You no doubt feel you do a pretty good job of brushing and flossing. But have you recently had an expert like your dentist or dental hygienist check the results? It isn’t enough that you may have had no cavities for a long while. Even if you are cleaning your teeth exactly like you should (and it may be harder than you realize), as we age and have busy lives, it is all too easy to fall a little short, allowing periodontal infection to gain a hold in the gums and then the jaw.
The problem starts with not scraping off the remainders of food 100%. That results in a sticky clear film developing from the bacteria on the remainder, called plaque. This hardens into yellow tartar and the process begins that can separate a tooth from the gums that support it in place. If not stopped immediately by your dental team, this can lead to the tooth either falling out or needing to be extracted. Once a tooth is missing, the others near it will naturally lean towards the gap, resulting in their also becoming loose. If the process continues, it could lead to requiring many dental implants or dentures.
The way to avoid this happening is to see your dentist at least twice a year for a checkup and a professional cleaning. This starts with a probe to see whether the areas around each tooth are healthy. Anything that measures 4 or higher means it needs special attention and even if you have been attentive to your oral health, you may be surprised at how many problem areas there are.
The hygienist will scrape off any tartar and plaque, thoroughly floss below the gum line around all teeth, and may recommend an antimicrobial solution, gel, or pellets be applied where there is trouble. If there is concern that an infection may have reached the jawbone, a digital x-ray (with very low radiation) will be ordered to find out.
While you are in the chair, ask the hygienist to show you exactly how to brush and floss. Brushing with a soft bristle brush should be done after breakfast and dinner for two minutes each time. The stroke should be from the gum line towards the opening of the mouth on both outside and inside surfaces, then on the tops of the molars at the back. Flossing after dinner should start below the gum line and firmly scrape both sides between teeth. If bleeding occurs, it means some infection has started. You will be advised when to come back to check your progress.
Good oral health also lowers your risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer, so make an appointment for a professional cleaning today.