As your dental health team, we want to inform you of what we believe is important to good hygiene. At our office, you get more than just a cleaning. We examine your teeth to detect for tooth decay, gum disease, oral cancer, and take preventative measures to protect your teeth and inform you of possible problems. We may perform a saliva test to check for pathogens that cause periodontal disease and linked to other diseases such as heart attacks, strokes, diabetes and cancer. Healthy gums contribute greatly to your overall health and well being.
YOUR HYGIENE VISIT
You will receive a thorough examination during your oral hygiene visit. This will allow us to better inform you on the health of your teeth and gums.
Oral Hygiene Services we provide:
Good Oral Hygiene Begins At Home
Once your dentist or hygienist has completed your oral hygiene appointment, there are a few simple things you can do to continue a regimen of good oral hygiene at home. They include proper flossing and brushing, as well as eating a balanced diet.
Daily Flossing Removes Plaque and Food Particles
Plaque is the number one cause of tooth decay, gum disease and bad breath. Here's how you can remove plaque with dental floss:
Give Plaque The Brush
Choose a toothbrush with soft, nylon bristles; the tips of the bristles should be smooth and rounded. We will be happy to recommend a specific brush that best meets your dental needs. Here's what to do:
To Keep Your Smile For A Lifetime
Good oral hygiene is a great habit to get into! In addition to having routine oral hygiene appointments, you should brush and floss daily and eat a balanced diet. Keep your smile sparkling for a lifetime!
Chances are that you or a family member have some stage of gum (periodontal) disease. Relax. While many adults do develop some degree of periodontal disease as part of the aging process, there are some steps you can take to prevent periodontal disease.
What Is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal (gum) disease is caused by PLAQUE, a colorless film of bacteria that forms on the teeth. Plaque is most harmful when these bacteria form into colonies - that takes about 24 hours. If not removed daily, plaque mixes with sugars and starches in the diet to form acids and other by-products in the mouth. Plaque irritates the gums, causing them to become red, tender and swollen. It causes the gums to bleed easily. If not removed, plaque hardens to form calculus (tartar) around the necks of the teeth.
Eventually, the tissue that attaches the gums to the teeth is destroyed by the irritants in plaque. The gums pull away from the teeth and small pockets form between the teeth and gums. These pockets become filled with more plaque. Eventually, the jawbone supporting the teeth is destroyed.
Periodontal disease is usually a slow, painless, progressive disease. Most adults with gum disease are unaware that they have it. If diagnosed early, however, the teeth can be saved.
Other Causes of Periodontal Disease
In addition to plaque, a number of factors cause gum disease including:
What Are The Signs?
Of course, the only way to confirm a diagnosis of periodontal disease is to have your mouth thoroughly examined, and the necessary oral x-rays taken. We also recommend a thorough prophylaxis (tooth cleaning) for all adults at least twice a year. At that time we may use a special instrument called a periodontal probe to measure the depth of the crevice (pocket) - the space between the tooth and the gum tissue. Pocket depth measurement, clinical examination and x-rays determine the precise extent of gum disease.
The type of treatment you require depends on how advanced your particular case is. Individualized treatment may include any of the following:
More than half of all adults ages 35 and over have the early stages of this disease. Three out of four adults are eventually affected by it. Periodontal disease is the primary cause of lost teeth after age 35. But the good news is that there are steps you can take to prevent periodontal disease in your mouth. If caught in its early stages, gum disease can be reversed.
A Final Word...
You need not lose your teeth to gum disease. With today's state-of-the-art treatment procedures, be assured that most teeth can be saved. Good periodontal health starts with the patient. Here's what you can do to prevent or control gum disease:
Oral cancer is not a pleasant subject, but one that we would like to discuss with you. You see, almost 30,000 new cases of oral cancer will occur this year and about one-third that number will die from the disease. Remember, oral cancer is preventable - and can be cured - if detected early.
About Oral Cancer
Cancer is a disease characterized by the abnormal growth and spread of malignant cells. In the early stages, mouth cancer is painless. Pain occurs only in the more advanced stages.
Mouth cancer occurs more commonly in patients with poor oral hygiene. Smokers and heavy drinkers have the highest incidence of oral cancer. Smokers, for example, have five times the risk of developing oral cancer as non-smokers. That risk increases significantly with smokers who also drink heavily. Smokeless tobacco (snuff and chewing tobacco) users also have a significantly higher risk of developing oral cancer.
In light of these facts, there is reassuring news about oral cancer: Ninety percent of all cases are curable when caught and treated early. Oral cancer has one of the highest cure rates of all cancers!
Signs and Symptoms
While no two patients are alike, there are some common warning signs and symptoms of oral cancer. If you notice any of the following, please contact us at once:
How Can I Reduce My Chances Of Developing Oral Cancer?
While no one is completely free from the threat of oral cancer, there are a number of self-help steps YOU can take to minimize your risks:
Is There Anything I Can Do At Home?
Yes. Once a month you can practice the oral cancer self-exam at home, and it only takes a few minutes. Here's how:
Oral Cancer Self-Exam
Face and Neck
Look at your face and neck in a mirror. Using your right hand, feel the left side of your neck and the area under your chin. Repeat this on the right side of your face, using your left hand. Do both sides look and feel the same?
Look at your lips by first examining and feeling the outside. Pull the lower lip down with your thumb and forefinger. Feel the inside and outside. Repeat this examination on the upper lip. Are there any color changes, lumps or sores?
Check your gums with the lips pulled away. Look at and touch the gums using your forefinger. Does the tissue look like it did last month?
With your thumb and forefinger at the corner of your mouth, draw the cheek away from your teeth. Keeping the mouth relaxed, look at and feel the cheek with your fingers. Repeat on the other side.
Stick out your tongue. Grasp the end (be careful - it's strong and very slippery!) with a gauze square or the corner of a washcloth. Look at and touch the top surface. Turn your tongue to the right and then to the left. Do you see any lumps or growths on your tongue? Now, touch the tip of your tongue to the back of the roof of your mouth (as far as you can) and look at the floor of your mouth. Look at the underside of your tongue, too. Are there any unusual lumps or growths?
Back of the Mouth
Last, say "Ah," to examine the back of your mouth. Tilt your head back slightly to see the roof of your mouth. Do you see any white scaly patches?
A Final Word...
We're enthusiastic about oral cancer prevention. In fact, we routinely screen all our adult patients. If you have any further questions, or would like individual instruction, please ask us. The best defense against oral cancer is prevention, and it starts with you!
HARKINS, HANCOCK & JOHNSTON DENTISTRY | 11010 QUAKER AVE | LUBBOCK, TX 79424 | (806) 797-6453