Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally in many foods and water. Every day, minerals are added to and lost from a tooth’s enamel layer through two processes, demineralization and remineralization. Minerals are lost (demineralization) from a tooth’s enamel layer when acids — formed from plaque bacteria and sugars in the mouth — attack the enamel. Minerals such as fluoride, calcium, and phosphate are redeposited (remineralization) to the enamel layer from the foods and waters consumed. Too much demineralization without enough remineralization to repair the enamel layer leads to tooth decay. Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay by making the tooth more resistant to acid attacks from plaque bacteria and sugars in the mouth. It also reverses early decay. In children under six years of age, fluoride becomes incorporated into the development of permanent teeth, making it difficult for acids to demineralize the teeth. Fluoride also helps speed remineralization as well as disrupts acid production in already erupted teeth of both children and adults. It is certainly important for infants and children between the ages of 6 months and 16 years to be exposed to fluoride. This is the time frame during which the primary and permanent teeth come in. However, adults benefit from fluoride too. New research indicates that topical fluoride — from toothpastes, mouth rinses, and fluoride treatments — are as important in fighting tooth decay as in strengthening developing teeth. We offer fluoride treatments at our dental office during cleaning appointments and recommend our younger patients get it at least once a year.
Periodontal maintenance is the procedures and protocols used to clean and maintain the teeth and gums following a diagnosis and stabilization treatment of periodontal disease (Scaling/Root Planning). Although periodontal disease is not cured, the good news is it can be arrested. The procedures done at a perio maintenance appointment may appear to the patient to be very similar to a regular cleaning, but it is different because the dental hygienist must now evaluate, instrument, and monitor the tissues differently and quite often more frequently.
Scaling/Root Planning: (deep cleaning)
This seems to be a dentistry procedure that causes so much confusion for patients in trying to understand the difference between “just a cleaning” and Scaling and Root Planing and the need and reason for this procedure. Scaling and Root Planing is done to remove tartar and hard crusty calculus, that is loaded with bacteria, around and BELOW the gum line. A professional polishing or prophy removes only the soft sticky plaque that is above the gum line. It is a method of treating gum disease when pockets are formed around the teeth having a measurement of greater than 3mm. Scaling is a procedure that meticulously removes contaminated toxins, micro-organisms, plaque, tartar, cementum, dentin that is rough and/or permeated by calculus from around, below and under the gum line down to the bottom of the pocket. This is done to remove biofilm, calculus, and toxin down to the bottom of each periodontal pocket in order to obtain a healing response. Root planing involves smoothing the root surfaces of your teeth with thin curettes (specialized instruments) so gum tissue can more firmly reattach to roots that are clean and smooth to prevent tooth loss and sensitivity problems. The procedure makes it more difficult for plaque to accumulate along the root surfaces. Because this procedure goes deeper than a regular cleaning, your mouth may be numbed. The cleaning may take two visits to complete. Depending on the extent of the disease you may need one or more sections (quadrants) of the mouth to be treated with scaling and root planing. Treatment may require one or more visits to our dental office.
Dental sealants are thin plastic coatings that are applied to the grooves on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth to protect them from tooth decay. Most tooth decay in children and teens occurs on these surfaces. Sealants protect the chewing surfaces from tooth decay by keeping germs and food particles out of these grooves. Applying sealants does not require drilling or removing tooth structure. The process is short and easy. After the tooth is cleaned, a special gel is placed on the chewing surface for a few seconds. The tooth is then washed off and dried. Then, the sealant is painted on the tooth. The dental hygienist shines a light on the tooth to help harden the sealant. It takes about a minute for the sealant to form a protective shield.