Posts for: February, 2017
While your chances of losing teeth increase as you age, it's not a given. With proper hygiene and care your teeth could last a lifetime.
But brushing and flossing can become more difficult in later years. Arthritis or strength issues in the fingers and hands make holding a toothbrush an arduous chore and flossing next to impossible.
But you can accommodate these physical changes. Many seniors find using a powered toothbrush much easier to handle and effective for removing disease-causing plaque. A tennis ball or bike handle grip attached to a manual toothbrush can also make it easier to handle. As to flossing, older people may find it easier to use floss threaders or a water irrigator, which removes plaque from between teeth with a pressurized water spray.
You may also find changes in the mouth that increase your risk for dental disease. One such issue is xerostomia, dry mouth. As you age you don't produce as much saliva, which neutralizes acid and restores minerals to enamel, as when you were younger. Dry mouth can also be a side effect of certain medications. Older people are also more likely to suffer from gastric reflux, which can introduce stomach acid into the mouth.
With these dry, acidic conditions, you're more susceptible to both tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease. You can help offset it by increasing water consumption, taking a saliva stimulator, changing to alternative medications if available, and relieving gastric reflux.
Another area of concern in aging is the higher risk for inflammatory diseases like diabetes or cardiovascular diseases (CVD), which could also increase your risk of periodontal (gum) disease. Seeking treatment for gum disease and other similar systemic diseases may help ease the effects of each one.
Taking care of your mouth can be challenging as you grow older. But tooth loss and other unpleasant results aren't inevitable. Invest in your teeth and gums today and you're more likely to have a healthy life and smile all through your golden years.
If you would like more information on caring for your teeth and gums as you age, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Aging & Dental Health.”
When is the best time to floss your teeth: Morning? Bedtime? How about: whenever and wherever the moment feels right?
For Cam Newton, award-winning NFL quarterback for the Carolina Panthers, the answer is clearly the latter. During the third quarter of the 2016 season-opener between his team and the Denver Broncos, TV cameras focused on Newton as he sat on the bench. The 2015 MVP was clearly seen stretching a string of dental floss between his index fingers and taking care of some dental hygiene business… and thereby creating a minor storm on the internet.
Inappropriate? We don't think so. As dentists, we're always happy when someone comes along to remind people how important it is to floss. And when that person has a million-dollar smile like Cam Newton's — so much the better.
Of course, there has been a lot of discussion lately about flossing. News outlets have gleefully reported that there's a lack of hard evidence at present to show that flossing is effective. But we would like to point out that, as the saying goes, “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” There are a number of reasons why health care organizations like the American Dental Association (ADA) still firmly recommend daily flossing. Here are a few:
- It's well established that when plaque is allowed to build up on teeth, tooth decay and gum disease are bound to follow.
- A tooth brush does a good job of cleaning most tooth surfaces, but it can't reach into spaces between teeth.
- Cleaning between teeth (interdental cleaning) has been shown to remove plaque and food debris from these hard-to-reach spaces.
- Dental floss isn't the only method for interdental cleaning… but it is recognized by dentists as the best way, and is an excellent method for doing this at home — or anywhere else!
Whether you use dental floss or another type of interdental cleaner is up to you. But the ADA stands by its recommendations for maintaining good oral health: Brush twice a day for two minutes with fluoride toothpaste; visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and checkups; and clean between teeth once a day with an interdental cleaner like floss. It doesn't matter if you do it in your own home, or on the sidelines of an NFL game… as long as you do it!
Fillings are a staple of restorative dentistry. Most people will have developed at least one, usually more, cavities by the time they reach adulthood. Dental fillings are designed to seal a tooth after treatment for tooth decay, and to strengthen it to prevent more extensive damage in the future. Charlotte, NC, based family dentists, Dr. Susan Hockaday and Dr. Jim Baucom, strongly recommend establishing good daily oral hygiene routines at home and scheduling regular dental exams and professional cleanings as early as possible in order to develop lifelong dental health habits. But when cavities happen, dental fillings are the most effective and lasting option to repair a decayed tooth.
Tooth Decay Prevention and Treatment in Charlotte, NC
Just like the portion of a natural tooth that they replace, dental restorations are susceptible to the same type of damage - wear and tear from chewing and teeth grinding, trauma and bacteria buildup from food and poor oral hygiene. Although fillings are very durable and can last for a decade or longer with proper care, the time frame is different for everyone and they will most likely have to be upgraded and replaced at some point. Over time, fillings can start to chip and crack, making it possible for decay-causing bacteria to get into the tooth.
If left untreated, bacteria can make its way into the pulp tissue deep inside the tooth, leading to infection, inflammation and even tooth loss. Once bacteria gets into the nerve tissue in the tooth, a root canal treatment is necessary to remove damaged tissue. Even with a good daily oral hygiene routine at home, regular dentist visits for an oral exam and professional cleaning are vital in order to prevent the onset of tooth decay and gum disease or to catch it early enough to prevent further damage.
Find a Dentist in Charlotte, NC
For more information on tooth decay and gum disease prevention and treatment, contact the office of Dr. Hockaday and Dr. Baucom by calling (704) 553-2348 to schedule an appointment today.