What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease is an inflammation of the gums that can progress to affect the bone that surrounds and supports your teeth. It is caused by the bacteria in plaque, a sticky, colorless film that constantly forms on your teeth. If not removed through daily brushing and flossing, plaque can build up and the bacteria infect not only your gums and teeth, but eventually the gum tissue and bone that support the teeth. This can cause them to become loose, fall out or have to be removed by a dentist.
There are three stages of gum disease:
* Gingivitis: this is the earliest stage of gum disease, an inflammation of the gums caused by plaque buildup at the gumline. If daily brushing and flossing do not remove the plaque, it produces toxins (poisons) that can irritate the gum tissue, causing gingivitis. You may notice some bleeding during brushing and flossing. At this early stage in gum disease, damage can be reversed, since the bone and connective tissue that hold the teeth in place are not yet affected.
* Periodontitis: at this stage, the supporting bone and fibers that hold your teeth in place are irreversibly damaged. Your gums may begin to form a pocket below the gumline, which traps food and plaque. Proper dental treatment and improved home care can usually help prevent further damage.
* Advanced Periodontitis: in this final stage of gum disease, the fibers and bone supporting your teeth are destroyed, which can cause your teeth to shift or loosen. This can affect your bite and, if aggressive treatment can’t save them, teeth may need to be removed.
How do I Know if I Have Gum Disease?
Gum disease can occur at any age, but it is most common among adults. If detected in its early stages, gum disease can be reversed so see your dentist if you notice any of the following symptoms:
* Gums that are red, puffy or swollen, or tender
* Gums that bleed during brushing or flossing
* Teeth that look longer because your gums have receded
* Gums that have separated, or pulled away, from your teeth, creating a pocket
* Changes in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
* Pus coming from between your teeth and gums
* Constant bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth
How is Gum Disease Treated?
* The early stages of gum disease can often be reversed with proper brushing and flossing. Good oral health will help keep plaque from building up.
* A professional cleaning by your dentist or hygienist is the only way to remove plaque that has built up and hardened into tartar. Your dentist or hygienist will clean or “scale” your teeth to remove the tartar above and below the gumline. If your condition is more severe, a root planing procedure may be performed. Root planing helps to smooth irregularities on the roots of the teeth making it more difficult for plaque to deposit there.
By scheduling regular checkups, early stage gum disease can be treated before it leads to a much more serious condition. If your condition is more advanced, treatment in the dental office will be required.
Healthy Gums – healthy gums are firm and don’t bleed. They fit snugly around the teeth.
Gingivitis – gums are mildly inflamed, may appear red or swollen and may bleed during brushing.
Periodontitis – gums begin to separate and recede from the teeth. This allows plaque to move toward the roots, supporting fibers and bone.
Advanced Periodontitis – supporting fibers and bone are destroyed. Teeth become loose and may need to be removed.
How Do I Help My Children Care for Their Teeth and Prevent Cavities?
Teaching your child proper oral care at a young age is an investment in his or her health that will pay lifelong dividends. You can start by setting an example; taking good care of your own teeth sends a message that oral health is something to be valued. And anything that makes taking care of teeth fun, like brushing along with your child or letting them choose their own toothbrush, encourages proper oral care.
To help your children protect their teeth and gums and greatly reduce their risk of getting cavities, teach them to follow these simple steps:
* Brush twice a day with an ADA — accepted fluoride toothpaste to remove plaque-the sticky film on teeth that’s the main cause of tooth decay.
* Floss daily to remove plaque from between your teeth and under the gumline, before it can harden into tartar. Once tartar has formed, it can only be removed by a professional cleaning.
* Eat a well-balanced diet that limits starchy or sugary foods, which produce plaque acids that cause tooth decay. When you do eat these foods, try to eat them with your meal instead of as a snack-the extra saliva produced during a meal helps rinse food from the mouth.
* Use dental products that contain fluoride, including toothpaste.
* Make sure that your children’s drinking water is fluoridated. If your water supply; municipal, well or bottled does not contain fluoride, your dentist or pediatrician may prescribe daily fluoride supplements.
* Take your child to the dentist for regular checkups.
What Brushing Techniques Can I Show My Child?
You may want to supervise your children until they get the hang of these simple steps:
* Use a pea-sized dab of an ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste. Take care that your child does not swallow the toothpaste.
* Using a soft-bristled toothbrush, brush the inside surface of each tooth first, where plaque may accumulate most. Brush gently back and forth.
* Clean the outer surfaces of each tooth. Angle the brush along the outer gumline. Gently brush back and forth.
* Brush the chewing surface of each tooth. Gently brush back and forth.
* Use the tip of the brush to clean behind each front tooth, both top and bottom.
* It’s always fun to brush the tongue!
