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Dr. Gerald Regni Jr & Associates

PAIN-FREE, DECAY-FREE?

By Gerald Regni, DMD on July 13, 2013

dental floss on greenYou'd schedule a dental appointment if you have a chronic toothache, probably suspecting a cavity. However, do toothache-free mouths signal cavity-free teeth? Not necessarily, and here's why.

Decayed teeth may or may not cause a toothache, depending on the location and depth of the decay. For example, if the cavity is in the tooth enamel -the outer layer of the tooth- you probably wouldn't feel a thing. It's only after the decay continues through the enamel to the dentin-the softer, mid-layer of the tooth that lies between the enamel and the pulp-that you will start feeling the telltale toothache throb.

Catching the decay while it is on the enamel layer of your tooth or in the dentin usually ensures that any damage can be repaired, and your tooth can be saved. However, once the decay makes its way into the nerve-filled pulp at the center of the tooth, the situation gets more complicated. Depending on the degree of decay, you may need co undergo a root canal to save the tooth. If the degree is large, the tooth may need to be extracted.

Saving yourself unnecessary discomfort, aggravation and money at the dentist can be as easy as following a consistent routine of flossing daily, brushing your teeth at least twice a day. and seeing your dentist regularly for a thorough cleaning and oral examination. In many cases, we can see what you can't yet feel, and can recommend treatment plans that will address small dental issues before they become big, uncomfortable problems.

Most people appreciate the importance of brushing their teeth at least twice a day, but many fall by the wayside when it's time for daily flossing.

Cleaning your teeth properly includes cleaning between your teeth, and the best way to clean between your teeth, and the other places your toothbrush can't reach, is with flossing. Flossing removes bacterial plaque -the stuff that causes tooth decay and gum disease.

Practice the following flossing technique for best results:

  1. Break off about 18 inches of floss and wrap it around the middle finger of each hand, leaving a couple of inches of floss in-between to work with.
  2. Using your thumbs and forefingers, tighten the floss and guide it between your teeth, curving it in a "C" shape around the base of each tooth -as deep in the gum as you comfortably can. Slide the floss up and down the tooth two or three times, using a gentle rubbing motion.
  3. Move to a clean area of floss and repeat on both sides of each tooth, including the backside of the last teeth.

Don't be discouraged if at first flossing feels awkward -it will come naturally after a few tries. And please, ask us to demonstrate the proper technique, and we'd be happy to recommend different types of floss to try, to help you find your perfect kind. As well, there are alternative interdental cleaners you may find easier to manage. Simply ask us to explain your options at your next visit.

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