With the resumption of the school year, Macomb and Oakland County residents are settling back into a routine. The school year and its schedule tends to keep adults within a set timeframe, which helps to make us more organized and focused.
Thinking back a year ago, one of the “negatives” that researchers found in being “shut down” was in maintaining adequate hygiene routines.
In a survey commissioned by the American Association of Endodontists, over half of Americans say the Covid Pandemic and working/studying remotely led to a lax tendency when it came to caring for their oral health. The findings include:
• 31% were snacking more on sweets
• 1 in 4 said they waited until later in the morning to brush their teeth (and 21% admitted to not brushing in the morning at all)
• An admitted decrease of those who floss, with 24% flossing less frequently and 23% admitting to no longer flossing
• 43% of Millennials (ages 25 – 40) stating that working from home or attending virtual classes led to less stringent dental hygiene
Hopefully, Americans are resuming personal upkeep in oral and overall health. As a Shelby Twp dentist, I naturally have a particular interest in knowing that our patients are maintaining healthy smiles. This includes keeping smiles clean and bright, breath fresh, and minimizing the risks of periodontal (gum) disease.
There is a particular challenge when it comes to gum disease. Unlike a cavity that causes a noticeable ache or pain, the formation of gum disease
can be rather nebulous. Gum disease can actually begin without obvious warning signs.
According to the Centers For Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), almost 91 percent of aged 20 to 64 American adults had dental caries (cavities) in one study. They also reported that 96 percent had tooth decay by the age of 65. (https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/dental.htm)
Your oral health is more than just what you see when you smile in the mirror. This is why we take periodic radiographs (x-rays). Through these, we can see decay, fractures, root depths, and gum height. The goal is to catch any problems that exist or may be emerging at their earliest stages. Early treatment can save you time and expense needed for more-involved treatment that may be necessary in the future.
When problems are flagged through bite wings, we may need a more intricate view. In our Shelby Township dental office, we feature advanced imaging technology for these situations, including Panoramic and Cone Beam 3D imaging.
A “Panorex” is a jaw-to-jaw image that reveals both jaws and all teeth in one, flat image. A Cone Beam can provide a more detailed view of these areas and beyond (including muscles, joint structures, airways, etc.). With clear and concise views in a 3-dimensional format, certain issues that were more obscured can be detected.
Proper imaging enables us to make appropriate recommendations for your care. By understanding the problem and options for repair, our patients are able to make informed decisions for the treatment they feel is best.
Too, by helping our patients be “informed consumers,” we believe they are better able to be proactive in their oral health care. By implementing minor treatment at early stages, we are better capable of helping patients save treatment time and associated costs.
There is also a basic rule we hope all of our patients understand: Without healthy gums, it is impossible to have healthy teeth. If you look at the base of each tooth, you’ll see that each is snugly wrapped by gum tissues. These tissues seal out oral bacteria from penetrating below the gum line.
Although people often assume “if it doesn’t hurt, then nothing’s wrong,” swollen gums or gums that bleed when brushing are early warning signs of gum disease. Without prompt treatment, gum disease can progress from Gingivitis (early stage gum disease) to Periodontal Disease.
Gum disease is an inflammatory disease that attacks gum tissues, teeth, and the structures that support them. It is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss. As if that weren’t bad enough, research has shown that these potent bacteria are able to activate the development (or worsen the progress) of other diseases.
Past studies have shown oral bacteria from gum disease can be a contributing factor to heart disease, stroke, some cancers, diabetes, preterm babies, erectile dysfunction (ED), high blood pressure, and impotency. Studies are underway to track suspected links to Alzheimer’s disease.
What you can do to minimize your risks is to recommit yourself to a thorough oral care routine at home. And, be committed to your 6-month oral exams and cleanings to stay proactive in maintaining good oral health. Between visits, follow these tips for a healthy smile…
• Thorough Brushing: Brush at least twice a day and spend at least two minutes per brushing. When brushing, focus on the teeth in four parts (quadrants) for thorough brushing. Go over all areas in each quadrant, including the backs and tops of teeth. Use a circular motion rather than a scrubbing, back-&-forth motion.
• Use Proper Brushing Techniques: A toothbrush’s bristles are designed so the tips sweep over teeth to rough up the filmy layer of bacteria that coats teeth after 8 or so hours. When you push down on the bristles with too much force, it flays out the bristles. This means that the sides of the bristles, not the tips, are moving across teeth. If you notice that the bristles of your toothbrush are bending outward after a month or so, you’re pressing down too hard. Also, be sure to use a medium to soft bristled toothbrush. Firm bristles can wear away tooth enamel as well as tender gum tissues.
• Floss Daily: If patients could look at their used floss under a microscope, there would probably be far greater commitment to daily flossing. People who are in the habit of flossing each day find the maneuvers quick and easy. If you find flossing difficult or uncomfortable, consider purchasing an electronic flosser. Studies have shown these can be just as effective as manual flossing. Or, check out our video on flossing for some easy tips: Easy Flossing Video By Dr. Barbat
• Stay Hydrated: Support your saliva flow by keeping the mouth moist by drinking plain water throughout the day. Saliva helps to rinse away bacteria and food particles from the mouth, keeping bacteria levels more manageable.
As always, our goal is for every dental visit to be a pleasant experience. We want our Shelby Township dental office to provide patients with the best potential to enjoy the benefits of healthy, confident smiles and teeth that last a lifetime. If you’ve delayed or fallen short on your dental hygiene regiment, we are a welcoming environment and “judgement free zone!”
Also, we have a reputation for helping adults who struggle with dental fears. We offer both Oral and I.V. Sedation (“twilight sleep”) and will be happy to explain its administration and safety measures. After all, our goal is to make your visits easy and pleasant. You may even find you’re able to overcome fear or anxiety for good, as many other patients have experienced!
Call 586-739-2155 or tap here to begin with a no-cost, private consultation to discuss your needs and goals.