[caption id="attachment_66033" align="alignleft" width="400"]<img src="https:\/\/pocahontastimes.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/25\/2020\/03\/laura-and-josh-abbott-dds.jpg" alt="" width="400" height="462" class="size-full wp-image-66033" \/> Drs. Laura and Josh Abbott, DDS[\/caption]\r\n\r\nSuzanne Stewart\r\nStaff Writer\r\n\r\nOral health care is a pivotal part of taking care of the whole body. More than just brushing teeth, the entire mouth must be looked after to not only ensure healthy teeth and gums, but a healthy body, as well.\r\n\r\nJosh Abbot and his wife, Laura, are dentists at West Virginia Community Care Dental in Green Bank, and Josh said there are several easy and effective ways to care for your mouth at home.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe kind of go through the routine of the rule of twos,\u201d he said. \u201cBrush your teeth twice a day for two minutes at a time. It is recommended that you see your dentist twice a year. As far as other home care things \u2013\u00a0we encourage daily flossing, because brushing does a really good job of cleaning the outside surfaces of the teeth, but it doesn\u2019t really clean in between the teeth, so if you\u2019re not flossing on a regular basis, there\u2019s a lot of stuff that gets missed.\u201d\r\n\r\nDaily mouth washes are also helpful. Brushing with fluoride toothpaste is recommended, but it is possible to use a mouthwash with fluoride, as well.\r\n\r\nMaintaining a healthy diet is another easy way to keep a healthy mouth.\r\n\r\n\u201cPeople will say, \u2018I brush every day, I floss all the time, why do I still get cavities?\u2019\u201d Abbott said. \u201cIf you\u2019re eating sugars or a lot of starchy foods \u2013\u00a0people don\u2019t think of potatoes as a sugar-filled food, but they have a lot of starch in them. They\u2019re sticky. The carbohydrates in those get broken down and can cause cavities just the same as if you\u2019re eating candy.\u201d\r\n\r\nAlong with watching your diet, Abbott said it is important to watch how many times a day you eat.\r\n\r\n\u201cYou may not sit down and eat a large meal during the day, but if you sit down and eat a small snack every one or two hours, every time you expose your mouth to any type of sugar, there\u2019s a buffer period where your saliva tries to break that stuff down to get the pH back to neutral,\u201d he said. If you\u2019re constantly eating or drinking, you\u2019re also constantly exposing your teeth to sugars,\u201d he said. \u201cYou might brush your teeth a lot, but when you\u2019re putting that much sugar on your teeth all day long, it adds up and it makes a big difference.\u201d\r\n\r\nWhile some people try to brush after every meal, Abbott said they should give a small buffer period between a meal and brushing for the sake of their teeth.\r\n\r\n\u201cCavities are caused by a bacteria, so when that environment becomes acidic, that bacteria is able to break down the surface that it\u2019s living on which is our teeth in this case,\u201d he said. \u201cSo, for about twenty minutes, they are able to basically feed themselves. After that twenty-minute window, your body kind of self buffers, so you actually want to wait twenty minutes after you eat as a good rule of thumb.\u201d\r\n\r\nBrushing immediately will only scrub the acid into the teeth and give it a better opportunity to cause a cavity.\r\n\r\n\u201cI don\u2019t do anything special that I don\u2019t encourage my patients to do,\u201d Abbott said. \u201cI brush twice a day. I floss. If I ate something extra sticky for lunch or something like that, I might brush a third time during the day, but I don\u2019t all the time. I stick by the two rule \u2013\u00a0just like I tell my patients to do, and I make sure I drink plenty of water so that I am rinsing my teeth after I\u2019ve eaten.\u201d\r\n\r\nFor those who like to snack a lot or don\u2019t have time to brush after every meal, Abbott said sugar free chewing gum is a helpful alternative.\r\n\r\n\u201cIt helps increase the fluid in your mouth and the chewing motion actually helps scrape off some of the plaque build-up on your teeth,\u201d he said.\r\n\r\nWhen a cavity does appear, Abbott said it is important to get to the dentist as soon as possible in order to treat the problem before it gets worse.\r\n\r\n\u201cEveryone has different pain tolerances, so something might be really painful for one patient that might not be for somebody else,\u201d he said. \u201cI\u2019ve had cases where someone comes in and they have a cavity that has gotten into the nerve of the tooth and they still weren\u2019t having problems with it and it was by chance that we found it.\u201d\r\n\r\nLike skin, the tooth has several layers \u2013\u00a0the visible layer is the enamel; below that is the dentin and then the inside layer is the nerve. Once the cavity gets into the dentin, that is when it is time to get a filling \u2013 to keep it from getting into the nerve.\r\n\r\n\u201cOnce a cavity gets into that middle layer, that\u2019s where it needs to be filled,\u201d Abbott said. \u201cAt that point, the tooth won\u2019t re-mineralize itself.\u201d \r\n\r\nIt is important to fix a cavity before it gets to the nerve, because the nerve is connected to the body\u2019s bloodstream and if the bacteria gets that far, it can lead to other health issues.\r\n\r\n\u201cIf bacteria gets in the bloodstream, it starts to spread and that\u2019s when an infection will form and basically, once enough of that bacteria builds up, it forms an abscess,\u201d Abbott said. \u201cThat\u2019s when you start to have swelling, pain, more moderate to severe discomfort.