radiographs. Furthermore, according to a study cited by the American Dental Association, the yearly average radiation exposure in the U.S. from natural sources is 20x that of a conventional full mouth series of radiographs. When a digital system is used there is approximately a 65-70% reduction in the amount of radiation needed for diagnostic quality radiographs. Also, digital radiographs also allow for instantaneous imaging, greatly reducing procedure time. If you have any question regarding radiographs don’t hesitate to ask one of our doctors or hygienists.
On January 25th, 1945, Grand Rapids, Michigan became the first city in the world to include therapeutic fluoridation in its public water supply. Since then water fluoridation in order to prevent tooth decay has been hailed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century. Fluoridation of a community is simply an adjustment of the naturally occurring fluoride levels in the water supply to an ideal concentration to prevent dental decay (0.7-1.2 parts per million). According to the ADA, fluoridation can reduce the decay rate in teeth by 20-40%. Our doctors and hygienists can administer fluoride treatment in the office or prescribe fluoride for home use if necessary. There are many studies in scientific journals supporting the use of fluoride to prevent decay. Careful control of fluoride levels is essential, however, as large doses can cause a condition called Fluorosis- a mineralization disorder which can discolor and potentially create porosities in teeth.
Weakening of a tooth’s surface through demineralization occurs when bacteria found in plaque produce acids that attack enamel. Minerals such as fluoride, calcium and phosphate can be redeposited, through remineralization, into the enamel layer from the foods and waters consumed. If too much demineralization occurs without sufficient remineralization to repair the enamel layer, the tooth can begin to decay. Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay by making the tooth more resistant to acid attack by reinforcing the remineralization process.
Even though New York City and most of the surrounding areas have closely regulated, fluoridated water supplies, there are areas of Long Island, New Jersey, and Connecticut that do not. In order to check whether your home is receiving fluoridated water you can call your local water supply company, or check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention online.
Oral Cancer Screenings
Our practice can conduct an oral cancer screening during a routine dental check-up to help identify any potential concerns. Oral cancer is a life-threatening health risk and early detection and treatment is absolutely vital to reduce that risk. Since oral cancer may not display symptoms that are very noticeable in its early stages, routine screenings are extremely important. It is also recommended that individuals immediately set up an evaluation if any oral irregularities are noticed while conducting self-examinations.
Learn more about signs and symptoms of oral cancer.
Dental plaque is a sticky, yellow-whitish, substance, composed of many potentially pathogenic bacteria and food debris, which collects around and between teeth. It must be mechanically removed either by brushing, flossing, or dental cleaning. It is a primary etiological factor of decay, gingivitis, and periodontal disease.
Also known as calculus, tartar is formed by the deposition of calcium and phosphate salts in bacterial plaque. These salts are naturally present in saliva. Plaque mineralization can begin within 24-72 hours and takes approximately 2 weeks to mature. Calculus contributes to dental disease by providing a porous foci for further plaque accumulation. Calculus is not the causative agent in dental disease, plaque is. Calculus is only effectively removed by dental cleanings.