Dental Hygiene & Prevention
At Northwood Dental Associates, dental hygiene is highly valued. We have three comprehensively-trained dental hygienists to care for your teeth and provide you with what we believe is the best teeth cleaning in Lexington SC! Did you know the health of your teeth and gums can also have an influence on systemic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes?
In recent years, bacterial inflammation involved in gum disease has been linked to chronic health problems like stroke, coronary artery disease, diabetes, and premature, low birth-weight babies. Our doctors and hygienists take great care to identify and treat gum disease early to keep you and your mouth healthy.
It is very important to get your teeth cleaned at least every six months, and some patients may require more frequent cleanings due to periodontal disease or frequent tartar build up. Your dental hygienist and dentist will together assess your oral health and recommend which type of cleaning is best for you.
At a typical hygiene appointment you can expect the following:
- Review of dental and medical health history: Your hygienist will update your chart with any changes in health or chief dental concerns. Be sure to let us know if you are taking any new medications or have had any recent surgeries or hospitalizations.
- Digital radiographs (xrays): Radiographs are used to detect cavities between your teeth and pathology in the bone, where your dentist cannot see with the naked eye. It is ideal to have a full mouth series (FMX) of xrays or a Panoramic xray once every five years and a series of bitewings once a year. You can rest assured that the amount of radiation you are exposed to during this process is very minimal – and is actually less than received during a cross-country airplane flight.
- Removal of calculus (tartar): Your hygenist will use manual hand instruments in addition to an instrument called a Cavitron that vibrates at high frequency to help better remove the build up. Calculus is a very hard deposit and cannot be removed at home with your toothbrush.
- Polishing: The polishing of your teeth is best achieved with an instrument called a ProphyJet that sprays out warm pumice water. During this process, your hygienist will place a soft cloth over your eyes and place Vaseline on your lips to shield them from the spray. If you do not prefer the ProphyJet, you can still request the traditional “paste and cup” polish; however, know that the ProphyJet is the latest and best polishing technology and provides an ideal, stain free surface on your teeth.
- Flossing: Your hygienist will floss your teeth and teach you the best way to care for your teeth and gums at home.
- Fluoride treatment: Fluoride treatment is recommended at each hygiene appointment to help provide strong enamel. We have a fluoride varnish, typically used for children, and a fluoride rinse for our adult patients.
- Exam and Oral Cancer Screening: Your dentist will come in and examine your teeth for any areas of decay or periodontal concerns. He or she will also do a full soft tissue oral cancer exam to ensure that your oral health is the best it can be. Oral cancer is the sixth most common cancer in the US so it is very important to come in for your regular dental checkups. Dr. Rodgers is always happy to answer any questions you may have during the dental exam process!
Periodontal disease (also called “gum disease” or “periodontitis”) can cause inflammation, tooth loss and bone damage. Gum disease begins with a sticky film of bacteria called plaque. Gums in the early stage of disease, or gingivitis, can bleed easily and become red and swollen. As the disease progresses to periodontitis, teeth may fall out or need to be removed by a dentist. Gum disease is highly preventable and can usually be avoided by daily brushing and flossing. One indicator of gum disease is consistent bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth.
Unfortunately, periodontal-related problems are often discovered after they have persisted for an extended period of time. Proper oral hygiene, daily dental care and regular dental checkups will minimize the risk of gum disease. Gum disease ranges from mild gingivitis (bleeding upon flossing or brushing) to moderate/severe periodontitis (loss of the gingival attachment and bone around teeth). Treatments are available for every case of gum disease.
Common problems associated with gum disease:
- “Long” teeth (receding gum lines expose the root portions of your teeth)
- Discolored or deteriorating tooth structure
- Gum depressions (holes in between the teeth in the gum tissue)
- Infected gum line (discoloration or inflammation of the gum tissue)
- Tooth loss or tooth movement
The effects of gum disease can be damaging to your dental health; however, our team at Northwood Dental Associates in Lexington, SC is committed to helping you avoid problems associated with periodontitis.
