Dupont Dental - Your Washington DC Dentist


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How to Stop Bleeding Gums

Red, swollen, bleeding gums are never a symptom to casually brush off. Maybe you were brushing your teeth and realized your gums were bleeding or maybe you saw blood on your floss. In either case, you were probably anxious to stop your bleeding gums quickly!

In this post, we’ll cover:

  • The causes of bleeding gums
  • How to stop bleeding gums
  • When to see the dentist

Causes of Bleeding Gums

Before you try to stop bleeding gums, it’s important to realize why bleeding gums occur. Below is a small sample of conditions that can cause bleeding:

  • Gingivitis
  • Pregnancy-induced gingivitis: Hormones can cause pregnant women to experience bleeding gums, but usually this resolves after delivery. It is very important to maintain good oral hygiene throughout pregnancy, including continuing with your regular dental cleanings.
  • Vigorous flossing: “Popping” flossing between your teeth can irritate sensitive gum tissue.
  • Side effects of medication: Blood thinners, for example, are known to cause gums that easily bleed.
  • Using a hard-bristled toothbrush: Not only does this wear down your enamel, but toothbrushes with hard bristles can cause your gums to bleed as well.
  • Vitamin deficiency: A vitamin C deficiency, better known as scurvy, can lead to bleeding gums, loose teeth, joint pain, anemia, and slow-healing wounds. Although oral health is affected by scurvy, a vitamin deficiency is better treated by your primary care physician.

What about gingivitis?

Gingivitis is one of the most common causes of bleeding gums. Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease. Curious how gum disease causes bleeding gums? Here’s the scoop: If you have too much plaque on your teeth, it can build up over time and irritate your gums. As your gums become more irritated by the plaque, your gums will start to pull away from your tooth. This is why your dentist measures the pockets of space between your teeth and your gums. Irritated gums will bleed more often.

The good news is that gingivitis is treatable. You can treat gingivitis by working extra hard to remove plaque, and that includes making sure you are flossing properly once each day. To remove plaque around your gum line, take a piece of floss, insert it between your teeth, and gently “hug” your tooth in a C-shape to floss around the gum line. This will help remove plaque around your gum line, which will eventually help reduce bleeding gums. You might also benefit from a water flosser, which is proven to remove plaque around the gum line.

How to Stop Bleeding Gums

Only your dentist can ascertain the cause of your bleeding gums, and this is the first step is stopping the bleeding. Once you learn the cause of your bleeding gums, you can implement a few lifestyle changes to stop the bleeding.

  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush: If your bleeding gums are caused by using a hard-bristled toothbrush, you will likely see an improvement once you switch to a soft-bristled toothbrush. Remember to brush with firm but gentle pressure.
  • Floss regularly: Not only will this remove plaque, but it can help reduce bleeding by removing the debris and plaque that is irritating your gums. If your bleeding gums are caused by vigorous flossing, you will see your gums heal a few days after using more gentle flossing techniques.
  • Use a cold compress
  • Try a new toothpaste: Look for toothpaste that specifically formulated to help treat gingivitis. If you need help choosing the right toothpaste, your dentist can make a recommendation for you.
  • Use a mediated mouthwash, available by prescription from your dentist
  • Use an antibacterial mouthwash: You can find one in your local drugstore, but your dentist may also be able to prescribe you a medicated mouthwash.
  • Add more dairy products to your diet: According to an article published in the Journal of Periodontology, individuals who include plenty of dairy products in their weekly menu experienced less gum disease and therefore less bleeding gums. Be sure to add milk, cheese, and yogurt to your grocery list.
  • Take any medications as directed: If you have an oral infection, always take your medication as directed. Never stop, start, or alter your dose unless directed to do so by your dentist or doctor.
  • Take a nutritional supplement: This should be done under the direction of your physician if your bleeding gums are due to a vitamin deficiency

However, some causes of bleeding gums are not so easily remedied at home. If you need to take a medication that results in sensitive or bleeding gums, the remedy isn’t quite so easy. If you cannot stop taking your medication, you’ll need to look at other ways to stop the bleeding and soothe the gums.

