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Patient Education 2018-05-16T16:58:00+00:00

Patient Education

Dr. Nicole M. Paxson and her team pledge to uphold her mission statement: Our practice is committed to providing the highest quality dental experience in order to help every patient in our community achieve and maintain lifelong dental health.

Part of realizing that mission is embracing technological advances in dentistry and educating patients on how to improve their oral health.

The complex devices all around us — from long-range satellite links in our cars and offices to powerful computers in our hand-held gadgets — prove beyond a doubt that we live in a technology-driven world. In the field of dentistry, technology is constantly changing the way diseases are diagnosed, routine procedures are performed, and illnesses are prevented.

Dr. Paxson embraces the technology that offers real benefits for her patients, including:

Dental Implants

Tooth replacement took a giant leap forward with the widespread use of dental implants — today’s preferred method of replacing teeth. Dental implants are small titanium posts that replace the root part of your missing tooth. A realistic dental crown is then attached to the implant for a replacement tooth that looks and feels exactly like what nature gave you.

Digital X-Rays

Diagnostic x-rays have long been invaluable to dentistry. The emergence of digital technology in the past decade, however, has made dental x-rays safer and even more useful. Digital technology cuts radiation exposure to patients by as much as 90% over traditional x-rays. And there are other advantages, including the elimination of waiting time for pictures to develop and sharper images that can be enhanced to show detail.

Intra-Oral Cameras

A picture is worth plenty when it comes to helping you understand your dental examination, diagnosis, and treatment. With these tiny cameras, you can see what the dentist sees, on a small chair-side monitor. The images of your teeth can be saved as stills or video — or even printed out — so you can see exactly what’s happening in your mouth.

Our staff is always happy to help you improve your brushing skills. If you want pointers and tips for your unique needs, just let us know during your regular appointment. For all patients, Dr. Paxson recommends a small-headed, soft-bristled toothbrush and a pea-sized dab of fluoride toothpaste.

Here are some tips for the brushing process:
  1. Hold the bristles gently against the outside of your top teeth, near the gum line, at about a 45-degree angle upward. Sweep the brush gently back and forth over teeth and gums in soft strokes — or, if you prefer, use an elliptical (circular) motion to clean the teeth. Be sure to clean the spaces between teeth. You can use a sweeping motion to brush food particles away from the gums. When you have done one brush-width, move to the adjacent area of your teeth and repeat. Keep going until you have finished cleaning the outside of the whole top row of teeth.
  2. Move to the bottom teeth. Repeat the procedure, tilting the brush down toward the gum line at about 45 degrees. Finish cleaning the outside of the bottom teeth.
  3. Go on to the inside of the top teeth. Tilting the bristles up toward the gums, clean the inside of the top teeth with gentle but thorough strokes. Move to the inside of the bottom teeth. Tilt the brush down and repeat the procedure.
  4. Now it’s time for the chewing surfaces: Holding the bristles flat against the molars, clean the ridges and valleys of the back teeth. Do this for all the top and bottom teeth.
  5. Finally, brush your tongue gently to remove bacteria and freshen breath.
The short answer: Yes, at least once a day. Flossing is probably your single most important weapon against plaque, the clingy bacterial biofilm that sticks to the surfaces of your teeth. Plaque is the principal cause of tooth decay; but it is also the cause of periodontitis (gum disease), bad breath, and other maladies. Brushing is a good start, but flossing removes plaque in places a brush can’t reach, like the small gaps between teeth and under the gums. It also polishes tooth surfaces and decreases the risk of gum disease.

Some people may think they don’t have time to floss, but once you get the hang of it, flossing only takes few minutes. If you are going to floss only once a day, it’s best to do it at night just before going to sleep. That’s because there is less saliva present in your mouth when you are sleeping, so plaque is more concentrated and potentially more harmful.

I’m glad you asked! Flossing is probably your single most important weapon against plaque, the clingy bacterial biofilm that sticks to the surfaces of your teeth. Plaque is the principal cause of tooth decay; but it is also the cause of periodontitis (gum disease), bad breath, and other maladies. Brushing is a good start, but flossing removes plaque in places a brush can’t reach, like the small gaps between teeth and under the gums. It also polishes tooth surfaces and decreases the risk of gum disease.

