Preventative Dental Care and Dentist Check Ups
Our dentist office specializes in helping our clients in the Gorham and Porland Maine area prevent tooth decay. Tooth decay is a process in which a tooth is gradually eaten away by acids produced by bacteria in the plaque on your teeth. These bacteria thrive when they are left on the teeth undisturbed (by brush and floss) and fed what they like to eat (sugar, refined carbohydrates). When they are thriving is when they produce the acid.
Plaque can be removed by a toothbrush and dental floss. That is the good news. The bad news is, you remove it today, and it comes back tomorrow. Which is why you are always instructed to make a habit of brushing and flossing.
Regular dental examinations and cleanings are also essential for keeping teeth healthy, because even brushing and flossing will still miss crucial areas of your teeth where bacteria will stick to the tooth and cause gum disease.
Another key to good oral health is fluoride, a mineral that helps prevent tooth decay by hardening tooth enamel to make it more resistant to decay and by disrupting growth of bacteria.
You can get fluoride in 2 ways: topical and systemic fluorides.
Topical Fluoride –
This is applied directly to your teeth. It includes toothpastes and mouth rinses, as well as fluoride treatments in the dental office.
This is fluoride that is swallowed. It includes fluoridated water and dietary fluoride supplements. Dietary supplements are recommended when the water supply is not fluoridated and is by prescription.
The maximum reduction in dental decay is achieved when fluoride is taken both topically and systemically. Both children and adults can benefit from topical fluoride treatments in the dental office. If you are prone to cavities this can be an added defense to lower your risk of decay.
Factors that may increase the risk are as follows:
- Poor oral hygiene
- Frequent or habitual use of carbonated, sweetened soft drinks. The combination of sugar and carbination is perhaps the fastest way to form cavities. The addition of caffeine to some of these beverages creates an addiction that causes you to want them more often.
- Frequent or habitual use of any beverage containing sugar. Even a small amount of sugar in a beverage you drink frequently can be a big factor in forming cavities
- Frequent or habitual use of chewing gum containing sugar
- Eating disorders
- Lack of regular professional dental care
- Active orthodontic treatment (braces) combined with poor oral hygiene
- High levels of decay-causing bacteria in the mouth
- Exposed root surfaces
- Decreased salivary flow, resulting in dry mouth
- Poor diet; diet high in sugar
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- High number of existing fillings
- Tooth enamel defects
- Head and/or neck radiation treatments
Professional Fluoride Treatment
If you or a family member is at a moderate to high risk of developing cavities, a professional fluoride treatment can help. The fluoride preparation used in the dental office is much stronger in concentration than is available in over the counter toothpastes or mouth rinses, although these are beneficial and recommended by your South Portland, ME Dentist.
Professional fluoride treatments generally take just a minute or so and may be in the form of a solution, gel, or varnish. Currently, varnish is the preferred method of application since it stays on the teeth longer than other forms of fluoride.
After the treatment, you may not eat or drink for 30 minutes, which allows for the maximum amount of fluoride absorption into your teeth.
Depending on your oral health status, fluoride treatments may be recommended every three, six or 12 months. We may recommend other preventive measures if you are at a moderate or high risk of developing decay. We will discuss this more with you at the office.
To learn more or to schedule your professional fluoride treatment, contact our dental office at (207) 839-2655.