  • Try swishing salt water: This helps promote gum healing. Take 1-2 teaspoons of salt and dissolve it into one cup of warm water. Swish and rinse.
  • Brush even more gently: This is particularly important if you are on blood thinners and your gums are extra sensitive.

When to See the Dentist

Bleeding gums can be caused by poor oral care hygiene practices (i.e., brushing too hard) or by an underlying medical condition (vitamin deficiency or gum disease). Because of this, it’s always a good idea to receive a proper diagnosis form your dentist. As mentioned earlier, gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease, but it is much easier to treat gingivitis than advanced gum disease.

Let Us Help You

Do your gums bleed every time you brush your teeth? Are they red, swollen, and tender? Don’t delay treatment. Get the care you need. Contact us today!

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How to get food stuck in your dental implants out

How to Get Food Stuck in Your Dental Implants Out

Dental implants can be a boon for patients who are missing a tooth here or there but who otherwise have a healthy oral structure. One of the most unpleasant things that can happen after they are installed, though, is having food get stuck in them. Not only does this look unsightly, but the food can also cause discomfort for you. Below, the Dupont Dental team shares a few tips for dealing with this common problem.

Using an Oral Irrigator

While taking care of your dental implants shouldn’t be any more difficult than taking care of your natural teeth, there are ways to make it easier. Flossing regularly is one reason, but doing so does have its limitations. For example, to be effective at flossing, you need to have the manual dexterity to maneuver the dental floss to get food out of all the hard to reach places in your mouth.

Another drawback to flossing is that you might not know the proper technique to use, so you skip it altogether. Flossing is also limited in the area that can be reached. Using an oral irrigator can help remove food debris that’s under your dental implant and provide instant relief.

Oral Irrigator Basics

It’s likely that you’ve heard of an oral irrigator though you might know it by another name. A “water pik,” “water flosser” and “hydroflosser” are all names of an oral irrigator. Most models have a reservoir that is filled with water. A hose is then directed at different areas of your mouth, and the water from the reservoir is squirted inside.

It’s important to charge up the oral irrigator before using it to get the full effect from it. A relatively inexpensive dental tool, an oral irrigator is an effective way for patients with dental devices, such as dental implants and braces, to keep their teeth clean and free of food debris. Many models feature different levels of pressure so that the user can customize it to suit their needs and preferences. Also, there is often a feature that allows you to pause the pulsing of the water so that you can switch the location of the stream of water or angle it better.

For most people, finding an oral irrigator is quick and easy. Available in many drug, grocery and department stores, prices range from around $30 and up with some models costing as much as $100. For most purposes, though, a model in the middle price range — around $60 — will be sufficient for your use.

Reasons for Keeping Your Dental Implants Clean

As we mentioned previously, there is the perception that it can be difficult to keep dental implants clean. In fact, many patients can find the process intimidating, and they might even avoid it altogether. The reality is that keeping your dental implants clean is no more difficult than keeping your natural teeth clean. The reasons for doing so are also much the same as well.

While the fact that food collects around your dental implants is not an uncommon occurrence, some people may experience more difficulty than others. Another possibility is that you might experience more issues with food getting stuck in one implant but not another. One reason for this difference could be because of the natural way that your teeth fit together in your mouth.

If food gets stuck to your dental implants or near the gumline, it could cause your gum to become inflamed and red. If they aren’t removed promptly, this food can lead to your gums becoming infected due to an increase in the bacteria. Not only does the collected food introduce bacteria of its own, but it can also lead to an increase in the number of bacteria that your dental implant is exposed to. This can overwhelm your body’s defenses and quickly lead to an infection.

Food that is stuck between your dental implants and your gums can also lead to impaction. This potentially more serious condition generally occurs when food debris or particles are forcefully wedged in those spaces. You’ll usually notice more inflammation and pain if there is food impacted. Also, when you bite onto the dental implant that’s affected, you’ll experience more pain. Even worse, the food will continue to be forced more firmly into the space.