Dr. Paxson recommends the following steps to get the most out of the time you spend flossing.
  1. Cut off a piece of floss about 18 inches long.
    • Wind it around the middle finger of both hands leaving a gap of around 3 or 4 inches. You will now be able to use different combinations of your thumbs and index fingers to correctly position the floss between your teeth for all areas of your mouth.
  2. Relax your lips and cheeks.
    • The most common mistake people make while flossing is that they tighten their lips and cheeks making it impossible to get their fingers into the mouth.
  3. Guide the floss gently into the space between your teeth.
    • Even if the gap is tight, try not to snap the floss into your gums as you’re inserting it.
    • A side-to-side sawing motion is good to use here, but only when slipping the floss gently between the teeth.
  4. There are two sides to each space between your teeth and you must floss each side separately so as not to injure the triangle of gum tissue between your teeth.
    • Run the floss up and down the surface of the tooth, making sure you are going down to the gum line and then up to the highest contact point between the teeth.
    • Apply pressure with your fingers away from the gum triangle, letting it curve around the side of the tooth forming the letter “C” with the floss.
    • You want your fingers as close to the front and back of the tooth as possible so both fingers move in harmony up and down until you hear a squeaky clean sound. This is easier with unwaxed floss.
    • The smaller the amount of floss between your fingers, the more control you have flossing.
  5. Next, move your fingers to the top contact area between the teeth and slide across to the other side of the space.
    • Apply pressure with your fingers in the opposite direction and repeat.
    • Slide the floss out from between the teeth. If it’s frayed or brownish, that’s good: you’re removing plaque!
    • Unwind a little new floss from the “dispenser” finger, and take up the used floss on the other finger.
    • Repeat the process on the next space between teeth. Work all around the mouth — and don’t forget back sides of the last molars.
    • Some people have trouble with flossing. If you’re one of them, don’t give up. Your teeth are too important to sacrifice.
    • If you’re having trouble with the two-finger method, here’s another way to try flossing: Just tie the same amount of floss into a big loop, place all your fingers (but not thumbs) inside the loop, and work it around your teeth with index fingers and thumbs. All the other steps remain the same.

Once you’ve got the basics down, there are a few different types of flosses you can try, including flavored, waxed, and wider width. Some people find waxed floss slides more easily into tighter gaps between teeth or restorations — but it may not make that satisfying “squeak” as it’s cleaning. Others prefer wide floss for cleaning around bridgework. But whichever way works best for you, the important thing is to keep it up!

If you still have trouble after trying this, let us know. We will help you find a method that works.

Babies can develop a form of tooth decay known as early childhood caries. This occurs when they are allowed to go to sleep with a bottle that’s filled with anything but water. The sugars in formula, milk (even breast milk) and juice can pool around the teeth and feed decay-causing bacteria. When it comes to bedtime soothing, a pacifier or bottle filled with water is safer for developing teeth — that is, until about age 3. At that point, sucking habits should be gently discouraged to prevent orthodontic problems from developing later on.
Starting at age 3, you can begin teaching your child to brush with a children’s toothbrush and no more than a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. But remember, children will need help with this important task until about age 6, when they have the fine motor skills to do an effective job themselves.

It’s also extremely important to start encouraging healthy dietary habits at this time. Your child will have less plaque buildup and decay if you place limits on soda and sugary snack consumption. As a parent, you can model this behavior to instill it in your child. After all, monkey see, monkey do! Any sugary treats that are allowed should come at mealtimes, not in between. This will ensure your child is not creating favorable conditions for oral bacteria to grow around the clock.

At your child’s regular, twice-yearly dental checkups and cleanings, topical fluoride can be applied to strengthen tooth enamel and make it more resistant to erosion and decay. If necessary, dental sealants can be applied to the back teeth (molars) to prevent food particles and bacteria from building up in the tiny grooves where a toothbrush can’t reach.

By the time children reach their teens, they should have the primary responsibility for maintaining their day-to-day dental health. But that doesn’t mean your job is done. Adults can continue to help teens make good dietary and behavioral choices. These include:

  • Drink plenty of water and avoid soda, sports drinks, and energy drinks, all of which are highly acidic.
  • Avoid tobacco and alcohol.
  • Visit the dental office regularly for cleanings and exams. This is particularly important if your teen wears braces, which can make it more difficult to keep teeth clean.

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