Dental hygiene is a major part of overall health. Many times, general health issues will show up, or manifest themselves in the mouth first or in addition to elsewhere in the body. For example, a common issue with diabetics, we often see red and puffy gums and frequent cavities, along with loose teeth when doing their oral exams. Certain medications or health conditions can contribute to poor oral hygiene. Undergoing radiation or taking bone density medication can also affect dental treatment.
For many of our patients a comprehensive dental hygiene program consists of regular professional maintenance cleanings along with a thorough home care protocol. The home care regime could include, in addition to brushing, using a Waterpik-type device, flossing, rubber tips, oral antimicrobial mouth rinses, using a fluoridated toothpaste, or more.
The whole point of proper oral hygiene is to prevent the balance of good and bad bacteria from causing issues in your mouth. By removing the little calcifications off your teeth that harbor bacteria or food particles, it is a good start to allowing access for your toothbrush and floss in order to maintain the area clean at home.
A prophylaxis cleaning is the medical term for the light scaling and polishing of the teeth ABOVE the gumline. The purpose is to remove stains and plaque – food and bacteria soft clumps of debris before they progress down into the gums. A deep cleaning is where we clean the “pockets” that are trapping food and bacteria below the gumline, where a simple toothbrushing often can’t clean well. This is sometimes referred to as a scaling and root planing (SPR). In many cases, it is more comfortable if we numb the area so the hygienists can perform the deeper cleaning without discomfort to the patient.
Our dental hygienists have had specialized training in both treating our patients in the office as well as offering home-care suggestions. Often, we will discuss diet and nutrition as part of our patient education. Avoiding sugary drinks is a good start to a healthy mouth.