The main enemies facing your teeth and gums are tooth decay and gum disease. These are common problems affecting people of all ages, but they are easily prevented by brushing your teeth properly and regular check-ups by your dentist. All dentists should encourage a preventative approach to dental care and your dentist at Manor Square will advise you on the best ways to look after your own teeth and avoid future dental problems.
In these difficult financial times, it may be tempting to see a check-up at the dentist as a luxury that can be dispensed with. Unfortunately, the chances are you will just be storing up problems for a later date. If you would like an easier way of budgeting for your routine dental care, you might like to consider our Manor Square Maintenance Plan or Manor Square Care Plan.
What is a ‘scale and polish’?
Your Manor Square dentist or hygienist is very likely to give your teeth a ‘scale and polish’. This is a way of thoroughly cleaning the teeth and uses a special tool to remove the hard build-up of tartar (calculus). Tartar is hardened plaque, which tends to form over time behind your teeth and just below the gum line (the bits that we often miss ourselves). Once the plaque is hardened it cannot be removed by ordinary teeth brushing, and a scale and polish is the only way to get rid of it. Afterwards, you still need to do your bit and brush properly twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste.
What is tooth decay?
Tooth decay (otherwise known as caries) is caused by bacteria that live in plaque. These bacteria feed on sugars that come from food and drink and they produce acids. The acids soften the tooth's enamel outer surface by dissolving away its minerals. The tooth's surface does repair itself once the sugar has been used up and the acid disappears, but the whole process starts again the next time something sweet is eaten or drunk and the plaque bacteria feed again on sugars – it’s an ongoing battle for the enamel of your teeth.
What is gum disease?
Gum disease is also caused by plaque. If the plaque isn't removed, it can get under the gum line and attack the gums, making them red and puffy. A sign of gum disease may be some bleeding when you brush your teeth. If left untreated, gum disease can cause serious problems. The gum may start to come away from the tooth allowing more plaque to gather and, over time, the plaque will eat away at the bone that supports the tooth. This can lead to the tooth falling out or having to be removed.
What is tooth erosion?
Tooth erosion is the wearing away of the top enamel layer of the tooth and is caused by acidic food and drink. Erosion is serious as, once the enamel has gone, it's gone forever. The main culprits for erosion are fruit juices, fruit smoothies and fizzy drinks as they contain high levels of acid.
Top tips to avoid tooth decay, tooth erosion and gum disease
- Brush your teeth twice a day using a fluoride toothpaste, making sure you pay special attention to the gum line too.
- Visit your dentist regularly – they will be able to spot gum disease early on and give you advice on how best to brush your teeth and the best way to floss.
- Avoid smoking – it makes gum disease even worse
- Try to avoid acidic fizzy drinks, opting for milk or water where possible, or minimise the damage by drinking through a straw as this directs the liquid past the teeth
- Minimise the acidic effect of healthy fruit juices or squashes by adding plenty of water to dilute the acid, and don’t swish the drink around your mouth.
How to brush your teeth properly
Brushing your teeth twice a day with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste not only helps prevent tooth decay and gum disease, it can also prevent bad breath. You need to make sure you brush all the visible surfaces of each tooth using small circular movements. Concentrate on the nooks and crannies, the surfaces at the back of your top and bottom front teeth, and don’t miss the hard-to-reach areas at the back of your mouth. You are trying to remove as much plaque as possible as well as any leftover bits of food. Remember to gently brush along the gum line as well as the teeth themselves.
If you are unsure about the correct way to brush your teeth, just ask your Manor Square dentist for advice.
What toothbrush is right for you?
A toothbrush with a small head is best as this can be moved more easily around your mouth. The bristles should be either soft or medium as you don’t want to damage your teeth by brushing too hard. Some people prefer to use an electric toothbrush, but, as long as you brush properly, there is little or no difference in the result.