That’s right; it’s TIME to GIVE your TEETH some thought. We recently recognized the Halloween Holiday so I’m pretty sure a lot of us have had chocolate, sugar or candy of some type.
I bet every dentist in Palm Harbor, Tampa, or Clearwater love Halloween, but probably wouldn’t admit it out loud. Oh, wait I seem to recall a story in the news that a dentist in the Palm Harbor, Florida or surrounding area was buying children’s candy back for cash. Sooooooo, I guess there is ONE dentist who isn’t admitting to liking Halloween.
But just because we get bombarded with CANDY and CHOCOLATES and TREATS, (oh my), on the last day of October doesn’t mean we have to neglect our dental hygiene or be more prone to cavities. Just like a car needs maintenance and preventive up-keep to assure it operates and runs well: your teeth and gums require maintenance and care to prevent a breakdown resulting in an unhealthy mouth. Although tooth enamel is hard with a shell like compound, one of enamel’s biggest destroyers is a very soft substance known as plaque.
Plaque develops on teeth daily. It can be a composition of bacteria, left over food particles, saliva and other agents; but if it’s not removed from the enamel and at the gum level, plaque can be a tooth’s worst enemy. Grossly put, plaque is all sorts of creepy bacteria, wiggling and expanding and moving around.
If the plaque sits on the enamel and is not removed by brushing or flossing, what occurs is similar to a drop of acid being poured on to a heavy plastic milk crate. It eats the plastic, eroding it, creating deformities. Plaque works a little slower than acid, but the damage can be just as grave. If plaque sits at the base of the tooth that is closest to the gum tissue and is left undisturbed for a period of time, once it is removed, it can leave white blotchy spots on the tooth where it sat. Sometimes the spot looks like a crescent moon shape.
Once the tooth shows those white or sometimes yellow blotches it indicates that the enamel has been eroded and the second layer of tooth is or may be exposed. Those exposed areas are more susceptible to tooth decay and more sensitive to hot, cold or both.
Also if plaque is not removed at the gum line or gum tissue, it makes the gums highly inflamed. The gums can show inflammation by changing colors. If they look very red and bleed easily, that’s a sign of inflammation. If they become puffy or swollen, that’s a sign of inflammation, sometimes even infection.
Plaque left at the gum line helps propagate the bacteria responsible for periodontal disease. There are stages to periodontal disease, mild, moderate and advanced. I think we can all concur that none of us if given a choice would look forward to gum surgery.
Soooooo, just remember as you’re still eating the last of the Halloween candy, the candy that is the least favorite of anybody’s. Yeh, you know what I’m talking about. All the good stuff is definitely gone by now. You’re down to the candy corn, Mary Jane’s and other cruddy candy.
Remember that you might want to brush a little longer or more often and perhaps floss an extra time just to make sure you get all the sugary sweet candy and plaque off those pearly whites. That way you can have a healthy smile for next Halloween, and not end up looking like a Jack-o-Lantern with a missing tooth grin.
Paul L. Caputo, DDS3490 E Lake Rd S Suite A