10 Things You Should Know About Your Teeth
By Heather Mitchell
1) To properly remove plaque buildup you should brush at least two times a day for at least 2-3 minutes at each brushing to stimulate the gums. The brushing should be concentrated against the gum line, gently (if too much pressure is applied when brushing the gums can recede and enamel can become weakened) and the inside and outside surfaces should be brushed concentrating on pits and crevices. Dentists suggest using a tooth paste with fluoride and flossing the teeth at least one time a day. The roof of the mouth and tongue should not be ignored, as they are a site for the bacterial growth as well.
2) It’s recommended to make an appointment every 6 months to see your dentist for a check-up and teeth cleaning, so if there is anything abnormal it can be taken care of before it gets worse.
3) The bacteria Streptococcus mutans is what produces plaque, the sticky substance on teeth that traps food. If the plaque isn’t removed from the teeth, the bacteria digest the nutrients in it, generating acids that erode teeth.
4) Dental caries or cavities are caused by this acid that is produced by the bacteria, as the acid erodes the teeth through the enamel to the dentin.
5) If proper measures aren’t taken to remove the plaque by brushing and flossing, the bacteria cause gingivitis, an inflammation of the gums. Gingivitis can then lead to periodontitis, or gum disease.
6) Gum disease is caused by:
-Poor oral hygiene habits that allow the accumulation of plaque.
-Hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy, monthly menstruation, menopause, and puberty cause the gums to be more sensitive and prone to disease.
-Illnesses that affect the immune system make it harder for the body to fight off disease.
-Diabetes caused uncontrolled blood sugar levels, making them immunocompromised and more susceptible to disease.
-Medications or other things that cause a decreased amount of saliva produced make the teeth more inclined to acquire disease, as saliva contains a protectant for mouth.
-Smoking makes it more difficult for the gums to repair themselves.
-A family history of gum disease predisposes a person to this condition.
7) When periodontitis occurs, the bacteria and body’s enzymes (sent by the immune system to combat the infection) break down the connective tissue and bone that keeps the tooth in place. If the disease progresses, the pockets created by this breakdown deepen and the tissue and bone are further destroyed causing tooth loss.
8) Gum disease affects your overall health, often being linked to heart disease and stroke. People with gum disease are two times more likely to have coronary disease.
-This is because oral bacteria negatively affect the heart when circulated, as they attach to plaques that may exist in coronary arteries.
-Swelling of the coronary arteries has been linked to the inflammation caused by periodontal disease.
9) Root canals, one of the most painful periodontal procedures, involve removing the damaged or infected tissues or nerves from the inside of the tooth. Some of the major causes of root canals are tooth decay and build up, tooth fracture (from clenching and/or grinding teeth together), and tooth trauma (from damage to nerves and tissues).
10) Gum disease is not a minute infection, as many assume. It is said that the mass of tissue in the mouth infected with disease is equal to a skin infection on your arm that extends from the wrist to the elbow.
“Gum Disease (Gingivitis and Periodontitis) Symptoms, Treatments, Causes.” WebMD – Better Information. Better Health. Web. 07 Dec. 2010. http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/gingivitis-periodontal-disease.
“Oral Cancer – Overview of Oral Cancer.” Dentistry – Your Guide to Dentistry and Dental Care. Web. 07 Dec. 2010. http://dentistry.about.com/od/seriousdentalconditions/p/Cancer.htm.
“Taking Care of Your Teeth.” KidsHealth – the Web’s Most Visited Site about Children’s Health. Web. 07 Dec. 2010.< http://kidshealth.org/teen/your_body/take_care/teeth.html>.
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