A Healthy Mouth
Healthy habits, including brushing and flossing, can keep your teeth and gums healthy. If your teeth and gums are not healthy it can lead to pain and tooth loss. If you do wind up having some pain in your teeth and you have not yet been able to go to a dentist, there are some helpful tips in the video above "10 Ways to Kill a Toothache". If you have tooth/mouth pain, make sure to go to a dentist as soon as you can.
Plaque is a sticky substance that forms on your teeth. It forms from bacteria and foods in our mouths. When plaque stays on your teeth too long, it can lead to tooth decay (softening of the protective layer of enamel) and gum disease. Brushing and flossing help get plaque off your teeth so your mouth can stay healthy. Learn more in the video above "What Causes Cavities?" Taking care of your teeth and gums is especially important if you have diabetes or are pregnant.
When plaque is not removed it hardens over time into another substance called tartar and collects above your gums. Tartar makes it more difficult to brush and clean between your teeth. Your gums become red and swollen, and bleed easily—signs of unhealthy or inflamed gums, called gingivitis.
When gingivitis is not treated, it can advance to gum disease called periodontitis. In periodontitis, the gums pull away from the teeth and form spaces, called pockets, which slowly become infected. This infection can last a long time. Your body fights the bacteria as the plaque spreads and grows below the gum line. Both the bacteria and your body’s response to this infection start to break down the bone and the tissue that hold the teeth in place. If periodontitis is not treated, the gums, bones, and tissue that support the teeth are destroyed. Teeth may become loose and might need to be removed. If you have periodontitis, your dentist may send you to a periodontist, an expert in treating gum disease.
Need a Doctor?
Sometimes it is hard to decide if you should see a doctor.
If you want to see a doctor, you have to make an appointment. You may also need to take some time off from work. Many people think it is okay to take medicine they have at home. Taking medicine you have may not always help. It might even be dangerous. So how do you know if you really need to see a doctor right away, or if you can wait? Look for these common signs and symptoms:
You have trouble breathing.
You have a bad cough lasting more than a few weeks.
You are dehydrated. This means that your body does not have enough liquids to keep working well.
You feel shaky and tired all of the time.
You have a high fever or chills.
You have a lot of pain which gets in the way of your every day activities.
You recently lost or gained a lot of weight without wanting to.
You cannot sleep at night.
These symptoms can be cause for concern when they have lasted for more than a few weeks or days. You can wait to see a doctor if you have something minor like a runny nose or a small cut on your arm. Things like this can heal themselves in a few days. However, if any of your signs and symptoms last a long time, it is always good to see a doctor.
Doctor Visit Vocabulary