Massachusetts Department of Public Health Office of Oral Health         August 2009Let’s Communicate About Dental Health…A...
Massachusetts Department of Public Health Office of Oral Health         August 2009Let’s Communicate About Dental Health…A...
Massachusetts Department of Public Health Office of Oral Health         August 2009Let’s Communicate About Dental Health…A...
Massachusetts Department of Public Health Office of Oral Health         August 2009Let’s Communicate About Dental Health…A...
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  1. 1. Massachusetts Department of Public Health Office of Oral Health August 2009Let’s Communicate About Dental Health…All About Health Teeth and GumsLet’s Communicate About Dental Health!Healthy Teeth and GumsWhy is dental health important? 1. If you want your body to be healthy, you must have healthy teeth and gums. 2. Teeth help you eat food, which helps keep your body healthy and strong. 3. Teeth help you smile and communicate feelings of happiness!What are Cavities?Cavities, Tooth DecayWhen you eat or drink something with sugar, your mouth begins to make plaque.Plaque is made up of bacteria, which are germs that stick to your teeth. Bacteriabecome acid when it eats the sugar in your mouth. Teeth are made up ofminerals to make them hard and strong, just like bones. When acid from thebacteria sits on the teeth, it takes away the minerals. This makes the teeth veryweak, and eventually forms cavities.Cavities might not hurt you until they are very large. Since you do notalways feel cavities, it is important to get a dental exam at least once everyyear.What is Gum Disease?Gum DiseaseYour gums hold your teeth safely and tightly into the jaw bone. When the gumsare healthy they look pink and firm, and they do not bleed. If bacteria staybetween the teeth and around the gums, they will cause an infection. Over time,this infection makes the gums bleed and pull away from the tooth. In serious gumdisease, the teeth can become loose and fall out. Having an infection in yourmouth is not healthy, and should be treated as soon as possible.You might not feel early gum disease because it usually does not hurt until thegum infection is very bad. When you go to the dentist, the dental hygienist anddentist will be looking at your gums for signs of gum disease. Just like cavities, itis important to find and treat gum disease early!Prevent Cavities and Gum Disease 1. Snack on healthy low-sugar foods. 2. Brush your teeth two times a day with fluoride toothpaste. 3. Floss your teeth once a day. 1
  2. 2. Massachusetts Department of Public Health Office of Oral Health August 2009Let’s Communicate About Dental Health…All About Health Teeth and Gums 4. Drink tap water that has fluoride in it. 5. Get a dental exam by a dentist at least once a year, and teeth cleanings at least 2 times per year.Treating CavitiesCavities must be fixed by the dentist. Some cavities are small, and some cavitiescan get very large. If the cavity is small, the dentist can fix it with an easy filling.The dentist might give you a shot to make your tooth numb. Then, he/she cleansaway the infection from the cavity and fills it with either amalgam (silver filling) orcomposite (tooth-colored filling). Both tooth-colored fillings and silver fillings arefine, but talk to your dentist about what he/she thinks is best for you.Root CanalsIf the cavity is very large, it can enter the deepest part of the tooth, where thenerve and the blood vessels are. If the infection enters this part of the tooth, orthe tooth is damaged badly in an accident, a root canal might be needed. Adentist might send you to a dental specialist, or endodontic, for this procedure.The infection is cleaned inside the tooth and a material is placed inside theroots. You might need a crown on the tooth after you have the root canalcompleted. Sometimes it can take several weeks and many dental appointmentsto get the root canal and the crown finishedReplacing Missing TeethSometimes a tooth is damaged too badly, and it needs to be taken out. It isimportant to replace missing teeth because your teeth fit together in a specialway. When a tooth is missing, the other teeth don’t work properly. They can movearound, causing problems with eating and pain in your jaw. You can replace teethwith a/an:1. Partial Denture: This removable appliance hooks onto the teeth in your mouth and has a fake tooth to fill the space of the missing tooth.2. Full Denture: If all of the teeth are missing, a full denture can be made so you can eat and smile again. Sometimes full denture s can be fixed with implant surgery.3. Bridge: A bridge connects teeth with one big restoration. Crowns for “anchor” teeth are attached to fake teeth that sit in the middle.4. Implant: An implant is a surgical way to replace teeth. A metal post is placed in the jaw bone. Once it heals, a crown is put onto the post.Treating Gum DiseaseSadly, damage done with gum disease can not be fixed; however the diseasecan be stopped from getting worse with proper treatment. The dental hygienist 2
  3. 3. Massachusetts Department of Public Health Office of Oral Health August 2009Let’s Communicate About Dental Health…All About Health Teeth and Gumsand dentist might recommend a deep cleaning or scaling and root planning. If thegums are swollen and red and have pulled away from the tooth, “pockets” areformed. The pocket must be cleaned to get rid of any plaque or hardened plaquethat is contributing to the gum infection. Sometimes a dentist will refer you to agum specialist, or Periodontist, for more evaluation. Further gum treatmentsmight be needed after scaling and root planning.Brush your teeth 2 times each day1. Brush the chewing surfaces of your teeth with short back and forth strokes.2. Brush the outside and inside of your teeth by pointing the bristles to yourgums and gently moving the brush in small circles.3. Clean off bacteria and freshen your breath by brushing your tongue.Floss your teeth 1 time each day 1. Flossing will take away the plaque between the teeth. If you remove it each day, your gums will be healthier to support your teeth. 2. Wrap the floss around the tooth so that it “hugs” the tooth in a “c” shape.Communicating at the DentistCircle the teeth or areas of the gums that are bothering you or causing you pain.Bring this to your dentist and dental hygienist so they can help you.Try answering these questions and bring them with you when you go to thedentist.These are important questions the dentist and dental hygienist need toknow!1. When was your last dental check up?2. When was your last teeth cleaning?3. Do you have any pain in your mouth? Yes or No4. Do your gums bleed when you brush your teeth? Yes or No5. Do you take any over the counter or prescription medications? Please List them here.6. Do you wear assistive hearing devices? Yes or No If Yes to number 5, do very high pitched sounds bother you at the dental office? Yes or No7. How would you prefer the dental staff to communicate with you? a. Sign Language Interpreter 3
  4. 4. Massachusetts Department of Public Health Office of Oral Health August 2009Let’s Communicate About Dental Health…All About Health Teeth and Gums b. Written Communication c. Family Member Assistance d. OtherDo you have questions for the dentist?Jot them down and bring them with you to your next appointment! 4

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