What Should You Do if You Have Food Stuck in Your Dental Implant?

If you have food stuck in your dental implant and you aren’t able to remove it using dental floss, toothbrushing or an oral irrigator, it’s time for you to seek out professional care. If you are experiencing pain, inflammation and/or redness in the gum area surrounding your dental implant, this also warrants a visit to your dentist. It’s important not to put off making an appointment with your dentist if you are having this kind of issue with your dental implant. Also, if you are experiencing any kind of pain, discomfort or change in how the dental implant feels, you need to make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible.

Like most other health issues, pain, inflammation, and swelling in the area near your dental implant is a condition that will only worsen over time. Quick intervention by your dental professional can not only relieve you of your pain and discomfort; it can help prevent the failure of your dental implant.

At Dupont Dental, your comfort and health is our top priority. We work closely with you to determine the best options for oral health to meet your needs. We encourage you to keep all your scheduled appointments so we can find and address any issues that might arise before they get worse. Contact us today if you need any assistance with your dental implants or if you have any other dental health issues.

 

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Dental Caps or Crowns: An Overview

A dental cap — sometimes also referred to as a dental crown — is a fixed prosthetic device that completely encircles or caps a tooth or a dental implant. Unlike removable dentures, a dental cap is designed to be a permanent solution to a dental issue. It is cemented into place by your dentist and can only be removed by your dentist as well.

Benefits of Using a Dental Cap

A dental cap can be used to improve both the way a tooth looks and its functionality. It can also help protect a tooth from further decay. A tooth that has become misshapen or discolored can be covered up with a dental crown so that it matches the teeth surrounding it. Even broken or chipped teeth can sometimes be treated by using a dental cap. Doing so helps strengthen the tooth in addition to giving it a more uniform appearance.

Another benefit of using a dental crown is that its placement requires fewer appointments — and therefore less time — for you to be at your dentist’s office when compared to removable dentures, prostheses supported by implants and dental bridges. Though it depends on the type of crown and your individual situation, in most cases, the procedure takes between two and four visits.

A third benefit that patients have expressed about dental caps is that they take less time to get used to than other dental devices such as dental bridges and removable dentures. Their small size and placement contribute to the feeling that patients experience with most getting used to a dental crown in about one to four weeks.

Are You a Candidate for a Dental Cap?

While your dentist is the best one to make the choice regarding your need for a dental cap, the following conditions are often present when people have dental crowns:

  • A large filling that needs replacement often weakens the tooth further once it is removed. A dental cap not only makes the tooth more aesthetically pleasing, it also increases its strength.
  • A tooth that has been broken or fractured to the point where it can no longer be fixed using a filling is often a good candidate for a dental cap. Trauma to the area or progressive dental decay are two common ways that a tooth becomes fractured or broken.
  • If your tooth has experienced advanced tooth destruction in the form of a large cavity that threatens the integrity of the tooth itself, a dental crown can provide the added strength that the tooth needs. In these cases, the tooth is first filled before being fitted with a dental cap.

How Long Can Dental Caps Last?

As with other types of dental devices, the key to longevity is good oral care and regular visits to the dentist. Taken care of properly, you can expect a dental crown to last for about 15 years or even longer.

At Dupont Dental, we carefully assess your needs to determine the best strategy for your dental issues. Schedule an appointment with us today by giving us a call!

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What You Need to Know About Today’s Partial Dentures

Most people have heard of dentures as a way of addressing the issue of missing teeth. That, however, might be the extent of your knowledge. It’s important to know that there are a number of different types of dentures and not all of them are appropriate for every situation. In fact, full dentures are only a solution if you have no more healthy teeth remaining on either your upper or lower arch.

Are Dentures a Good Choice for You?

If you still have healthy teeth, then a partial denture might be an option for you. Another possibility could be a dental implant but these tend to be more costly than partial dentures. It’s important to speak to your dentist about your options as well as your concerns — including cost — in regards to your dental needs.