\u201d\r\n\r\nTooth decay can also lead to heart disease in adults, if not treated early.\r\n\r\n\u201cThey\u2019re starting to see a lot of correlations between patients that have heart disease that also are suffering from \u2013 we call it periodontal disease \u2013\u00a0a lot of people just say gum disease,\u201d Abbott said. \r\n\r\nIf a cavity is not addressed or if it returns, it can lead to the need for a crown, root canal, or worst case scenario, removal of the tooth \u2013\u00a0an act dentists do not take lightly.\r\n\r\n\u201cOur goal is to save the tooth if at all possible,\u201d Abbott said. \u201cPeople often don\u2019t know this, but if you get a tooth pulled, it\u2019s not just as simple as that because then, it changes the bone around it because once the tooth is gone, your mouth settles. It\u2019s like a hillside. If you take a tree out of the ground, the ground settles and your jaw will do the same thing.\r\n\r\n\u201cThat\u2019s why people who are missing their teeth have a sunken look,\u201d he continued. \u201cIt\u2019s not always just an eating issue because it also changes face structure. It can change your looks quite a bit, especially if you have more than one tooth taken out.\u201d\r\n\r\nSo, when is a good time to start oral health care and seeing the dentist on a regular basis?\r\n\r\nAbbott says it\u2019s never too early.\r\n\r\n\u201cAs far as home child care, we recommend even before teeth come in \u2013\u00a0we encourage parents get a washcloth and wipe off the child\u2019s gums,\u201d he said. \u201cFor one thing, it just gets them used to you being in their mouth, but also, you get films that build up on the gum tissue. It doesn\u2019t take much and you get a plaque biofilm to build up and that bacteria in your mouth sticks when it\u2019s in there for awhile.\u201d\r\n\r\nWiping the gums of an infant will help keep the bacteria at bay and will help prepare them for brushing once their teeth do break through. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry also recommends using a fluoride toothpaste once the child\u2019s teeth begin to emerge.\r\n\r\nJust know, a little dab will do you.\r\n\r\n\u201cIt is important when you\u2019re using the fluoride toothpaste \u2013 especially for a child \u2013that you only\u00a0use about the size of a grain of rice,\u201d Abbott said. \u201cYou don\u2019t load the brush up, because if they do swallow it, they could potentially get sick. You want to limit that. You want to be there as the parent helping them brush, helping them get used to it. They do recommend, as far as when to start coming to the dentist, it is usually by the time the child turns one or when the first tooth comes in.\u201d\r\n\r\nBut, Abbott assures, there isn\u2019t much they do to the child in those first visits. He said it is important to get them used to a dentist and the equipment in the office.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe usually discuss home care, diet and basically, it\u2019s allowing the child to get used to coming to the dental office,\u201d he said. \u201cIf they never go and then their first visit is because they have something that hurts, then they start to associate going to the dentist with something that is going to hurt them.\u201d\r\n\r\nIt is important to care for baby teeth as if they are permanent teeth because their health does have an effect on the permanent teeth.\r\n\r\n\u201cIf you lose a baby tooth too early, we do have concerns with that,\u201d Abbott said. \u201cThe baby tooth saves the space for the permanent tooth to come in. If one gets infected and you lose it before the permanent tooth is ready, the remaining baby teeth will start to move because they\u2019re spreading out and filling that space.\u201d\r\n\r\nWith the remaining teeth reacting to the gap, the permanent tooth will have issues with breaking through. It could come in crooked or get locked and not come in at all.\r\n\r\nIf a baby tooth has to be removed or falls out due to an infection or cavity, that infection may carry on into the permanent tooth and lead to a cavity early in the tooth\u2019s life.\r\n\r\n\u201cIf there is an infection and it has to be removed, that can affect the developing permanent tooth underneath it,\u201d Abbott said. \u201cSometimes, the permanent tooth will come in and we all of a sudden see a dark spot on a brand new tooth. So sometimes those infections will actually scar the permanent teeth because it affects their growth.\u201d\r\n\r\nWhile teeth are the dentist\u2019s main focus, the mouth as a whole has other issues that a dentist can help with, including problems with dry mouth.\r\n\r\nDry mouth causes the mouth not to create enough saliva and leaves an individual at a higher risk of getting cavities because the bacteria is given a better chance to grow.\r\n\r\n\u201cThere\u2019s a product called Biotene that we recommend to a lot of patients,\u201d Abbott said. \u201cIt is a mouthwash. They also have gums and different things, but the mouthwash is the one that a lot of people use. We encourage patients to use that \u2013 even four or five times a day.\r\n\r\nEverything Abbott recommends is what he does at home for his own oral health.\r\n\r\n\u201cPrevention goes a long way,\u201d he said. \u201cI get it, dentistry is not cheap.\u201d\r\n\r\nBut the investment in trying to prevent dental issues is usually much less that trying to fix things later.\r\n\r\nCommunity Care Dental opened in 2012 and is open Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe\u2019re here and we\u2019re happy to help,\u201d he added. \u201cThat\u2019s why we\u2019re in the community. We want to be as much help to people as we can.\u201d\r\n\r\nContact Community Care Dental at 304-456-5433.