Maintaining healthy teeth and gums is a lifelong commitment. The earlier you learn proper oral hygiene habits — such as brushing, flossing, and limiting your sugar intake — the easier it’ll be to avoid costly dental procedures and long-term health issues.
Common Dental Problems
Dental and Oral Health
Common Teeth Problems
Brushing your teeth regularly is even more important with braces than without because food can so easily become trapped in your braces’ wires and brackets. This is why we recommend brushing 3 times a day with braces, or after each meal.
- Begin brushing at the top of each tooth with a soft-bristled toothbrush, and then move up from the bottom. Use small, circular, angled motions to help you reach the surface under the braces’ wires.
- Next, use a proxabrush (sometimes called a “Christmas tree” brush) to remove any remaining food caught in your braces. Insert the brush in between your braces arch wires and the tooth’s surface, sweeping back and forth several times to ensure cleanliness.
- Use a floss threader to aid in the flossing process. Thread your floss through the eye of the threader, and slide the threader between your arch wire and tooth. Pull floss through, and continue with normal flossing procedure.
- Finally, you may want to use a fluoride rinse for extra dental care hygiene. This will wash away any remaining food particles and clean areas a toothbrush can’t reach.
Once you have had your braces taken off, remember to take proper care of your retainer. Clean it with a spare toothbrush every time you brush your teeth, and use a disinfectant on it at least once a week.
If the pain from a toothache is severe, if it is accompanied by a fever or a headache or if it lasts for more than 1-2 days, you should go to the dentist for an examination. Depending on the cause and severity of the problem, your dentist may fill a cavity or extract the tooth.
Tooth sensitivity happens when the gums pull back from a tooth to expose the soft layer of dentin beneath. This allows hot and cold foods and drinks to reach the nerve in your tooth and cause a mild to sharp pain. Tooth sensitivity can be caused by tooth decay, gum disease, teeth grinding, or age, among other factors.
Luckily, tooth sensitivity is manageable. Regular brushing and flossing help keep your teeth and gums healthy and prevent gums from withdrawing from your teeth. You should use a soft-bristled brush, and you may want to try a toothpaste for sensitive teeth and/or a fluoridated mouth rinse. Avoid highly acidic foods and drinks, and see your dentist if the problem continues.
Discoloration or staining of your teeth can be caused by several factors, though it is most often brought about by a combination of poor dental hygiene and consumption of certain stain-inducing foods and drinks. It can also occasionally be caused by disease, trauma, certain medications, excessive fluoride, and advancing age.
Be sure to brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss regularly too. Avoid drinks that may cause staining, such as coffee, tea, soda, and wine. Don’t smoke or chew tobacco either, as these both affect the appearance of your teeth. During your next visit to the dentist, you can discuss the possibility of bondings, veneers, or whitening agents to improve the appearance of your teeth.
Plaque is a sticky, colorless bacteria that forms on teeth after you eat foods containing sugars and starches. If plaque is not cleaned from teeth within 24 hours or so, it can harden into tartar, which is much harder to remove. Both plaque and tartar can damage your tooth enamel and lead to tooth decay or gum disease.
When you brush your teeth, pay special attention to the area where your teeth and gums meet. If you are having trouble getting rid of plaque with a regular toothbrush, you may want to try an electronic toothbrush. Floss at least once a day, and eat a balanced diet, avoiding excessive sugar and sweets. Talk to your dentist about getting dental sealants if you don’t have them already.
Teeth grinding may be caused by an abnormal bite, missing or crooked teeth, or stress or anxiety. It often occurs during sleep, so you may not even realize you are doing it. A dull, constant headache and sore jaw are common symptoms. The best way to find out if you are grinding teeth is to ask your dentist during your next visit.
Your dentist can provide you with a mouth guard that will protect your teeth from grinding while you sleep. Avoiding foods and drinks with caffeine, as well as alcohol, can help reduce teeth grinding. Don’t chew on pencils, pens, or anything that isn’t food to help train yourself out of grinding your teeth. Applying a warm washcloth against your cheek at night can also help you relax your jaw before sleep.
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