At Stephen Ratcliff Family & Cosmetic Dentistry, our goal is preventing dental problems and keeping our patient’s smiles healthy and beautiful. We provide general and family dentistry at our Arlington dental practice.
Adult Dental Health
As a general and family dental office, we have been treating patients of all ages since 1990.
An interesting (and sad) thing we have noticed throughout the years is that many parents neglect their own oral health. Though they vigilantly keep up with their children’s dental visits and cleanings, for some reason, they fail to pay the same attention to their own dental needs.
How Do You Keep Your Smile Healthy Throughout Your Life?
Let’s discuss adult dental needs. Once you are past the cavity-prone childhood and adolescent years, gum health becomes crucial.
Gum Disease is the #1 Cause of Tooth Loss in Adults
Did you know that 47% of U.S. adults have gum disease? In adults, periodontitis (advanced gum disease) is the most common cause of tooth loss. Fortunately, gum disease can be reversed if you catch it in its early stages.
The first stage of gum disease is called gingivitis. The fundamental symptoms of gingivitis include red or swollen gums. If your gums hurt when brush or floss, it could be a sign. You may also notice offensive breath at times. (Others may notice it as well!) Gingivitis is oftentimes caused bacteria on the teeth and along the gum line. The most common treatment is increased brushing and flossing in addition to more frequent dentist appointments. It’s a good idea to visit your dentist every 3 months for deep cleanings and professional care. Your dentist may also prescribe a fluoride rinse.
Early Stage Periodontal Disease
When the infection spreads beneath your gums it allows the destructive bacteria to start attacking the bone holding your teeth in place. This may result in redness and swelling of the gums, worsening breath and intermittent bleeding. Early stage periodontal disease can’t be fully reversed, but your dentist can develop a treatment plan to prohibit it from getting worse.
Moderate Periodontal Disease
At this stage, you are at risk of losing teeth. To treat it at this stage, your dentist will need to remove plaque from below the gum line (this same treatment may also be used with early stage periodontal disease) in order to help halt the infection. Since your gums are slowly detaching from your teeth at this stage, surgery can reshape your gums and close the pockets between your gums and teeth. With excellent self-care and one of our skilled oral hygienists at your side, you can still save your teeth.
Advanced Periodontal Disease
The concluding stage of periodontitis requires extensive treatment. Your dentist may recommend surgery to prevent tooth loss. Flap surgery is common for this stage and involves cleaning the actual roots of your teeth by scrubbing behind your gums. Your dentist may also smooth or reshape your damaged bone to prevent bacteria from collecting.
Why Do You Need Regular Dental Cleanings?
With twice-yearly dental exams and professional cleanings, you can prevent early stage gum disease from advancing to the dangerous stages. During profession dental deep cleanings, our hygienists thoroughly remove the plaque and tartar above and below the gumline. By scaling and planing, they smooth areas to make it more difficult for bacteria to accumulate.
Why Oral Cancer Screenings are Essential
During dental examinations at Stephen Ratcliff Family & Cosmetic Dentistry, Dr. Ratcliff look for signs of oral cancer. Oral cancers are cancers in the tongue, mouth, lips, jaw, and throat. Many individuals don’t realize the seriousness of oral cancer.
Consider this grave news from the Oral Cancer Foundation:
When found at early stages of development, oral cancers can have an 80 to 90% survival rate. Unfortunately at this time, the majority are found as late stage cancers, and this accounts for the very high death rate of about 43% at five years from diagnosis
When your dentist performs an oral cancer screening during your dental examination, he/she will look for red or white spots, bleeding, lumps, difficulty swallowing, loose teeth, any color changes, and mouth sores. Is is important to tell your dentist if your bite has changed, if you have sores that won’t heal, and prolonged hoarseness. An earache in only one ear can also be an indicator.
Having any of these symptoms does not mean you have oral cancer, as they can be caused by other conditions. However, if your dentist does something unusual, he/she may order additional tests or refer you to a medical doctor for further diagnosis and treatment if required.
Schedule an Exam and Cleaning Today
We are passionate about preventative dentistry to keep your smile healthy and beautiful. If you are due for a cleaning, call us today to schedule.
Ask Us About Financing
If you don’t have dental insurance, ask us about dental financing options. Remember, it is far less pricey to prevent dental problems than to treat them after they have become severe.