I am proud to say that I have all my own teeth at the age of 65. While that may not sound unusual to some people, everyone in my family who is my age or older wears dentures. I always tell people that that flossing is the key to good dental health. I have arthritis in my hands, but I don't let it keep me from flossing every day. My trick is to use those little "flossers" you can buy at the drug store. They have plastic handles floss stretched out on top of the handle. These make flossing easier on days when my arthritis is acting up. I started this blog to let other people know that they can keep their teeth healthy into old age when they take care of them. If you have hand pain, find ways to make flossing easier, like I did.
The outer layer of your teeth, the enamel, is mostly made of minerals. About 96% of tooth enamel is made of minerals, with calcium being the major mineral. Pores in the enamel allow more minerals to join your enamel, keeping your teeth strong throughout your life, but these same pores can also allow minerals to escape. Demineralization is very noticeable among people who have worn braces. Here's what you need to know.
What does demineralization look like?
Demineralization removes minerals from your tooth enamel, and makes your enamel look white and frosty. Among people without braces, this demineralization isn't too obvious since it affects the whole tooth, but it's very obvious among people who have had braces. If you have braces, the demineralization affects the exposed parts of your enamel, but not the enamel that's underneath the braces. When you get your braces taken off, you'll see visible squares on the teeth where your brackets used to be.
Do braces cause demineralization?
Braces don't cause demineralization, acids inside your mouth do. These acids come from the foods and drinks you consume or from the bacteria that lives in dental plaque. Brushing and flossing regularly removes these acids and keeps your enamel from being broken down, but it's harder to keep your teeth clean when you have braces. Brushing around the brackets is challenging, as is manoeuvering floss beneath the wires that connect your brackets. This allows acids to sit on your teeth in these hard to reach places, and slowly break down your enamel.
How can you avoid demineralization?
To avoid discovering unsightly squares on your teeth when you get your braces off, you need to pay a lot of attention to good oral hygiene. When you brush, take care to brush around all sides of the brackets by angling your toothbrush towards the brackets. Dentists recommend brushing your teeth more frequently when you have braces: three times a day instead of just two.
Daily flossing is very important as well. You won't be able to use normal flossing technique when you have braces because of the wires, but that doesn't mean that you can't floss. Use a floss threader to work the floss underneath the wires, and then floss between your teeth.
Does demineralization really matter?
Demineralization isn't just a cosmetic problem. It's the first stage of tooth decay, so if you don't change your oral hygiene routine, you could develop cavities in those areas. Cavities are a much bigger problem than discolored enamel, and can lead to problems such as sensitive teeth or even tooth loss.
Can demineralization be fixed?
If you still end up with visible demineralization on your teeth once your orthodontic treatment is done, there are many ways that they can be treated. In mild cases, your dentist may be able to encourage remineralization of the tooth. This can be done with fluoride or calcium pastes.
In more serious cases where too much of your enamel's minerals have been lost, your dentist will need to cover up the damage to protect your tooth from decay. This can be done with composite filling, a type of dental glue that is painted onto the trouble spots. Very serious demineralization can be covered with veneers, tooth-colored sleeves that are permanently attached to the outsides of your teeth.
Demineralization is an issue for everyone, but it's more obvious among people who have had braces. If you have braces, you need to keep your teeth very clean, and see your dentist regularly for professional cleanings. If you aren't careful, you'll see visible demineralization on your teeth when you get your braces off. For more information on keeping your teeth at the best, look at sites like http://www.dentistryoffayetteville.com.