Most people when asked if they want to keep their teeth for their lifetime make the obvious answer: yes! They want their teeth to be strong, functional, attractive, and with no painful surprises. Your Newberg dentist, Dr. Jennifer McLeod, believes that only through prevention can you reach this goal. Prevention drives it all.
To enjoy a healthy smile for a lifetime, two things must be kept under control: Bacteria issues (cavities and gum disease) and bite force, which is termed occlusion. If both halves of the equation are under control, the goal will be reached. However, if either half gets out of control, continual dental problems can occur.
The good news is all dental disease is preventable. Our Newberg family dental care staff remains dedicated to helping our patients gain the knowledge of how to prevent future dental problems.
Recent research has found unexpected connections between a patient's oral health and his or her overall health. Research indicates that poor oral health – which includes problems like gum disease and tooth decay – dramatically increases an individual's risk of developing a range of chronic health problems, including diabetes, stroke, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer. While future studies will continue to examine these compelling connections, the evidence clearly points towards the need for better oral health.
To enjoy a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums, patients need to develop a quality daily oral hygiene routine that includes:
- Brushing at least twice a day. The American Dental Association recommends that patients brush at least two minutes once in the morning and again at night. Brushing following every time you eat is the ideal practice, but brushing for the recommended amount of time at least twice a day is critical to protecting your long-term oral health.
- Floss Every Day. A lot of oral health experts rank flossing as even more vital to your oral health than even brushing. Despite the important role the habit plays, research has shown that 40 percent of Americans fail to floss daily. Flossing removes food particles and bacteria from between your teeth and along the gum line, two areas a toothbrush just cannot reach.
- Rinsing with an antibacterial mouthwash. Newberg dentist Dr. Jennifer McLeod recommends that patients add an antibacterial mouthwash to their nightly oral hygiene routine. It's difficult to adequately clean all areas of your mouth without missing a few spots. Using an antibacterial mouthwash after brushing will help remove any bacteria that remains in your mouth after brushing.
While having a solid daily oral hygiene routine will significantly improve your oral and overall health, enjoying a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums also means scheduling regular dental exams and x-rays with your Newberg, OR dentist.
Comprehensive X-rays & Examinations at Your Newberg Dentist
Regular dental exams and cleanings rank as a fundamental part of maintaining and improving your oral health. When patients schedule periodic examinations, we catch problems in the early stage and prevent the need for costly repairs down the road. Even if you hate to go to the dentist, periodic check-ups can reduce serious problems later in life. We recommend dental checkups in infants as early as one year old and continue their practice well into your golden years.
While most patients will only need to schedule exams once every six months, patients with special medical conditions may need to receive treatment more frequently. Patients suffering from gum disease or from long-term health conditions like heart disease or diabetes may need to schedule visits more regularly. To avoid oral health complications, pregnant women may also need to schedule more frequent visits to maintain their oral health through the term.
Dental Hygiene / Cleaning
Plaque - a sticky mix of bacteria and food particles - clings to the surface of your teeth. Plaque uses the foods we consume to produce corrosive acids that slowly deteriorate the the hard outer layer of your teeth known as enamel. Over time, plaque can attacks can wear holes in the surface of your teeth that will continue to grow until a cavity is formed. If allowed to build up, plaque will harden into tartar, a yellowish substance that discolors tooth enamel and increases your risk of gum disease.
The build up of tarter on your teeth is a part of life. Having a hygienist clean and remove tartar and/or stains from the teeth helps promote healthier gums. Tartar can only be removed from the surface of your teeth during a professional teeth cleaning. Our gentle dental hygienists will remove tartar deposits from the surface of your teeth so you can enjoy a brighter, healthier smile for years to come.
Many of the cavities that occur during childhood start in tiny grooves located on the teeth’s chewing surfaces. The average toothbrush cannot always successfully clean these grooves properly, resulting in the development of cavities. Dental sealants prevent cavities on the chewing surface by bonding a thin layer of durable resin to the grooves, literally "sealing" teeth away from the harmful effects of plaque and tartar.
