What is basic dental care?

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Basic Dental Care

Basic dental care involves brushing and flossing your teeth regularly, seeing your dentist and/or dental hygienist for regular checkups and cleanings, and eating a mouth-healthy diet, which means foods high in whole grains, vegetables and fruits, and dairy products.

As an adult, you are not immune to dental problems. In addition to maintaining a good home care routine, the best thing you can do is to schedule regular dental checkups and professional cleanings. You also have a variety of cosmetic options available, including orthodontics (braces), whitening (both in-office and at-home) and bonding (veneers).

Dentistry is a branch of medicine that consists of the study, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases, disorders, and conditions of the oral cavity, commonly in the dentition but also the oral mucosa, and of adjacent and related structures and tissues, particularly in the maxillofacial (jaw and facial) area.[1] Although primarily associated with teeth among the general public, the field of dentistry or dental medicine is not limited to teeth but includes other aspects of the craniofacial complex including the temporomandibular and other supporting structures.

Dentistry is often also understood to subsume the now largely defunct medical specialty of stomatology (the study of the mouth and its disorders and diseases) for which reason the two terms are used interchangeably in certain regions.

Dental treatments are carried out by a dental team, which often consists of a dentist and dental auxiliaries (dental assistants, dental hygienists, dental technicians, as well as dental therapists). Most dentists either work in private practices (primary care), dental hospitals or (secondary care) institutions (prisons, armed forces bases, etc.).

The history of dentistry is almost as ancient as the history of humanity and civilization with the earliest evidence dating from 7000 BC. Remains from the early Harappan periods of the Indus Valley Civilization (c. 3300 BC) show evidence of teeth having been drilled dating back 9,000 years.[2] It is thought that dental surgery was the first specialization from medicine.

Why is basic dental care important?

Practicing basic dental care:

  • Prevents tooth decay .
  • Prevents gum (periodontal) disease , which can damage gum tissue and the bones that support teeth , and in the long term can lead to the loss of teeth.
  • Shortens time with the dentist and dental hygienist, and makes the trip more pleasant.
  • Saves money. By preventing tooth decay and gum disease, you can reduce the need for fillings and other costly procedures.
  • Helps prevent bad breath. Brushing and flossing rid your mouth of the bacteria that cause bad breath.
  • Helps keep teeth white by preventing staining from food, drinks, and tobacco.
  • Improves overall health.
  • Makes it possible for your teeth to last a lifetime.

Are there ways to avoid dental problems?

Keeping your teeth and gums healthy requires good nutrition and regular brushing and flossing.

  • Brush your teeth twice a day—in the morning and before bed—and floss once a day. This removes plaque , which can lead to damaged teeth, gums, and surrounding bone.
  • Use a toothpaste that contains fluoride , which helps prevent tooth decay and cavities . Ask your dentist if you need a mouthwash that contains fluoride or one with ingredients that fight plaque. Look for toothpastes that have been approved by the American Dental Association.
  • Avoid foods that contain a lot of sugar. Sugar helps plaque grow.
  • Avoid using tobacco products, which can cause gum disease and oral cancer . Exposure to tobacco smoke (secondhand smoke) also may cause gum disease as well as other health problems. footnote 1
  • Practice tongue cleaning. You can use a tongue cleaner or a soft-bristle toothbrush, stroking in a back-to-front direction. Tongue cleaning is particularly important for people who smoke or whose tongues are coated or deeply grooved.
  • Schedule regular trips to the dentist based on how often you need exams and cleaning.

Brushing for oral health

Oral health begins with clean teeth. Keeping the area where your teeth meet your gums clean can prevent gum disease, while keeping your tooth surfaces clean can help you stave off cavities. Consider these brushing basics from the American Dental Association:

Brush your teeth twice a day. When you brush, don’t rush. Take time to do a thorough job.

Use the proper equipment. Use a fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush that fits your mouth comfortably. Consider using an electric or battery-operated toothbrush, which can reduce plaque and a mild form of gum disease (gingivitis) more than does manual brushing. These devices are also helpful if you have arthritis or other problems that make it difficult to brush effectively.

Practice good technique. Hold your toothbrush at a slight angle — aiming the bristles toward the area where your tooth meets your gum. Gently brush with short back-and-forth motions. Remember to brush the outside, inside and chewing surfaces of your teeth, as well as your tongue.

Keep your equipment clean. Always rinse your toothbrush with water after brushing. Store your toothbrush in an upright position and allow it to air-dry until using it again. Try to keep it separate from other toothbrushes in the same holder to prevent cross-contamination. Don’t routinely cover toothbrushes or store them in closed containers, which can encourage the growth of bacteria, mold and yeast.

Know when to replace your toothbrush. Invest in a new toothbrush or a replacement head for your electric or battery-operated toothbrush every three to four months — or sooner if the bristles become irregular or frayed.

