Dental examinations are used to investigate a wide range of oral problems, including tooth decay, gum or bone disease and tartar buildup. In cases of extreme oral damage, an extraction may be required to prevent the spread of infection. In this article, Kool Smiles, a national network of dental practices, investigates some of these common conditions to provide a better understanding of each.
Kool Smiles Investigates: Tooth Decay
Tooth decay is an oral disease caused by bacteria that live in the mouth. When a child consumes sugary foods, plaque interacts with the starchy deposits left on the teeth and produces acids that erode enamel, weaken teeth and cause cavities.
How to prevent tooth decay
Although tooth decay is a serious condition that can lead to other medical problems if left untreated, it is simple to prevent. Some ways to prevent tooth decay include:
- Brushing teeth at least twice a day
- Regularly flossing
- Using fluoride toothpaste
- Eating crunchy fruits and vegetables
- Seeing a dentist at least twice a year
According to Colgate, “If your dentist detects a small area of erosion on your enamel before it reaches the dentin, he may suggest an approach that would help repair the spot. This process might include using mouthrinses, toothpastes or filling materials that contain fluoride, calcium and phosphates.”
Kool Smiles Investigates: Gum Disease
Gum disease (also known as periodontal disease) is caused by an infection of the tissues that surround the teeth. Although gum disease is often painless, there are several warning signs that could indicate gum disease, including:
- Red, swollen gums
- Gums that bleed easily
- Loose or separating teeth (in adults)
- Gums that have pulled away from the teeth
- A change in the way teeth fit together
How to prevent gum disease
Like cavities, gum disease can be prevented with good dental hygiene habits like brushing teeth twice a day, flossing and seeing the dentist regularly. However, certain medical conditions and habits can increase your chance of gum disease, including:
- Some medications, including steroids, oral contraceptives and cancer therapy drugs
The earliest stage of gum disease is called gingivitis. If you think you or your child may have gingivitis or gum disease, contact the dentist immediately.
About Kool Smiles
Kool Smiles is dedicated to providing quality dental care to all children who need it, and is proud to accept Medicaid. Whether a child has a dental condition that requires further investigation or he/she needs a simple cleaning, the dental professionals at Kool Smiles are available to deliver care with compassion.