Sealants make an ideal choice for protecting the oral health of younger patients who don't yet possess the manual dexterity or attention to detail necessary to properly clean their teeth every night while brushing. Dental sealants are completely safe for use on both children and adults and can be applied in just one appointment with Newberg dentist Dr. Jennifer McLeod. Dental sealants are resilient enough to last several years before a reapplication is needed.
Fluoride strengthens the tooth by adding fluoride atoms to the crystal structure of the enamel. Enamel is more resistant to the breakdown from bacteria that cause cavities. Fluoride replaces those minerals in the tooth structure lost by decay, reversing the cavity process. Lastly, fluoride helps inhibit cavity-causing bacteria.
Dr. McLeod may recommend fluoride treatments to patients who:
- Suffer from medical conditions that cause dry mouth or take prescription medications that cause dry mouth. A steady flow of saliva allows the body to wash away harmful bacteria and food from the mouth. Patients who suffer from low saliva flow have a higher risk of developing tooth decay and gum disease. .
- Suffer from receding gums. The delicate base of your teeth become exposed to harmful oral bacteria when your gums pull away from the base of your teeth.
- Wear braces. If not properly cleaned, food can become trapped on orthodontic equipment after eating. A buildup of food increases the risk of tooth decay.
Gum Disease Treatment
Periodontitis, an advanced form of gum disease, impacts the lives of over half of all Americans 30 and older, according to a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Periodontitis increases the risk of a variety of serious oral health problems and ranks as the leading cause of permanent tooth loss. Fortunately, patients suffering from periodontist have a variety of treatment options available that can help prevent tooth loss and restore their gums back to health.
The first step in treating periodontitis is a nonsurgical treatment called scaling and root planning. Dr. McLeod performs this treatment by scraping and removing any plaque and tartar that has built upon the surface of a patient's teeth and from the root surface by scaling. Dr. McLeod will then smooth away any roughness on the roots to reduce any future bacterial buildup.
If a patient's gum tissue doesn't respond to scaling and root planing, a deep pocket may develop that exposes the roots of a tooth to bacteria and decay. Periodontal pocket reduction is a process where Dr. McLeod folds back the gum tissue to remove harmful bacteria and smooth any damaged bone, allowing the gum tissue to once again reattach to the now healthy bone structure.
Patients who receive advanced periodontal disease treatment need to make practicing quality oral hygiene at home a top priority to prevent the future development of gum disease. Because personal oral care plays such a large role in periodontal treatment, our team at Newberg Family Dental will provide comprehensive instructions on the best flossing and brushing techniques for patients to use at home.
Bite Correction (Occlusion)
The jaws of our ancestors were much larger when compared to humanity's modern day physiology, which made for a more ideal bite - or occlusion. There was once far more space in the human mouth which provided plenty of room for teeth, including the wisdom teeth that many of us have removed today. However, genetic and dietary changes over tens of thousands of years have caused human jaws to shrink to the point where now 1 in 5 people suffer from some type of malocclusion where their teeth don't properly line up. While some misalignments are minor and don't require correction, many cases require treatment in order to improve a patient's oral health.
Many of the problems that adults have with their teeth are compounded by a bad bite relationship. The excessive forces from a bad bite on the teeth can loosen or break them, cause the gums to recede, and the jaw joint to break down. A balanced bite allows the patient to keep their teeth healthy. Without a balanced bite, a patient's long-term oral health becomes at risk.
Regular checkups and cleanings with Dr. McLeod and our team of gentle dental hygienists will help to diagnose patients with occlusion problems or other underlying habits that will impact the health of their smiles. Even for adult patients, it's never too late to seek treatment for an improper bite. Patients can always receive the gift of a healthy and beautiful smile at any age.