The most important part of tooth care happens at home. Half of American adults have periodontal disease and once established it can only be treated and not eliminated. Making a habit of brushing properly twice a day (morning and at bedtime for two minutes), flossing, and using a mouthwash as well as establishing good oral habits including: drinking plenty of water, avoiding sugary snacks, keeping a fresh toothbrush when bristles become worn (about every two months) and regular dental checkups go a long way to preventing disease and cavities. A thorough cleaning by one of our certified dental hygienists is recommended two times per year if there is no periodontal (gum) disease present. A deeper, more extensive cleaning below the gumline is necessary for those with active periodontal disease – see periodontal disease treatment.
As a new patient with Dr. Schotthoefer, you’ll receive a comprehensive oral examination and x-rays allowing her to assess your oral health and establish a baseline for your care. During the exam, she will check for signs of:
By following these simple guidelines for oral care, you will be doing your best to maintain better oral health and a brighter smile.
Patients of Inspired Family Dental Care receive a prophylaxis cleaning. That means your teeth are cleaned at the gum line to remove cavity-causing plaque and on the surface of each tooth to remove surface stains, plaque, calculus, and bacteria. When left on the tooth surface, plaque (the sticky white film that coats the teeth) will turn to calculus, a harder substance that builds up near the gum line and causes gum disease. A prophylaxis cleaning removes plaque and calculus on the teeth and at the gum line, but does not address bacteria below the gum line. A deeper cleaning is necessary for those with active periodontal disease – see periodontal disease treatment.
Dr. Schotthoefer was especially trained in dental school to detect pathological abnormalities of the head and neck and she has been diligent with these exams for each of her patients. Because she sees her patients on a regular basis, Dr. Schotthoefer is often more familiar with nuances and subtle changes in the skin of her patients. She also has the added benefit of screening inside the mouth for changes that might be an early indication of cancer. Dr Schotthoefer recounts her encounters with early detection, “I have detected skin cancer on patients before their general practitioners have due to seeing them more frequently than their doctor. I once detected skin cancer right before it reached a patient’s lymph nodes in his neck.” Inspired Family Dental Care does cancer screenings along with tooth exams at every hygiene visit.
In our office we recommend a fluoride treatment for your teeth immediately following your cleaning. A fluoride treatment means you cover the teeth with fluoride in addition to what you may be receiving from your water or toothpaste. The fluoride can be painted on with a swab, used in a tray, or a mouthwash that is used one time while you are in the office and takes just minutes. Fluoride helps strengthen the enamel by restoring minerals on the surface of your teeth and fights bacteria that can cause cavities and gingivitis. Fluoride treatments are beneficial for both children and adults.
“It’s important to remember that periodontal health is essential for the health of the whole body,” says Dr. Schotthoefer. “Patients with periodontal disease are at higher risk for heart attack and stroke. We focus on prevention at our practice and when treatment is necessary we tailor it to each individual patient’s needs.”
Patients diagnosed with active periodontal disease require treatment above and below the gum line. These patients generally receive SRP (scaling and root-planing), a non-surgical treatment that removes build-up, smooths out exposed root surfaces and may include the application of localized antibiotics. SRP often takes several visits to complete and ongoing periodontal maintenance is prescribed at regular intervals afterward. Periodontal disease begins as gingivitis with red, swollen, and sometimes bleeding gums. As it progresses, it becomes periodontitis. Symptoms include gum tissue pulling away from the teeth, exposed roots, bone loss, teeth may loosen and fall out. Periodontal disease is managed but once active is never eliminated. Your best prevention is excellent home care and keeping your regular hygiene visits with us.
Not to be confused with mouth guards, a bite guard is worn at night while we sleep and is designed to protect the teeth from wear due to unconscious grinding and clenching. Signs you may need a bite guard are: soreness in the jaw muscles (TMJ/TMD), unexplained wear on teeth or restorations, headache when you wake in the morning, damaged tissue on the insides of your cheeks from chewing. Unconscious grinding and clenching can cause many expensive dental problems and disrupt your valuable sleep.