Health Maintenance & Cleanings

Why do regular dental visits matter?

Regular dental visits are important because they can help spot dental health problems early on when treatment is likely to be simpler and more affordable. They also help prevent many problems from developing in the first place. Visiting your dentist regularly is also important because some diseases or medical conditions have symptoms that can appear in the mouth.

What are some signs I should see a dentist?

  • Your teeth are sensitive to hot or cold
  • Your gums are puffy and/or they bleed when you brush or floss
  • You have fillings, crowns, dental implants, dentures, etc.
  • You don’t like the way your smile or teeth look
  • You have persistent bad breath or bad taste in your mouth
  • You are pregnant
  • You have pain or swelling in your mouth, face or neck
  • You have difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • You have a family history of gum disease or tooth decay
  • You have a medical condition such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, eating disorders or are HIV positive
  • Your mouth is often dry
  • You smoke or use other tobacco products
  • You are undergoing medical treatment such as radiation, chemotherapy or hormone replacement therapy
  • Your jaw sometimes pops or is painful when opening and closing, chewing or when you first wake up; you have an uneven bite
  • You have a spot or sore that doesn’t look or feel right in your mouth and it isn’t going away

I’m not having any symptoms. Do I still need to see a dentist?

Yes. Even if you don’t have any symptoms, you can still have dental health problems that only a dentist can diagnose. Regular dental visits will also help prevent problems from developing. Continuity of care is an important part of any health plan and dental health is no exception. Keeping your mouth healthy is an essential piece of your overall health. It’s also important to keep your dentist informed of any changes in your overall health since many medical conditions can affect your dental health too.

Here are some tips to help you take care of your smile:

Healthy habits

Brushing your teeth is the cornerstone of any good oral hygiene routine. To keep your teeth and gums healthy, always be sure to brush your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled brush. The size and shape of your brush should fit your mouth allowing you to reach all areas easily. Also, don’t forget to replace your toothbrush every three or four months or sooner if the bristles are frayed. A worn toothbrush won’t do a good job of cleaning your teeth. Finally, make sure to use an ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste. It makes no difference whether you choose a manual or powered toothbrush—just make sure to brush twice a day, every day!

Build a relationship

Continuity of care is an important part of any health plan and dental health is no exception. When your dentist sees you regularly, he or she is in a good position to catch oral problems early. For instance, catching gum disease when it’s still reversible, or cavities when they are small and are more easily treated.
Maintain. Keeping your mouth healthy is an essential piece of your overall health. It’s important to keep your dentist informed of any changes in your overall health as well.
Talk about it! Only your dentist can determine what the best treatment plan is for you. Have questions about your oral health or certain dental procedures? Start a conversation. Ask your dentist to explain step-by-step. Dentists love having satisfied, healthy patients.

Flossing

Flossing goes hand in hand with brushing. By flossing once a day, you help to remove plaque from between your teeth in areas where the toothbrush can’t reach. Flossing can be done with dental floss or another product made specifically to clean between the teeth like pre-threaded flossers, tiny brushes that reach between the teeth, water flossers, or wooden plaque removers. It is extremely important to floss because plaque that is not removed by brushing and flossing can eventually harden into calculus or tartar. Once tartar has formed, it can only be removed by a professional cleaning.

Heart Disease and Oral Health

Take care of your gums…help your heart?

The American Heart Association published a Statement in April 2012 supporting an association between gum disease and heart disease. The article noted that current scientific data do not indicate if regular brushing and flossing or treatment of gum disease will decrease the incidence, rate or severity of the narrowing of the arteries (called atherosclerosis) that can lead to heart attacks and strokes. However, many studies show an as-yet-unexplained association between gum disease and several serious health conditions, including heart disease, even after adjusting for common risk factors.

Gum disease is an infection of the tissues that support the teeth and is a major cause of tooth loss in adults. The ADA and MouthHealthy believe that the most important thing you can do to avoid gum disease and maintain good oral health (including prevention of tooth decay or cavities) is:

  • Brush teeth twice a day with an ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste.
  • Clean between teeth daily with floss or an interdental cleaner.
  • Eat a balanced diet and limit between-meal snacks.
  • Visit your dentist regularly for oral examinations and professional cleanings.
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