The cornerstone to a good oral hygiene regimen is proper brushing and flossing habits. For more on brushing and flossing, see our Brushing & Flossing page.
Tooth Decay Prevention
Tooth decay is a progressive disease resulting in the interaction of bacteria that naturally occur on the teeth and sugars in the everyday diet. Sugar causes a reaction in the bacteria, causing it to produce acids that break down the mineral in teeth, forming a cavity. Dentists remove the decay and fill the tooth using a variety of fillings, restoring the tooth to a healthy state. Nerve damage can result from severe decay and may require a crown (a crown is like a large filling that can cap a tooth, making it stronger or covering it). Avoiding unnecessary decay simply requires strict adherence to a dental hygiene regimen: brushing and flossing twice a day, regular dental checkups, diet control and fluoride treatment. Practicing good hygiene avoids unhealthy teeth and costly treatment.
The grooves and depressions that form the chewing surfaces of the back teeth are extremely difficult (if not impossible) to clean of bacteria and food. As the bacteria reacts with the food, acids form and break down the tooth enamel, causing cavities. Recent studies indicate that 88 percent of total cavities in American schoolchildren are caused this way.
Tooth sealants protect these susceptible areas by sealing the grooves and depressions, preventing bacteria and food particles from residing in these areas. Sealant material is a resin typically applied to the back teeth, molars and premolars and areas prone to cavities. It lasts for several years but needs to be checked during regular appointments.
Fluoride is a substance that helps teeth become stronger and resistant to decay. Regularly drinking water treated with fluoride, along with brushing and flossing regularly, ensures significantly fewer cavities.
In order to provide our patients with the highest quality of dental services, we use dental radiographs, or X-rays, in our office. These radiographs provide us with invaluable information about your oral and dental health.
While radiographic equipment does produce radiation (and depends on that radiation to function properly), modern advances in technology continually are reducing the amount of radiation that is produced. In fact, studies have shown that the amount of radiation produced by these machines is not significantly higher than other “normal” sources of radiation that we are exposed to on perhaps a daily basis, such as televisions and airplanes.
X-rays work on a simple principle: The X-rays are stimulated and sent through the mouth. When these rays pass through, they are absorbed more by the bones in your mouth than the gums and other soft tissues, creating a picture of how the teeth inside your mouth are positioned, as well as any potential areas of weakness or decay in your teeth.
While this radiation is very low, it still is recommended that pregnant women avoid any unnecessary X-rays. However, pregnant women are also more vulnerable to gum disease, so X-rays may be recommended, in which case, proper precautions should be taken, such as using a lead apron and thyroid collar.