Partial Denture Options

Today’s partial dentures offer solutions for nearly any dental issue imaginable. While the best one for your particular situation will be decided upon by you and your dentist, below are some possibilities:

  • Removable partial denture with metal clasps: This is the most common kind of partial denture. It’s made up of a combination of replacement teeth that sit on a cast metal frame that’s rigid. Cast metal clasps help the partial dentures attach to your existing teeth. Cared for properly, these dentures can last for a number of years.
  • Fixed bridge: A fixed bridge option is an ideal solution if you have one or two missing teeth that are bracketed by healthy teeth on either side. It’s made up of crowns on either end of the partial denture with the replacements teeth — called pontics — in between them. A fixed bridge stays in your mouth all the time and is cared for like your natural teeth.
  • Flexible partial dentures: These partial dentures are designed of a plastic that is heat sensitive and thin. This can make them more comfortable to wear as well as more natural to look at. Instead of cast metal clasps, a flexible partial denture has gum colored clasps that are thin and that fit around your teeth’s natural places. It might be a good solution if you find other types of partial dentures to be uncomfortable.
  • Fixed bridge supported by dental implants: A traditional fixed bridge is a great option for many people but if you are missing too many teeth, a fixed bridge that’s supported by dental implants could be the answer. Another reason why this option might be chosen is that it doesn’t involve altering your existing teeth. Instead, dental implants are placed in your mouth to both encourage the increased growth of your jaw bone and to provide a support system for your fixed bridge. A fixed bridge supported by dental implants is also a great option for people that are missing too many teeth for a traditional fixed bridge. It also stays in your mouth permanently and is cared for like your other teeth.

At Dupont Dental, we pride ourselves on our personalized approach to dental care. After a careful consultation, we’ll recommend the partial denture options that suit you best. Contact us today for more information.

 

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5 Truths Your Dentist Wishes You Didn’t Know About Cosmetic Dentistry

The field of dentistry is populated by a number of different types of generalists and specialists. If you’re like most people, you tend to stick with a general dentist when it comes to your regular cleanings and checkups. If so, you can bet that the following five truths are ones that your dentist wishes that you didn’t know about in terms of cosmetic dentistry.

1. Cosmetic dentistry focuses on appearances

General dentistry focuses on oral health and hygiene while cosmetic dentistry focuses on appearances. While a patient might be more concerned about how their smile looks, this often cannot be achieved without healthy teeth. General dentistry and cosmetic dentistry are complimentary services instead of being opposing ones.

2. Teeth whitening doesn’t mean your teeth are clean

Having a pearly white smile is the goal for nearly everyone who visits the dentist. Not everyone understands the link that exists between a healthy smile and teeth that are white. Just because you visit a dentist for a session of teeth whitening doesn’t mean that your teeth are also clean and that you can forgo your regular dental checkup. In fact, numerous germs, acids and bacteria can remain in your mouth and on your gums after you’ve had your teeth whitened.

3. Bonding is a temporary fix

If you visit your dentist looking for solutions to address injuries to your teeth or chips, bonding is often an option. While it’s not possible to determine the validity of bonding for your particular situation until you undergo a complete examination of the problem, bonding is simple and relatively inexpensive. Bonding is a temporary solution because the material used can wear down over time.

4. Cosmetic dentistry is an investment

Cosmetic dentistry is the glamorous cousin to general dentistry’s focus on health. That being said, cosmetic dentistry solutions are often considered an investment in the patient’s smile. This is likely to transfer to better overall oral health. The reasons for this are often twofold. Firstly, being vigilant about regular dental checkups, flossing and brushing help maintain the beautiful results that cosmetic dentistry provides. Secondly, paying particular attention to your oral health can reduce the costs that you might incur in the future if your cosmetic work fails because of a lack of hygiene.

5. Protecting your tooth enamel is important

Your teeth’s enamel plays a vital role in their health. Unfortunately, it can often crack and chip which then exposes the rest of that tooth to cavity-forming bacteria and acids. Tooth enamel isn’t a living tissue so it doesn’t heal on its own. The shaping of your tooth enamel can help improve the appearance of your smile as well as your bite. It can also protect your teeth from further damage from substances.