When Should My Child Begin Flossing?
Because flossing removes food particles and plaque between teeth that brushing misses, you should floss for your children beginning at age 4. By the time they reach age 8, most kids can begin flossing for themselves.
What are Dental Sealants and How Do I Know if My Child Needs Them?
A dental sealant creates a highly-effective barrier against decay. Sealants are thin plastic coatings applied to the chewing surfaces of a child’s permanent back teeth, where most cavities form. Applying a sealant is not painful and can be performed in one dental visit. Your dentist can tell you whether your child might benefit from a dental sealant.
What is Fluoride and How Do I Know if My Child is Getting the Right Amount?
Fluoride is one of the best ways to help prevent against tooth decay. A naturally occurring mineral, fluoride combines with the tooth’s enamel to strengthen it. In many municipal water supplies, the right amount of fluoride is added for proper tooth development. To find out whether your water contains fluoride, and how much, call your local water district. If your water supply does not contain any (or enough) fluoride, your child’s pediatrician or dentist may suggest using fluoride drops or a mouthrinse in addition to a fluoride toothpaste.
How Important is Diet to My Child’s Oral Health?
A balanced diet is necessary for your child to develop strong, decay-resistant teeth. In addition to a full range of vitamins and minerals, a child’s diet should include plenty of calcium, phosphorous, and proper levels of fluoride.
If fluoride is your child’s greatest protection against tooth decay, then frequent snacking may be the biggest enemy. The sugars and starches found in many foods and snacks like cookies, candies, dried fruit, soft drinks, pretzels and potato chips combine with plaque on teeth to create acids. These acids attack the tooth enamel and may lead to cavities.
Each “plaque attack” can last up to 20 minutes after a meal or snack has been finished. Even a little nibble can create plaque acids. So it’s best to limit snacking between meals.
What Should I Do if My Child Chips, Breaks or Knocks Out a Tooth?
With any injury to your child’s mouth, you should contact your dentist immediately. The dentist will want to examine the affected area and determine appropriate treatment.
If your child is in pain from a broken, cracked or chipped tooth, you should visit the dentist immediately. You may want to give an over-the-counter pain reliever to your child until his/her appointment. If possible, keep any part of the tooth that has broken off and take this with you to the dentist.
If a tooth is completely knocked out of the mouth by an injury, take the tooth to your dentist as soon as possible. Handle the tooth as little as possible — do not wipe or otherwise clean the tooth. Store the tooth in water or milk until you get to a dentist. It may be possible for the tooth to be placed back into your child’s mouth, a procedure called reimplantation.
What is Good Oral Hygiene?
Good oral hygiene results in a mouth that looks and smells healthy. This means:
* Your teeth are clean and free of debris
* Gums are pink and do not hurt or bleed when you brush or floss
* Bad breath is not a constant problem
If your gums do hurt or bleed while brushing or flossing, or you are experiencing persistent bad breath, see your dentist. Any of these conditions may indicate a problem.
Your dentist or hygienist can help you learn good oral hygiene techniques and can help point out areas of your mouth that may require extra attention during brushing and flossing.
How is Good Oral Hygiene Practiced?
Maintaining good oral hygiene is one of the most important things you can do for your teeth and gums. Healthy teeth not only enable you to look and feel good, they make it possible to eat and speak properly. Good oral health is important to your overall well-being.
Daily preventive care, including proper brushing and flossing, will help stop problems before they develop and is much less painful, expensive, and worrisome than treating conditions that have been allowed to progress.
In between regular visits to the dentist, there are simple steps that each of us can take to greatly decrease the risk of developing tooth decay, gum disease and other dental problems. These include:
* Brushing thoroughly twice a day and flossing daily
* Eating a balanced diet and limiting snacks between meals
* Using dental products that contain fluoride, including toothpaste
* Rinsing with a fluoride mouthrinse if your dentist tells you to
* Making sure that your children under 12 drink fluoridated water or take a fluoride supplement if they live in a non-fluoridated area.
Proper Brushing Technique
brush1 brush2 brush3
Tilt the brush at a 45° angle against the gumline and sweep or roll the brush away from the gumline.
Gently brush the outside, inside and chewing surface of each tooth using short back-and-forth strokes.
Gently brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen breath.
Proper Flossing Technique
floss1 floss2 floss3
Use about 18″ of floss, leaving an inch or two to work with.
Gently follow the curves of your teeth.
Be sure to clean beneath the gumline, but avoid snapping the floss on the gums.
Our organization is for Kenyans with our main objective being to promote community oral health care. We are a group of dental surgeons who have come together equipped with skills and knowledge to reach out to the community that is in need of professional dental care but cannot afford to attend dental clinics. We want to offer them oral health education and free treatment where possible.