Hygiene and Periodontal Health

Dr. Coates’ office provides routine cleanings and periodontal treatments depending on the patients needs.  Patients are encouraged to have this important health service done on a routine basis, since oral cancer screenings  and decay detection are also performed at these visits.  For most patients having their teeth cleaned every six months will help to prevent diseases of the gums like gingivitis or infections.

Patients with periodontal disease need lifelong maintenance.  Periodontitis is a genetic disease.  Patients can not be “cured”, but the symptoms of the disease can be minimized.  Uncontrolled periodontal disease results in destruction and permanent loss of gums and the bone which supports the teeth and in severe cases lead to the loss of teeth.

Good oral hygiene is essential in preserving your teeth for a lifetime. A basic routine includes brushing three times a day and flossing daily. Every side of the tooth and the gums should be kept clean. Flossing is needed to keep in between the teeth clean. Healthy gums should not bleed when brushing or flossing. All cleaning methods have the same goal: to remove plaque. Plaque is a thin, sticky layer of bacteria that must be removed daily. It is the cause of decay, periodontal disease, and bad breath. If left on the teeth for  24 hours, it can harden into tartar deposits (calculus). Tartar generally can not be removed by brushing, and removal usually requires the help of a professional dental hygienist.
Plaque is soft. Use a soft toothbrush. A hard one may scratch the enamel, and will not adapt to the curvature of your teeth. Hard toothbrushes can also wear away healthy gums. Apply light pressure and small circular strokes while holding the brush bristles at an angle of 45 degrees against the gum line. Brush for at least 2 minutes to ensure thorough removal of plaque.
When flossing, wrap the floss around your middle fingers while allowing about six inches between your hands. Use your free index fingers to guide about 1 inch of the floss. Run the floss between your teeth, and carefully push it under the gumline. Now pull the floss against the tooth, and pull down and out. This should wipe the side of one tooth. So now you have to go back between the same two teeth, and get the side of the other tooth. You can do it!
If you have a bridge, use a special floss threader or Superfloss to clean underneath. You can get decay around crowns and bridges, so don’t skip them.
Listerine is clinically proven to kill oral bacteria. Dr. Coates recommends the new citrus flavor because it doesn’t seem to burn as much. ACT fluoride rinse is an over-the-counter fluoride supplement. It can help harden and strengthen the teeth, but does not kill as may bacteria as Listerine.
Bad Breath
Also called halitosis. Two main causes of halitosis are odors from the mouth, and odors from the stomach. Lax muscles in the stomach or esophagus can allow odors from the stomach to escape. Sometimes, bacterial infections in the stomach are the culprit.
Usually, food trapped in the teeth, poor oral hygiene, and uncontrolled gum disease is to blame. If you have not been to the dental office for a cleaning in the past six months, that is a good place to start.
Mints and mouthwash can cover the problem, but you have to remove the source of the odor. Brush, floss, and then brush your tongue.
Dr. Coates recommends the use of a tongue scraper daily. Your tongue has a rough surface that traps tiny food particles, and a bacterial film called plaque. Scraping your tongue will lower the amount of bacteria in your mouth. Reducing the number of bacteria can improve the overall health of your mouth. Tongue scrapers are available in drug stores, and can help you get a super-clean feeling