Bad Breath (Halitosis)
Daily brushing and flossing helps to prevent the build-up of food particles, plaque and bacteria in your mouth. Food particles left in the mouth deteriorate and cause bad breath. While certain foods, such as garlic or anchovies, may create temporary bad breath, consistent bad breath may be a sign of gum disease or another dental problem. Brushing your tongue every day also helps decrease bad breath, as the tongue can be a harbor for bacteria. A mouthwash can be used daily to help freshen breath, but if the food particles are not manually removed via brushing and flossing, the mouthwash will only act to camouflage the bad breath temporarily.
Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and a small strip of fluoride toothpaste. When you brush your teeth, move the brush in small circular motions to reach food particles that may be under your gum line. Hold the toothbrush at a 45 degree angle and brush slowly and carefully, covering all areas between teeth and the surface of each tooth. Plaque is very soft upon initial formation and thus to remove it only requires gentle pressure. It should take you about two minutes to thoroughly brush your teeth. Brush up on the lower teeth, down on the upper teeth and the outside, inside and chewing surface of all of your front and back teeth. Don’t forget to brush your tongue as well as the roof of your mouth before you rinse.
Brush your teeth at least two times a day to avoid the accumulation of food particles and plaque:
- In the morning, after breakfast
- At bedtime, after dinner
As soon as the bristles start to wear down or fray, replace your toothbrush with a new one. Do not swallow any toothpaste. Rinse your mouth thoroughly with water after you finish brushing. It is important to carefully floss and brush daily for optimal oral hygiene.
For areas between the teeth that a toothbrush can’t reach, dental floss is used to remove food particles and plaque. Dental floss is a thin thread of waxed nylon that is used to reach below the gum line and clean between teeth. It is very important to floss between your teeth every day.
Pull approximately 12 inches of floss from the dispenser. Wrap the ends of the floss tightly around your index fingers. Guide the floss between all teeth to the gum line, hugging each tooth surface in a “C” shaped motion. Unwrap clean floss from around your fingers as you go so that you have used the floss from beginning to end when you finish. Floss behind all of your back teeth as well.
Floss at night to make sure your teeth are clean before you go to bed. When you first begin flossing, your gums may bleed a little. This is normal, as your gums will toughen up over time. If the bleeding does not go away after two weeks, let a staff member know at your next appointment.
Tooth Decay Prevention
Tooth decay is a progressive disease resulting in the interaction of bacteria that naturally occur on the teeth and sugars in the everyday diet. Sugar initiates a reaction in the bacteria, causing it to produce acids that break down the mineral in teeth, forming a cavity. Dentists remove the decay and fill the tooth using a white filling material, restoring the tooth to a healthy state. Nerve damage can result from severe decay and may require a root canal and/or crown (a crown is like a large filling that can cap a tooth, making it stronger or covering it). Avoiding unnecessary decay simply requires strict adherence to a dental hygiene regimen: brushing and flossing twice a day, regular dental checkups every 6 months, diet control and fluoride treatment. Practicing good oral hygiene helps avoid unhealthy teeth and costly treatment.
The deep grooves and depressions that form the chewing surfaces of the back teeth are extremely difficult (if not impossible) to clean of bacteria and food. As the bacteria reacts with the food, acids form and break down the tooth enamel, causing cavities. Recent studies indicate that 88 percent of total cavities in American school children occur down in these deep grooves. This is totally preventable with the early placement of sealants!
Tooth sealants protect these susceptible areas by sealing, and thus eliminating, the grooves and depressions, preventing bacteria and food particles from residing in these areas. Sealant material is a white resin typically applied to areas prone to cavities. It lasts for several years, but needs to be checked during regular appointments as it can wear out over time due to normal chewing.
MONDAY to THURSDAY
from 8AM until 5PM
closed for lunch from 1pm to 2pm
I would definitely recommend Northwood Dental. They are all very accommodating and genuinely kind people to work with. They each have a high standard of work ethic and it truly shows.
I have been going to Northwood Dental since I retired from the Army in 2007. Their staff have been caring and professional with all of my dental needs. I would highly recommend their services to anyone in the Midlands!
Fabulous dental group! Each and every person at Northwood makes the visit a happy time. They feel like family. I am so glad I found them all!
I highly recommend Northwood Dental Associates. Their commitment to serving its patients is excellent. Thanks for being my dental provider.