PATIENT DENTAL EDUCATION

"An informed patient is the best patient... calm, comfortable, and confident."

A well-educated patient is a willing partner in his or her dental care. Good dental health begins with good oral hygiene, which relies on a partnership between dentist, dental hygienist and patient. Regular professional dental care paired with a recommended home care routine will enable you to maintain healthy teeth and gums. To keep your teeth healthy and strong, it is imperative for you to understand exactly what you're accomplishing in your home hygiene protocol.

Click on the topics below to learn more about oral hygiene, decay and disease.

Topics

  1. Oral Hygiene - how to properly care for your teeth daily
  2. The Regular Dental Visit - what to expect during a routine dental exam
  3. Recurrent Appointments - why regular dental exams are important
  4. Tooth Decay - causes of tooth decay and how to prevent it
  5. About Plaque - the difference between plaque and tartar
  6. Sensitive Teeth - causes and treatments
  7. Dental Care Q&A - frequently asked questions
  8. Overcome Fearfulness - a kinder, gentler dental experience

Oral Hygiene

Proper brushing and flossing techniques help minimize the risk of tooth decay and gum disease, the latter of which is the major cause of tooth loss. Be sure to follow any special home-care instructions provided by your dental professional. In general, the following steps will help to ensure proper technique and optimal results.

Brushing:

Flossing:

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The Regular Dental Visit

At every regularly scheduled dental appointment-usually every six months-your dentist thoroughly examines your teeth, gums, mouth and throat. This visit includes the following:

Head & Neck Examination

Clinical Dental Examination

Dental Cleaning (Prophylaxis)

After completing the dental examination, your dentist may outline a detailed treatment plan, if necessary, and indicate when you should return for a follow-up visit. Regular preventive maintenance, along with a thorough home-care regimen, is vital to maintaining good oral health.

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Recurrent Dental Appointments

If you've just had a perfect dental exam, why should you schedule another appointment so soon? The bottom line is that regular dental visits are absolutely essential to maintaining healthy teeth and gums. For maximum benefit, a good home care regimen must be supplemented with an oral examination and prophylaxis at least every six months. Depending on the status of your oral health, your dentist may recommend more frequent visits.

Who doesn't remember as a child sitting in the dental chair, mouth open wide, fingers crossed, and eyes closed, thinking to yourself, "No cavities, no cavities, no cavities!" in an effort to will away any sneaky little spots of decay? Although many patients believe that checking for tooth decay is the primary reason for dental exams, it is, in fact, only a small part of a thorough oral exam. During each examination, your dentist also probes your gums to assess inflammation, tooth mobility, and periodontal pockets; examines your mouth for indications of cancer, diabetes, and vitamin deficiencies; and notes any irregularities in your facial structure, bite, saliva and temporomandibular joint (TMJ). Your dentist or hygienist also will clean your teeth, answer any questions you may have, and encourage you to maintain good oral hygiene, providing instruction as needed.

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Tooth Decay

Made up of countless closely packed mineral rods, tooth enamel is very hard. When you eat, acid forms on the outside of the tooth and seeps into the enamel's rods. This demineralization process can create a weak spot in the tooth's surface. If left unchecked, the enamel can decay and a cavity can form.

Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay by slowing the breakdown of enamel and speeding up the natural remineralization process. These microscopic views of a tooth's chewing surface illustrate how fluoride works:

Common sources of fluoride include fluoridated water, toothpastes, and mouth rinses. If your drinking water is not fluoridated, your dentist may recommend that you take fluoride supplements in the form of high-concentration fluoride gels, mouth rinses, drops or tablets.

Progression of Tooth Decay

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About Plaque

Patients often confuse plaque and tartar and how they are related to each other. Plaque is a bacterial by-product of acid and saliva; it manifests itself as a sticky film that is constantly forming on the surfaces of your teeth. Plaque buildup along the gumline, between teeth, and in hard-to-reach areas is a primary factor in gum disease. Because plaque is constantly forming on teeth, even after brushing, it is vital that you brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss daily.