At Dupont Dental, we provide a range of dental services — both preventative and cosmetic — that focus on providing our patients with the healthiest and most appealing smile. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!

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What You Need to Know About Periodontal Disease and Treatment Options

Periodontal disease is an infection of the tooth’s structures. These include the ligaments, gums, bone and tissues that are necessary for good oral health. Bleeding and swollen gums are early signs of gums that have been infected with bacteria. According to a study by researchers at the United States National Institutes of Health (NIH) performed in 1999, about half of Americans over the age of 30 experience bleeding gums. What’s even more surprising is the fact that many people think this occurrence is normal.

Stages of Gum Disease

In fact, the presence of bleeding and swollen gums is a sign that you could have the first stage of periodontal disease, gingivitis. This is caused by a buildup of plaque that occurs at the gum line. Plaque is a sticky substance that can form on the teeth. If plaque isn’t removed regularly, the body’s immune system releases substances that are an attempt to oust the bacteria. This reaction from your body is what causes the bleeding and swollen gums that mark gingivitis. It’s at this earliest stage that gum disease can most easily be reversed.

Periodontitis is the second stage of gum disease. It is at this stage that the bones, tissues and fibers that support your teeth are damaged. Periodontitis is marked by pockets that form below the gum line. Though gum disease cannot be reversed at this stage, there is much that a dentist can do for a patient with periodontitis. Improved oral care at home performed by the patient, as well as specialized dental treatment, can often help reduce further damage.

The final stage of gum disease is advanced periodontitis. It is at this late stage that the other, supporting structures of the teeth are damaged. These bones, ligaments and fibers are destroyed which can lead to your teeth becoming loose or shifting in your mouth. Not only can this adversely affect your bite, it can also require that those teeth be removed.

Treatments for Periodontal Disease

For people who have gingivitis, there is still hope of reversing the disease. With good daily oral care at home in the form of proper brushing and flossing — as well as regular professional dental cleanings — gingivitis can be reversed.

Once gum disease reaches the periodontitis stage, though, professional intervention is necessary in order to save the teeth. Scaling and root planing is a treatment that is performed at the dentist office to scrape and remove the tartar and plaque from the root surfaces and the teeth. Afterward, these surfaces are smoothed to remove any roughness that can provide a welcoming place for bacteria to settle and flourish. Scaling and root planing is a procedure that could take more than one dentist visit to finish. Eventually, the gums heal and then reattach to the clean surfaces of your teeth.

There are other treatments available for advanced gum disease. Have you had a regular cleaning at Dupont Dental lately? Contact us today to make an appointment and to obtain an evaluation of your oral health!

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Christopher Banks and Zach Link

Christopher Banks, a D.C.-area dentist, Fixes Gay Bashing Victim’s Teeth for Free

Often when we see a heartbreaking news story we think, “I wish there was something I could do.” After finding out the details of Zach Link and his partner’s violent assault, Christopher Banks, a D.C. area dentist did more than just wish. He sprang into action.

On April 15, Zach Link and his partner were viciously attacked on U Street in D.C. at around 12:30 a.m. After being verbally assaulted and repeatedly punched and kicked in the face, Mr. Link discovered that his smile was literally shattered. His broken teeth served as a constant reminder of his experience, affecting him more mentally and emotionally than he first wanted to admit. A friend connected Mr. Link with Dr. Christopher Banks of Capital Cosmetic Dentistry who not only agreed to consult with him on repairing his broken teeth, but did so free of charge.

In a statement to WJLA TV, Dr. Banks said:

Without knowing the depth, breadth, and expense of Zach’s injuries, I reached out and offered full care because we are all members of a powerful, loving LGBT community before anything else,” Banks said in a statement. “It is through these acts of love in the face of hate that we will persist, thrive, and succeed in showing the world we want to be ’one.’

