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4 Dental Terms You Should Know
4 Dental Terms You Should Know

For a lot of us, medical terms seem to be something we only think about sometimes, and quite often do not care to understand. However, your oral health directly impacts your overall health, so it’s important that you get to know terms and conditions that could have long-term effects. Here are a few of the top medical terms you should learn more about:

Plaque

Plaque is a sticky, colorless, deposit of bacteria that builds up on your teeth. Plaque can cause tooth decay and various gum diseases. When you eat, the bacteria in plaque process sugars into acid that eats away at the tooth enamel, this process can lead to holes in your teeth (cavities).

Fighting against Plaque

It is imperative to brush your teeth twice a day to remove plaque and protect the tooth enamel from decay. Using floss will help remove the plaque from places your toothbrush cannot penetrate. Rinsing with clean water or mouthwash also helps to fight plaque buildup. Visiting your dentist will also help keep plaque at bay.

Tartar

Tartar is what happens when plaque isn’t removed daily. Tartar is a rough and solid material full of millions of bacteria that forms above the gum line. Tartar requires special tools to remove and may lead to gum diseases and even heart disease.

Preventing Tartar

Brushing regularly is the best way to prevent tartar; studies have shown that an electronic toothbrush will help prevent tartar more effectively than manual toothbrushes. Flossing is also imperative in the fight against tartar, while using antiseptic mouthwash will help kill the bacteria that cause plaque in the first place.

Gingivitis

We see this term in every Listerine and Colgate toothpaste ad, but do you really know what it is? Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums and is usually caused by plaque build-up. If plaque isn’t removed daily, it can irritate the gums, leading to gingivitis. Gingivitis is the initial stage of gum disease, and left untreated could lead to long-term oral health complications.

How Do I Know if I Have Gingivitis?

Signs of gingivitis include red and swollen gums. You may also notice bleeding when you brush.

Periodontitis

Periodontitis is a serious stage of gum disease. While Gingivitis refers to inflammation of the gums, periodontitis usually refers to dental bone loss and tissue damage. With Periodontitis, the gum pulls away from the teeth, creating pockets of open space where bacteria accumulate. Tooth loss is also prevalent with periodontitis. Periodontitis causes irreversible oral health damages.

Diagnosing Periodontitis

A dentist will help determine whether a patient has gingivitis or periodontitis. It is important to diagnose periodontitis sooner rather than later.

While these conditions may have lasting effects on your overall health, preventing them can be quite easy. It is important to brush twice daily, floss, and use mouthwash to prevent plaque and tartar build-up. Visiting your dentist regularly will also prevent these diseases from having long-term effects. If it is time for your annual or semi-annual visit, call El Portal Dental Group in Merced, California today at (209) 385-1479, or schedule your appointment online!