29 May The Risks of Avoiding Regular Dental Care
Often, we may know the answer to a question, but we are hoping for a different response. We seek a reply that aligns with what we want versus what we know is best. With dental care, we know it is recommended to have our teeth cleaned every six months, but we will Google ourselves crazy hoping to find one website that says we can wait for one year or longer. The risks of avoiding regular dental care are long and it not only affects your mouth but your overall health.
We brush our teeth every day. We floss and rinse. We feel healthy. These actions combined with potential anxiety about going to the dentist, financial or insurance concerns, may cause us to justify why a visit to the dentist can be postponed. But consider this: scientists have discovered over 700 distinct species of bacteria living in our mouths. In fact, the human mouth contains more bacteria than the total population of earth. And while we may brush and floss regularly, we are also eating, drinking, talking, kissing, and exposing our mouths to a host of germs every second of the day.
From cavities to more serious and life-threatening illnesses, here is what may be happening to your mouth in the absence of daily dental care and regular checkups.
Everyone has plaque. Bacteria which naturally lives in our mouth help create a sticky film that builds on our teeth. Left unattended plaque can turn to tartar which further harbors more bacteria, causing dental decay and/or gum disease. Enjoy your favorite foods and beverages but follow the ADA Daily 4: Brush, Floss, Rinse, and Chew. Brush your teeth twice per day for two minutes each time to keep plaque-causing bacteria away. Floss once per day to remove plaque between teeth. Replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months or after recent illness including a cold. Choose a soft-bristle brush that fits your mouth comfortably. Forgo the less expensive generics, choosing a brush that has been approved by the American Dental Association. Products with the ADA seal on the packaging have been evaluated to meet specific quality and performance criteria.
When personal dental care habits decrease, periodontal and other mouth disorders increase. On the surface, our mouth may look healthy, but plaque build-up can develop below the gum line. Nerves, roots, gum tissue, and bone are silently affected by plaque. Bleeding or swollen gums, toothaches, gum recession, and the breakdown of bone supporting teeth can occur. Corrections may include root canals, crowns, bridges, or dental implants when a tooth is lost or removed.
Left untreated, periodontal disease can contribute to other nonoral conditions including heart disease, respiratory infection, diabetes, and cancer.
During a 6-month cleaning, a dental hygienist will gently remove plaque build-up on teeth and around the gum. X-rays enable your dental provider to ensure your whole mouth is healthy including what you cannot see below-the-surface.
Oral cancer is not a rare disease and it is on the rise. In 2018 over 46,000 people will be diagnosed with oral cancer. This disease can affect any area of the oral cavity including mouth, throat, lips, and tongue. Both male and female ages 17 years and older are at risk for oral cancer diagnosis. Oral cancer is not visible to the naked eye, nor can it be seen under traditional white lights, even by an oral pathologist. Difficulty in detection is one reason why 70% of oral cancer cases are diagnosed in Stage 3 and 4.
The good news is the recent development of an optically-based fluorescence technology that enables dentists to screen for pre-cancer and cancer abnormalities in the mouth. No anxiety needed as this non-invasive procedure lasts just 2-minutes and is conducted using a small handheld device similar in shape to a flashlight. As a member of the ID for Life™ program and OralID™, Imperial Dental Center can screen for oral cancer in its earliest stages.
EASY OR DIFFICULT THE CHOICE IS YOURS
When you consider the devastating effects of poor dental care, heading to the dentist every 6-months is an easy decision to make. Following the Daily 4, is a short and simple routine that can ward off bacteria-causing issues that require longer-term correction. And while the internet may house articles that tell you what you want to hear, it cannot care for your teeth, see below your gums, or predict when more serious health issues including oral cancer may occur. Take charge of your health and schedule an appointment today.
Dr. Dragana Angelov
Imperial Dental Center
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