Flossing for oral health

You can’t reach the tight spaces between your teeth and under the gumline with a toothbrush. That’s why daily flossing is important. When you floss:

Don’t skimp. Break off about 18 inches (46 centimeters) of dental floss. Wind most of the floss around the middle finger on one hand, and the rest around the middle finger on the other hand. Grip the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers.

Be gentle. Guide the floss between your teeth using a rubbing motion. Don’t snap the floss into your gums. When the floss reaches your gumline, curve it against one tooth.

Take it one tooth at a time. Slide the floss into the space between your gum and tooth. Use the floss to gently rub the side of the tooth in an up-and-down motion. Unwind fresh floss as you progress to the rest of your teeth.

Keep it up. If you find it hard to handle floss, use an interdental cleaner — such as a dental pick, pre-threaded flosser, tiny brushes that reach between teeth, a water flosser or wooden or silicone plaque remover.

As long as you do a thorough job, it doesn’t matter if you brush or floss first.

When to see the dentist

To prevent gum disease and other oral health problems, schedule regular dental cleanings and exams. In the meantime, contact your dentist if you notice any signs or symptoms that could suggest oral health problems, such as:

  • Red, tender or swollen gums
  • Gums that bleed when you brush or floss
  • Gums that begin pulling away from your teeth
  • Loose permanent teeth
  • Changes in the way your top and bottom teeth align with each other
  • Unusual sensitivity to hot and cold
  • Persistent bad breath or an unusual taste in your mouth
  • Changes in the way your dentures or partial dentures fit
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Mouth ulcers or sores that don’t heal

Remember, early detection and treatment of problems with your gums, teeth and mouth can help ensure a lifetime of good oral health.

Dental treatment

Dentistry usually encompasses practices related to the oral cavity.[6] According to the World Health Organization, oral diseases are major public health problems due to their high incidence and prevalence across the globe, with the disadvantaged affected more than other socio-economic groups.[7]

The majority of dental treatments are carried out to prevent or treat the two most common oral diseases which are dental caries (tooth decay) and periodontal disease (gum disease or pyorrhea). Common treatments involve the restoration of teeth, extraction or surgical removal of teeth, scaling and root planing and endodontic root canal treatment.

All dentists in the United States undergo at least three years of undergraduate studies, but nearly all complete a bachelor’s degree. This schooling is followed by four years of dental school to qualify as a “Doctor of Dental Surgery” (DDS) or “Doctor of Dental Medicine” (DMD). Dentists need to complete additional qualifications or continuing education to carry out more complex treatments such as sedation, oral and maxillofacial surgery, and dental implants.

By nature of their general training they can carry out the majority of dental treatments such as restorative (fillings, crowns, bridges), prosthetic (dentures), endodontic (root canal) therapy, periodontal (gum) therapy, and extraction of teeth, as well as performing examinations, radiographs (x-rays), and diagnosis. Dentists can also prescribe medications such as antibiotics, sedatives, and any other drugs used in patient management.

Dentists also encourage prevention of oral diseases through proper hygiene and regular, twice yearly, checkups for professional cleaning and evaluation. Oral infections and inflammations may affect overall health and conditions in the oral cavity may be indicative of systemic diseases, such as osteoporosis, diabetes, celiac disease or cancer.[6][8][11][12] Many studies have also shown that gum disease is associated with an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, and preterm birth. The concept that oral health can affect systemic health and disease is referred to as “oral-systemic health”.

Systematic, regular dental care promotes the health of your teeth and mouth, allowing you a troubleless studying time. The most important for the welfare of the mouth and teeth is, however, good self-care, for which FSHS oral health care professionals give you advice and support.

For those who started their studies on 1 September 2005 or later, the first oral health care examination (extensive dental examination which is done once during the study time) is free of charge. The first visit for examination is always free for students regardless of the phase or length of their studies. All later appointments and emergency treatment are subject to charge.

Signs of Dental Problems

These are signs that a horse is having problems with his teeth:

  • long, unchewed particles of hay in manure
  • changes in eating or drinking habits
  • irregular movement of lower jaw
  • bumps or enlargement on jaw/side of face
  • abnormal tongue carriage
  • sharp points on front of first lower or upper molars
  • oral pain
  • head shy
  • quidding – dropping partially chewed food from mouth
  • weight loss
  • halitosis
  • abnormal slurping sound during chewing
  • food pocketing between teeth
  • loosening and loss of teeth
  • lacerations of cheek and tongue
  • “hamster-like” cheek swelling
  • very slow chewing
  • inappetence
  • holding head in abnormal position during eating
  • using one side of the mouth for chewing
  • reluctance to eat hay
  • spending more time eating
  • abnormal head carriage
  • resistance to bit
  • head shaking during work
  • foul smelling, chronic nasal discharge from one nostril
  • excess salivation
  • bleeding from mouth
  • swelling or distortion of lips
  • tooth displacement
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