Saturday, May 25, 2024

October is National Dental Hygiene Month…

October 1, 2008 by  
Filed under Health, News, Weekly Columns

( October is National Dental Hygiene Month, a time for all consumers to reconsider their oral health habits, and to consider enhancing their smiles through cosmetic dentistry by visiting their dentist.

Today’s dental hygienists no longer solely clean patients’ teeth. A contemporary hygienist is responsible for detecting oral cancer, examining cracked crowns, and promoting the benefits of cosmetic dentistry to the patient before the dentist ever looks in the mouth. Dr. Catrise Austin of VIP Smiles located in New York City has a trained staff that goes the extra mile when it comes to dental hygiene and is always ready to serve not only her clients, but the community at large by speaking to the public about oral health and the importance of a beautiful smile. Dr. Austin says, “One of secrets to having a smile like the stars is to have a clean, healthy looking smile.”

Regular professional visits are important because gingivitis, the early stage of periodontal disease, is usually painless and patients may not be able to detect it on their own. “Don’t ignore the warning signs of gum disease,” says Dr. Austin. “Red, swollen or tender gums; Gums that bleed with brushing; and recurring bad breath are all key signs of gum disease. In my practice, 75% of my new patients have gum disease and didn’t have a clue until we assessed the health of their gums!”

Unlike a lot of dentists, Dr. Austin performs a 4-step gum evaluation on each and every patient in her practice.

Step 1, Dr. Austin does a thorough evaluation of each tooth checking for cavities, defective fillings, and tooth mobility.

Step 2, she checks the gum tissues for redness, swelling, abscesses, as well as for oral cancer lesions.

Step 3, x-rays are taken to detect hidden tartar and bone loss due to gum disease.

Step 4, Dr. Austin measures the spaces between your teeth and gums (these are called “pockets”) to see if the pockets are shallow, cleansable, and do not bleed upon touch (healthy) or if the pockets are deep, traps food/bacteria, and bleed upon touch (unhealthy). Based on the results of her examination, Dr. Austin is then able to make an accurate diagnosis of her patients’ gums and customize a professional gum therapy plan for that individual patient.

Fortunately, early gum disease such as gingivitis is completely reversible with professional treatment and oral home care. “Brushing frequently and most importantly flossing are the habits that I teach my patients to do at home between visits,” says Dr. Austin. “Once my patients are educated on the importance of keeping their pockets cleaned by flossing at home, I usually see a major improvement when they return for check up visits.” Visiting a dental hygienist and dentist team, every six months or as scheduled, is vital in maintaining healthy teeth and gums. If left untreated, early gum disease can lead to a more serious form of gum disease called periodontitis which can result in tooth loss and other life threatening health problems!

In addition to daily care and visiting a dentist-hygienist dental team, total oral health requires proper nutritional habits. Several foods that help build healthy teeth and gums include:

    * Dairy products provide calcium and vitamin D that strengthens teeth and bones.

    * Breads and cereals supply B vitamins for growth and iron for healthy blood, a key contributor to healthy gum tissue.

    * Fruits and vegetables contain vitamin C and other important vitamins, which are essential to maintaining healthy gum tissue.

    * Meat, fish, poultry and beans provide magnesium and zinc that strengthen teeth and bones.

If you’ve been guilty of putting off your next dental exam and professional cleaning, consider visiting your dental hygienist and dentist team during this National Dental Hygiene Month for a beautiful fall smile!

Written By Dr. Catrise Austin

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