Good oral hygiene helps to prevent dental problems – mainly plaque and tartar (calculus), which are the main causes of gum disease and tooth decay, or dental caries. Good oral hygiene may also help to prevent or delay dental erosion.
- Dental plaque is a soft whitish deposit that forms on the surface of teeth. It forms when germs (bacteria) combine with food and saliva. Plaque contains many types of bacteria. You can remove plaque with good oral hygiene.
- Tartar (calculus) is hardened calcified plaque. It sticks firmly to teeth. Generally, it can only be removed with special instruments by a dentist or dental hygienist.
Tooth decay (dental caries)
When holes form in parts of the enamel of a tooth, it is known as caries, or a cavity. A main cause of cavities is due to a build-up of plaque. The germs (bacteria) in the plaque react with sugars and starches in food to form acids. The acids are kept next to the teeth by the sticky plaque and dissolve the tooth enamel. If you have tooth decay you may need fillings, crowns or inlays.
Gum disease (periodontal disease)
Gum disease means infection or inflammation of the tissues that surround the teeth. Most cases of gum disease are plaque-related. Plaque contains many different types of bacteria and a build-up of some types of bacteria is associated with developing gum disease.
Depending on the severity, gum disease is generally divided into two types – gingivitis and periodontitis:
- Gingivitis means inflammation of the gums. There are various types. However, most cases of gingivitis are caused by plaque.
- Periodontitis occurs if gingivitis becomes worse and progresses to involve the tissue that joins the teeth to the gums (the periodontal membrane).
Gum disease is the most common cause of tooth loss in adults. It is also a main cause of bad breath (halitosis). However, gum disease is often treatable; though prevention through brushing and flossing are your ost effective tools to battle gum disease.
Tooth erosion is a common problem. It is the gradual erosion of tooth enamel by the action of acid on the teeth. This is different to damage caused by bacteria resulting in tooth decay and caries. Tooth erosion affects the entire surface of the tooth. In time, tooth erosion can cause thinned enamel, and eventually can expose the softer dentine underneath the enamel. Dentine is sensitive so erosion can lead to your teeth being more sensitive to hot, cold or sweet foods and drinks.
Finally, poor oral hygiene and gum disease have been linked to other health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
The doctors and staff at The Colorado Center for Implant and Prosthetic Dentistry are available to help you determine effective solutions to all of your dental problems, including total tooth replacement. If you would like more information from your Littleton area Prosthodontist, please call to make an appointment today.