When you visit the dentist, you often see other professionals in the office. Usually, the dentist will have a hygienist and a dental assistant as part of the team. While their roles aren’t the same as the dentist’s job, these individuals do play an important part in your dental care. Understanding what the hygienist and dental assistant do can make you feel more comfortable at your dental appointments.
The Dental Assistant
To become a dental assistant, an individual usually completes course work through a community college or technical school. This training will provide hands-on experience before the dental assistant works in an actual dental practice. A dental assistant can serve many functions, including assisting the dentist during treatment, taking impressions, sterilizing instruments, and making temporary crowns for patients. Dental assistants also welcome patients and help them feel comfortable in the dental office.
The Dental Hygienist
At a minimum, a dental hygienist must earn an associate’s degree, though many hygienists choose to obtain four-year degrees. Additionally, hygienists must be licensed in the states where they practice. The dental hygienist is generally responsible for taking patient x-rays, performing an initial periodontal assessment, and cleaning your teeth. During your appointment, the hygienist will also offer tips on home hygiene to help you maximize your oral car routine. A dental hygienist may also perform deep cleanings for gum disease, apply fluoride, remove sutures, and administer local anesthetic.
About 20 million Americans have been diagnosed with asthma, a long-term lung disease that causes swelling and narrowing of the airways. The condition has been linked to oral health, with patients having increased risk for cavities, gum problems, and bad breath.
One of the main culprits negatively impacting an asthma patient’s oral health is the medication required to treat the condition. Some medicines, such as corticosteroids, decrease the flow of saliva. This leads to dry mouth, which in turn can increase cavities and bad breath. Dry mouth is worsened by the fact that many asthma patients breathe through their mouth. Inhaled steroids can also increase the risk of thrush, which is caused by an overgrowth of yeast in the mouth.
Here are some tips for keeping your mouth safe while still controlling your asthma:
- Make sure your dentist is aware of your condition, as well as all medications that you are taking.
- Rinse your mouth with water or a fluoride mouthwash after using your inhaler.
- Consider using a spacer device with your inhaler, which will spray the medication directly into your throat and avoid some of the direct risks to your mouth.
- Bring your inhaler with you to dentist appointments, both to show it to your dentist and to have your medication available in case you experience an asthma attack at the office.
- Ask your dentist if more frequent dental visits are recommended in your case.
- Inquire about adding fluoride supplements to your routine, especially in areas where the water is not fluoridated.
- Maintain good brushing and flossing habits.
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Brush and brush and brush, but you probably will not be able to get rid of all the plaque on your teeth. Even with regular brushing, some amount of plaque will build up on your teeth and turn into a hard substance called tartar. It simply can’t be removed without professional help.
What is tartar?
Tartar is a hard, yellow or brown deposit that forms on your teeth both above and below your gum line. Any food particles remaining in your mouth after eating will breed bacteria, which creates a thin film on your teeth called plaque. Any plaque that isn’t removed with brushing and flossing will harden to create tartar.
Is it harmful?
Tartar makes the surface of your teeth rough, which attracts food particles and therefore accelerates tartar formation. If you allow tartar to continue building up, your teeth will become discolored and your gums will be at risk. You will likely develop gingivitis, in which your gums become swollen and red. They will bleed easily and become painful, and eventually can lead to tooth loss. Advanced gum disease is even linked to higher risks of stroke, heart attack, and lung disease.
How is it removed?
Tartar is too hard and stubborn to be removed with regular brushing. The only effective way to eliminate tartar is by visiting your dentist and having it removed using professional equipment. This procedure is commonly called scaling.
Can I prevent tartar buildup?
Regular brushing at least twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste can help reduce tartar formation. Unfortunately, even with proper dental hygiene, plaque buildup is inevitable over time and will become tartar. Schedule regular checkups with your dentist to have professional cleanings performed.
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Most dentists recommend that patients replace their toothbrushes every three to four months. About this time, the bristles start to wear out or become frayed, which makes the tool less effective. You should also replace your toothbrush right away if you have been sick so that you don’t re-infect yourself.
Once you are done with the toothbrush, you don’t have to immediately toss it in the trash. These creative opportunities will allow you to put that old toothbrush to good use.
Dust the keyboard
The precision of the bristles makes it a cinch to get between the keys.
If you get spots on your carpet or upholstery, an old toothbrush will enable you to really scrub the soiled area and remove the stain.
Touch up your roots
For those who dye their own hair, an old toothbrush is the perfect tool for applying color to specific areas.
Dislodge dirt from under your nails
Gardening will help your plants grow, but will also make your manicure look less than appealing. With an old toothbrush, you can say good-bye to grimy nails.
To make your favorite pieces sparkle, use an old toothbrush and a tab of toothpaste to restore their beauty.
Clean bike chains
If you don’t want to look like a mechanic after taking grease off the chains, you can grab an old toothbrush and easily finish the job.
Remove silk strings off ears of corn
Before boiling corn, wipe the ears with an old toothbrush to eliminate the corn silk and keep it out of your teeth.
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Why wait until you have a toothache, bleeding gums, bad breath, or other problems to decide it’s time to start focusing on your oral health? Your mouth and your whole body can benefit from maintaining good oral health. Here is some simple advice that will help you along the path to a healthy smile.
Brushing and flossing
Tooth decay and gum disease are both preventable with proper brushing and flossing. Brush with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste, using a circular motion. It’s best to brush after every meal, but twice a day should be the minimum. Gently floss your teeth daily to remove food particles and bacteria between your teeth.
Focusing on eating foods from each food group will aid your oral health in addition to your overall health. Not getting essential nutrients in your diet increases your risk of gum disease, and also makes it more difficult for your body to resist infection. Eat low fat dairy items, lean proteins, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Look for foods low in sugar, which can lead to tooth decay. Avoid snacking too much during the day when you aren’t going to brush your teeth afterwards, and drink plenty of water throughout the day.
Seeing your dentist
Visit your dentist at least twice a year for checkups. During these appointments, your dentist will look for problems and professionally clean your teeth. Delays in treatment of some conditions can cause them to worsen to the point that treatment may be more painful, difficult, or costly. Your dentist will help you keep your teeth and gums healthy so that you can keep smiling as long as possible.
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Chances are that you want to have a smile full of sparkly, white, straight teeth. You must not forget about the goal of having a healthy smile too. If you don’t pay proper attention to your mouth, there are a number of diseases and problems that can arise. Poor hygiene causes many problems, from minor to severe, so it’s smarter to make sure your teeth stay in good condition. Follow these suggestions for a healthy smile.
Focus on daily care
Your mouth requires care every single day. You simply can’t perform hygiene tasks once every few days or just when it’s convenient, and expect to have a healthy, attractive smile. Follow your dentist’s instructions on properly brushing your teeth at least twice daily, and flossing every day too. In fact, flossing is just as important to your oral health as brushing! By performing both of these daily tasks, you’ll be able to remove debris and germs and improve your smile.
Choose your products wisely
Select toothpaste that meets your goals. It should always contain fluoride, but you can also choose brands with objectives like tartar protection, improving bad breath, and teeth whitening. You may also want to choose a mouthwash that you can use to quickly clean your mouth, or supplement your other oral care products.
Don’t ignore your dentist
Even if you’re properly caring for your mouth at home, it’s important to continue seeing your dentist regularly. Experts suggest having dental checkups every six months, so your dentist can look for problems like gum disease, cavities, and infections. It’s smart to get any issues treated right away, before things worsen and lead to more costly, painful procedures later.
Schedule your appointment today at our Shreveport dental office.