He later posted on Facebook to Mr. Link’s page, “Having you in the office today was a reminder of why I became a dentist in the first place. Being able to restore your smile has brought me such great joy.”

While the assault itself is still under investigation, Dr. Banks has successfully helped erase its lasting physical impact by restoring Mr. Link’s teeth to their original form. He has also reminded a community what it means to reach out in a time of need.

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snoring and oral appliances

Turn to Dupont Dental for Snoring and Oral Appliances Help

Snoring used to be looked upon as nothing more than a nuisance that caused spouses to shake their loved one awake so they could reposition themselves and everyone could then get a good night sleep. Thanks to fairly recent research though it’s now evident that snoring is far from the benign occurrence that everyone thought it was. Of the estimated 60 million Americans who snore, about 18 million of them also suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

What Exactly is Snoring?

To better understand snoring, OSA and its effects on a person, it’s important to define snoring accurately. Snoring occurs when your breathing is obstructed in some manner as you sleep. It results in the pharyngeal tissue vibrating as you breath. This obstruction could be the result of various factors including increased fat deposits caused by obesity. When a person takes a sedative or drinks alcohol before going to sleep, an increase in snoring could result. This is because the pharyngeal airway collapses more.

Another common cause of snoring is when the tongue becomes too relaxed. If this is the cause of snoring, it can be corrected easily by wearing an oral appliance. This device works by moving both the tongue and the lower jaw forward enough so that the airway stays open while the person is sleeping.

Perceptions Slowly Change

Until recently, it was thought that snoring was limited to being a social problem. Having a partner who snores can have a serious and negative impact on that person’s well-being. In addition to leading to daytime fatigue, having a partner who snores could result in the couple having separate bedrooms. It can also have a negative effect on the health of the bed partner. A recent report by USA Today found that of those couples who were aged 40 and older, 27 percent slept in separate spaces. It’s expected that as obesity in the population increases, so will the percentage of couples who must deal with snoring.

Snoring and Health Risks

Instead of being solely a social problem that largely affects only those around them, the person who snores is also at risk of side effects from OSA. These include heart attack, stroke, heart disease, high blood pressure, heart arrhythmias and even death. If you are a snorer, it’s important to seek out care from a dentist with experience in the oral appliances that can put a stop to obstructive sleep apnea.

How Oral Appliances Can Help

While the health risks associated with snoring are scary, there are effective snoring remedies that can help. Two devices that are effective are a tongue retaining mouthpiece and a mandibular advancement device (MAD). The tongue retaining mouthpiece keeps the tongue from relaxing over the airway while the MAD moves the jaw forward to keep the airway open.

Working closely with your physician is the key to determining the right snoring solutions for your sleep apnea. At Dupont Dental, we custom design these oral devices, so they work comfortably and effectively. Contact us today to schedule an appointment or for more information.

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fluoride vs antiseptic mouthwash

Fluoride vs Antiseptic Mouthwash – Who Wins and Why?

Mouthwash is an element of dental care that doesn’t seem to have the same level of respect as some others. In fact, about 52 percent of Americans don’t realize that using mouthwash provides valuable benefits to both their dental and overall health. While it’s true that brushing and flossing are arguably the most important steps you can take to care for your teeth at home, it’s highly recommended that you add the use of mouthwash to your daily routine.

What’s the Best Mouthwash for You?

With the array of mouth rinse options available today, it can be difficult to know which one is the right one for you. The list below can help you sort out the ones that are available to help any dental issues or health concerns you might have.

Bad Breath

Bad breath is often a reason why people might consider using mouthwash. If that is your primary reason, and you don’t have significant tooth decay or gum disease, the best mouthwash for you will be one that contains zinc and chlorine. This is because these ingredients help defuse the sulfur compounds that cause foul smells.

Also, some mouth rinses contain cetyl pyridinium, a germicide that helps fight gum disease while also helping to fight plaque. These tend to taste better than antibacterial mouthwashes.