Plaque that is not removed through regular brushing and flossing can harden into unsightly tartar (also called calculus). Tartar is a crusty deposit that can only be removed by a dentist or hygienist. To minimize tartar formation, be sure that you brush your teeth with tartar-prevention toothpaste at least twice a day, floss every day, and have your teeth professionally cleaned on a schedule recommended by your dentist.

Individuals vary greatly in their susceptibility to plaque and tartar. For many of us, these deposits build up faster as we age. Fighting plaque and tartar is a life-long component of oral care.

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Sensitive Teeth

If you occasionally experience a sudden flash of pain or a mild tingling when you bite into sweet or sour foods or drink hot or cold beverages, you may have sensitive teeth. The pain associated with sensitive teeth is not always constant; it can come and go. (Constant pain could be a sign of a more serious problem.) It is still important, however, to discuss your symptoms with your dentist so that he or she can determine the cause and prescribe the proper treatment.

What Causes Sensitive Teeth?

In healthy teeth, porous tissue called dentin is protected by your gums and the hard enamel shell of your teeth. When this protection is lost, microscopic holes in the dentin-called tubules-allow heat, cold and other irritants to be transmitted back to the tooth nerve, thereby triggering pain.

Dentin can become exposed by:

Depending on the diagnosis, your dentist may recommend one or more of the following treatments to relieve the symptoms of sensitive teeth:

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Dental Care Q&A

Why do I need to have my teeth professionally cleaned?

Dental prophylaxis (professional cleaning) removes plaque, tartar (calculus), and stains from your teeth. This procedure can only be performed by a dentist or a dental hygienist. A hygienist is a licensed dental professional whose job is to perform prophylaxis and to provide education in the proper care of teeth and gums.

What is plaque?

Plaque is a sticky film that is constantly forming on all surfaces of your teeth. Composed of bacteria, bacterial by-products and salvia, plaque can build up along the gumline, between teeth and in other hard-to-reach areas to form tartar, which can only be removed through a professional cleaning. Plaque bacteria use sugar and other carbohydrates to grow and form acids attacking the enamel to cause cavities. These bacteria produce toxins that can irritate the gums, causing them to turn red, swell and bleed-the signs typically associated with gingivitis (gum disease). Although gingivitis IS reversible, if ignored or left untreated, it can progress to a more advanced stage of gum disease called periodontitis. We cannot say this enough: Brushing and flossing your teeth-or cleaning with another type of interdental cleaner-to remove plaque is essential in the fight for healthy teeth and gums.

What is tartar (calculus)?

Minerals in saliva combine with plaque at the tooth surface and harden into rough, unsightly deposits called tartar (calculus). Made up primarily of minerals, tartar creates a rough surface that makes thorough plaque removal exceptionally difficult. In fact, your toothbrush and floss cannot remove tartar once it has formed; tartar can only be removed through a professional dental cleaning (prophylaxis).

How can I get the most out of my home-care regimen?

The most effective way to maximize your efforts to improve and maintain good oral hygiene is to make plaque and tartar control part of your daily routine. Proper brushing helps remove plaque from the outer, inner and chewing surfaces of your teeth. In addition to proper brushing, thorough flossing helps remove plaque and debris from between the teeth, especially in the hard-to-reach areas at and slightly under the gumline. The proper techniques for brushing and flossing are outlined in the following section.

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Overcome Fearfulness

Look great and feel great with dentistry

Are you one of the many people who had a negative experience as a child? Have you heard horror stories form your co-workers or family members? Whatever the case may be, we see patients every day who haven't been to the dentist in many years due to their fears and anxiety.
As many as 145 million North Americans avoid dental visits...but that's changing.
According to the American Dental Association, there's been a relative decline in dental fear compared to an increase in people's general anxiety levels. The dental office has become a kinder, gentler, place. We genuinely care. Our dental team is trained to help put people at ease with:

We welcome you to schedule a FREE dental consultation. We'll be happy to share our practice philosophy and to explain how we can make dentistry less anxious and more manageable for you. An informed patient is the best patient... calm, comfortable, and confident.

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Dr. Birim Boyer practicing