For most people, a checkup and cleaning every 6 months is standard protocol. Depending on a person's dental health, however, a dental cleaning every 3 to 4 months may be recommended.
Doctors use x-rays as an aid in diagnosing problems. Without x-rays, "seeing" the problems between teeth and under the gums will be difficult if not impossible.
Tooth decay happens when plaque or bacteria come in contact with the tooth and is allowed to sit. The bacteria, once fed with sugars, will begin eroding the enamel.
Causes for tooth decay include:
- Poor oral hygiene (brushing / flossing)
- Poor diet
Adults tend to get cavities around old fillings, which may be cracked, rough around the edges or loose in the tooth. Another common form of tooth decay in adults is root cavities. These are likely to occur in adults who have receding gums due to age or periodontal disease. As the gum line recedes, the tooth root becomes exposed. Since root tissue is softer than enamel, it decays more easily.
We ask that our female patients who are pregnant or think they possibly could be to inform us prior to your x-ray examination and dental treatment.
What you eat affects the air you exhale. Certain foods, such as garlic and onions, contribute to objectionable breath odor. Once the food is absorbed into the bloodstream, it is transferred to the lungs, where it is expelled. The odors will continue until the body eliminates the food. People who diet may develop unpleasant breath from infrequent eating.
If you don't brush and floss daily, particles of food remain in the mouth, collecting bacteria, which can cause bad breath. Food that collects between the teeth, on the tongue and around the gums can rot, leaving an unpleasant odor.
Dry mouth occurs when the flow of saliva decreases. Saliva is necessary to cleanse the mouth and remove particles that may cause odor. Dry mouth may be caused by various medications, salivary gland problems or continuously breathing through the mouth.
Tobacco products cause bad breath, so if you use tobacco, ask your dentist for tips on kicking the habit.
Bad breath may also be the sign of a medical disorder, such as a local infection in the respiratory tract, chronic sinusitis, postnasal drip, chronic bronchitis, diabetes, gastrointestinal disturbance, liver or kidney ailment.
You are probably familiar with the links between tobacco use and lung disease, cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Current studies have also established that tobacco smoking not only causes direct damage to your mouth but also makes periodontal diseases more damaging and harder to treat.
There is a greater incidence of calculus formation on teeth, deeper pockets between gums and teeth, more gum recession and more loss of the bone that hold teeth in your mouth. In addition, smokeless tobacco greatly increases your chance of developing oral cancer. Any tobacco usage can complicate the placement of dental implants.
Besides smokeless tobacco, cigarette smoking negatively impacts the health of the gums. The healing capacity of the mouth is significantly altered. The healing time from any procedure is always increased. Needless to say smoking creates more tartar, more stain, bad breath and an increased potential for mouth cancer.
Other chemicals impair the function of your white blood cells which are your first line of defense against infection. The tars contain carcinogens which over time induce cell mutations and cancers.
Quitting tobacco use will lower the risk of your developing cancer and improve the health of your teeth and gums, as well as your heart and lungs.
Smokeless tobacco poses very serious problems including:
- Causes tooth decay
- Eats away your gums
- Leads to tooth loss
- Bad breath
- Stains your teeth
- Causes oral sensitivity to hot and cold
- Decreases sense of taste and smell
If oral cancer is left untreated long enough, it may even cause death.
Oral piercings can be bad for your health. Because your mouth contains millions of bacteria, infection is a common complication of oral piercing. Pain and swelling are other side effects of piercing. Your tongue (a popular piercing site in the mouth) could swell large enough to close off your airway. Piercings can also cause uncontrollable bleeding or nerve damage. The jewelry itself also presents some hazards. You can choke on any studs, barbells or hoops that come loose in your mouth, and contact with the jewelry can chip or crack your teeth.
Bruxism, commonly known as 'tooth grinding', is the process of clenching together and the grinding of the upper and lower teeth. During sleep, the biting force of clenched jaws can be up to six times greater than during waking hours.
Bruxism can cause many complications if left untreated:
- Wear down tooth enamel
- Break fillings or other dental work
- Worsening of TMJ dysfunction
- Jaw pain, toothaches, headaches, or earaches
- Tooth sensitivity
- Tooth mobility
- Chipped teeth
- Erodes gums and supporting bones contributing to gum disease
The most common procedure to help alleviate this pain and discomfort is a Nightguard. The recent advancements with Nitghtguards have made them much more comfortable to wear and easier to store when not in your mouth. Dr. Elliott is a firm believer in Nightguards and recommends one for almost all patients that have several cracked or chipped teeth. Call Dr. Elliott's office today at 281-534-7112 and ask to be examined to determine if you need a Nightguard.
Our office provides smile makeovers to achieve the beautiful, natural look you seek. We can reshape your natural teeth to make them straighter or more youthful in appeal. Our office is easily accessible, has convenient hours, and a staff always ready to help.
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