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.
Does your oral health come second to the rest of your busy life? Perhaps you realize it's been so long since you saw the dentist, you've forgotten his name. Maybe when your coworker suggests a breath mint, she has a valid reason. Perhaps you haven't needed to replace your toothbrush every two months because it's not getting used very often, and dental floss hasn't been on your grocery list in a really long time. If any of the above apply to you, you might need to make an appointment for a "second chance" dental procedure. Yes, it's true: even after a season of dental neglect, there is hope for your teeth and gums.
You probably never realized how intensive and unrelenting the war against your teeth is. With every meal, the saliva in your mouth mixes with food debris and forms a sticky film that coats your teeth. Brushing right after eating would eliminate this. However, when this film remains on your teeth for any length of time, the bacteria within it begin to erode the enamel covering your teeth. Bacteria also eat away at your gum tissue. Over time, cavities form and gingivitis develops. Without intervention, you may experience inflammation of the tissues in your mouth as well as infection and bone loss. You may even end up losing teeth, either from decay or from the inability of the jawbone to support them any longer.
Even if you haven't seen a dentist in years and are experiencing gingivitis and toothaches, there is still hope for your oral health. A procedure called scaling and root planing is aimed at helping people in your condition to get a "fresh start" for their teeth and gums. It is an intensive cleaning process that cleans your teeth underneath the gums, all the way to the roots. Here's how it works.
Your dentist will likely numb your mouth because the procedure can be painful.
The first part of the process, scaling, involves scraping away tartar (hardened plaque) from the surface of your teeth both above and below the gum line. The dentist will first use an ultrasonic instrument that breaks apart large tartar deposits, followed by conventional devices to manually scrape away remaining material.
The second part of the procedure, root planing, is the smoothing out of uneven surfaces on your gums and the roots of your teeth. These surfaces develop "pockets" where bacteria hide and fester.
Your dentist may place antibiotics into the spaces between your teeth and gums to prevent infection.
Scaling and root planing is often done in two visits, with the dentist working on one-half of your mouth at a time. You can expect to feel discomfort after the procedure and to experience sensitivity to hot and cold foods and liquids for a few days.
While scaling and root planing cannot remove consequences of oral neglect such as cavities or bone loss, it can give you a second chance at optimal dental health. Removing plaque buildup and smoothing out pockets that have been harboring bacteria are critical to preventing periodontitis (severe gum disease). This procedure can also prevent the need for expensive procedures such as crowns and root canals. Lastly, it may stop bone damage in your jaw so that you won't suffer premature tooth loss and have to resort to dentures or dental implants. An intensive cleaning will halt gum disease and allow you to start over.
Once you have had scaling and root planing, it is imperative that you maintain excellent oral hygiene. Brush at least twice daily, floss often, and see your dentist for cleanings and exams twice a year. If your oral health has been taking second place, make the most of your second chance! The best place to start is with finding a dentist in your area.