Healthy teeth and gums make it easy to eat well and enjoy good food. There are a number of problems that can affect the health of the mouth, but careful care will keep the teeth and gums strong.
Dental caries Tooth brushes and toothpaste for healthy teeth and gums
The teeth are covered by an outer hard layer called enamel. Each day, a thin layer of bacteria called dental plaque forms on the teeth. The bacteria in the dental plaque produce acids that can begin to damage the enamel. With the passage of time, acids can create holes in the enamel. These gaps are known as cavities. Brushing and flossing can protect against tooth decay, but once tooth decay is formed, a dentist has to repair the damage.
You can protect your teeth against cavities by using a fluoride toothpaste. If you have a higher risk of developing tooth decay (for example, if you have a dry mouth due to medications you take), you may need more fluoride. Your dentist or dental hygienist can treat you with fluoride during a visit to the office or the dentist may suggest that you use a fluoride gel or mouthwash at home.
Diseases of the gums
Gum disease begins when a dental plaque forms along and below the gum line. This plaque causes infections that damage the gums and bones that keep the teeth in place. Sometimes, gum disease causes the gums to become sensitive and more likely to bleed. This problem, called gingivitis, can often be solved by brushing and flossing daily.
A more severe form of gum disease, called periodontitis, needs to be treated by a dentist. If it is not treated, this infection can ruin the bones, gums, and other tissues that support the teeth. With the passage of time, you may have to remove your teeth.
To prevent gum disease:
- Brush your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste.
- Floss once a day.
- Visit your dentist on a regular basis for checking and cleaning.
- Eat a well-balanced diet.
- Stop smoking. Smoking increases the risk of developing a gum disease.
- Cleaning teeth and gums
- There is a right way to brush your teeth and floss. Everyday:
- Brush gently on all sides of the teeth with a soft bristle brush and fluoride toothpaste.
- Use small circular motions and short movements back and forth.
- Take the time to brush carefully and gently along the gum line.
- Brush your tongue lightly to help keep your mouth clean.
For people who have arthritis or other conditions that limit hand movements it can be difficult to hold and use a toothbrush. The following are some useful ideas:
- Use an electric or battery toothbrush.
- Place the rubber grip on the handlebar of a bicycle or a tube of foam material on the handle of the toothbrush.
- Buy a toothbrush with a larger handle.
- Keep the toothbrush tied to your hand using a wide elastic band?
You also need to clean the area around the teeth with dental floss every day. Careful flossing will remove dental plaque and leftover food that a toothbrush cannot reach. Be sure to rinse your mouth after flossing your teeth.
Spaces of the lower teeth.
Visit your dentist if brushing or flossing causes your gums to bleed or cause pain in your mouth. If you are having problems with flossing, a special floss holder can help you. Ask the dentist to teach you the proper way to floss.
Sometimes it is necessary to use dentures (false teeth) to replace severely damaged teeth. Partial dentures can be used to replace one or more missing teeth. Dentures may feel strange at first, and your dentist may want to see you frequently to make sure your dentures fit. Over time, the shape of the gums will change, and your denture may require an adjustment or replacement. Be sure to let the dentist make the adjustments.
When learning to eat with dentures, it may be easier for you if:
- Start with soft, non-sticky foods.
- Cut your food into small pieces.
- Chew slowly using both sides of the mouth.
Be careful when you have dentures on because it may be harder for you to feel foods and drinks that are too hot or for bones to feel in your mouth.
Keep your dentures clean and free of foods that cause stains, bad breath or inflamed gums. Brush your dentures every day with a special cleaning product. Remove dentures at night and place them in water or in a denture cleanser.
Dry mouth occurs when there is not enough saliva to keep the mouth moist. Many common medications can cause a dry mouth. That can make it hard to eat, swallow, taste and even talk. A dry mouth can cause tooth decay and other mouth infections.
There are some things that you can prove that maybe they can help you with the problem of a dry mouth. Try sipping water or other drinks without sugar. Do not smoke and avoid alcohol and caffeine. Sucking sugar-free candy or chewing gum without sugar can help. Your dentist or doctor may suggest that you use artificial saliva to keep your mouth moist or they may have other ideas about how to treat a dry mouth.
Oral cancer can develop anywhere in the mouth or throat. It is more likely to occur in people over 40 years. A dental check-up is a good opportunity for your dentist to check for signs of oral cancer. Pain is usually not an early symptom of the disease. The treatment works better before the cancer spreads. Even if you have lost all your natural teeth, you should see your dentist regularly to get oral cancer screenings.
You can reduce the risk of getting oral cancer in several ways:
- Do not use tobacco products (cigarettes, chewing tobacco, granulated tobacco, pipes or cigars).
- If you drink alcohol, consume it only in moderation.
- Use lip balm with sunscreen.