Gum Disease

If you are also concerned about fighting gingivitis — perhaps better known as the first stage of gum disease — as well as bad breath, it’s better to look for an antibacterial mouthwash that contains certain ingredients. Products that contain methyl salicylate, eucalyptol, thymol, and menthol are the only ones that have earned the Seal of Acceptance from the American Dental Association (ADA) because of their effectiveness when it comes to reducing plaque and gum disease. In fact, studies have shown that using an antibacterial mouth rinse could slash the number of bacteria in your mouth by 75 percent on average.

Periodontitis

If you have periodontitis, it’s likely that you’ll need a prescription mouthwash. Periodontitis occurs when gum disease has advanced to a serious infection. This infection destroys the bone that provides the support that teeth need to be healthy and functional.

A prescription mouthwash contains chlorhexidine as its active ingredient. Chlorhexidine has been proven to have greater antibacterial properties than the ingredients that are found in mouthwash brands that can be purchased over the counter. In addition to the fact that most prescription mouthwashes contain alcohol, the chlorhexidine they also contain can stain your teeth brown. For this reason, prescription mouthwashes require close monitoring by a dentist.

To get the best results out of using mouthwash, it’s important to know about the health of your mouth. By visiting your dentist as recommended, you have a regular assessment of your oral health and can choose your mouthwash accordingly. At Dupont Dental, we can perform a thorough dental checkup and make a recommendation regarding the best mouthwash for you. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!

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all about tooth decay

All About Tooth Decay

Dentists in Washington D.C and other places often talk about tooth decay. You know that tooth decay isn’t a good thing, but what exactly is tooth decay? What causes it, and what treatments are available to treat tooth decay?

What is Tooth Decay?

Tooth decay is a general term that refers to degradation of one or more parts of the tooth. Tooth decay can lead to holes in the tooth, cracks, and chipping. Left untreated, tooth decay can also lead to gum disease, and even more severe health issues, such as heart disease. There’s no reason to let tooth decay continue to such extremes, however. With regular dental visits, no one has to experience tooth decay.

What Causes Tooth Decay?

The underlying cause of tooth decay is bacteria. Oral bacteria make acid that constantly eats away at the teeth. The bacteria comes from plaque, a sticky substance that forms on the surface of the teeth. You can feel plaque buildup when you run your tongue over your mouth and detect a filmy substance. When you brush away plaque, that filmy feeling is gone.

Bacteria growth is accelerated when you eat sugary foods or drink sugar-laden beverages. It’s further accelerated when you don’t brush and floss your teeth enough.

The filmy substance called plaque can harden over time, making it impossible to brush away simply. When plaque hardens, only a dental professional can remove it. In the meantime, the acid from the bacteria in plaque continues to eat away at the teeth. This is just one reason why it’s so important to have regular dental visits.

What Parts of the Tooth Can Be Affected by Tooth Decay?

The Tooth is made up of several different layers. The surface of the tooth is made up of enamel. It serves as a protective outer layer. The next layer is called dentin. When enamel is eroded due to tooth decay, the dentin begins to be affected, causing what you know as a toothache. The center of the tooth is referred to as the pulp. The pulp contains the nerve endings and blood vessels that keep the tooth alive. All of these parts are susceptible to tooth decay.

Who Can Get Tooth Decay?

Tooth decay can affect people of all ages, including children. In fact, it’s recommended that children have their first dentist visit even before the first tooth erupts to the surface since tooth decay can affect teeth beneath the gum line.

How is Tooth Decay Treated?

The first line of defense against tooth decay is proper oral hygiene at home. Your dentist can guide you as to the latest recommended guidelines for brushing, flossing and rinsing. If you do develop tooth decay, there are many options for treatment, depending on the severity of the problem. These include filling cavities, fluoride treatments, bonding, extraction, dental implants and root canals. Some of these treatments are serious and invasive, while others are less severe.

Tooth decay doesn’t have to get to a stage where extraction and implants are necessary. Your dentist in Washington, D.C. can help you keep tooth decay from ever becoming an issue. Contact us today to book your appointment!

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