Monday, May 18, 2009

Dental Health: What Is Plaque

Dental Health: What Is Plaque
by Michael Russell

If no action is taken to maintain proper dental health care, acid will form and attack the tooth enamel, allowing tooth decay to penetrate into the softer tissue inside the tooth. If the decay is not treated in its early stages, it will progress to the tooth pulp, a soft tissue containing nerves, arteries, veins and lymph vessels. Eventually, an abscess will begin to form at the root - and unless endodontic (root canal) treatment is carried out, the tooth will be lost.

Plaque must be removed daily, if not, the irritants in plaque can cause swollen, red, bleeding gums. These conditions occur when plaque hardens and forms tartar (calculus) that collects around the tooth under the gum line, causing the gum to pull away from the tooth. Pockets form between the tooth and under the gum line. Plaque and its harmful by-products move down along the tooth towards the roots. When the bone is eaten away, the tooth, with little support, will become loose and fall out. Gum disease (periodontal disease) is one of the main causes of tooth loss in adults. However, if it is detected in time, it can be treated. Practising proper dental health care, you will be able to notice any warning signs of tooth decay.

Food is a huge contributing factor in causing plaque formation on teeth. Sticky, sugary foods are the traditional cause of tooth decay. However, over the past decade, scientific thinking about the connection between diet and tooth decay has changed quite appreciably. Dentists no longer talk about foods being good or bad for teeth. How often you eat and how long food remains in the mouth are considerations that are just as important as what you actually eat.

A bacterial deposit (plaque) constantly forms on the tooth surfaces. The bacteria in plaque thrive on refined carbohydrates (especially sugar) that are converted into acid. This acid damages the tooth enamel and erodes it until a cavity (caries) forms. Dental scientists have found that these bacteria can use either natural or processed sugars. Sugar in an apple is as likely to cause tooth decay as sugar in a chocolate bar.

Furthermore, the simple starches in foods such as bread, cake or cereals are broken down by salivary enzymes into the same kinds of sugars that generate the formation of acids. The main problem with sticky confectionery, such as toffee or dried fruit and with long-lasting boiled sweets, is that they remain in the mouth (and release sugar) for a long time, thereby increasing the likelihood of tooth decay. It is best, therefore, to eat sweets in moderation and to brush and floss your teeth regularly. If you must have sugary foods, restrict their consumption to immediately after meals, when increased saliva production makes them less harmful.

Another point often overlooked in dental health care for children is that children older than one year old should not be put to bed with feeding bottles containing fruit juice, sweetened tea, flavoured or sweetened milk, or even cows milk. The flow of saliva slows during sleep and the liquid can stagnate on the teeth. The sooner a mother starts cleaning a child's teeth - even if it is breastfed - the less chance of it developing tooth decay from food and drinks.

Foods that promote dental health care and especially lessen plaque formation are raw vegetables, nuts, popcorn, plain yoghurt and cheese. In fact, cheese is not only considered one of the best sources of calcium (a nutrient essential for healthy bones and teeth), but research has also shown that certain types - for example, aged Cheddar - protects the teeth against the acids that cause tooth decay.

Michael Russell

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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Dental Health Plans Vs. Dental Insurance

Dental Health Plans Vs. Dental Insurance
Dental care is more and more expensive as time goes by, this is a reality. Most people might feel tempted to leave dental care aside and put it off, what do they need it for? Teeth are durable, who needs dental insurance or dental plans? They already have to bear with house insurance, car insurance, business equipment insurance, dental insurance can wait. But this is not how it should work. Actually, dental health insurance is not really that expensive, and people will benefit terribly from it.

What is the different between a dental health plan and dental insurance? Wait, are they not the same thing? No, they are not. They are two very different things, though many do not know that. And by not knowing, they are missing out on the great benefits these two financial products have to offer if combined.

Dental Insurance

This insurance product had been designed to cover the costs of dental care. It will partially or fully cover your dental care bills. By having dental insurance, you will eliminate the risk factor of a dental emergency arising and not having the money to pay for the dental procedure. Not only are these procedures extremely expensive, but also having to live with a cracked tooth or molar, for example, can be very painful.

It has been often said that regular dental insurance has many drawbacks. Deductibles are often high and maximum per year might be low, but it can save your neck in case of an emergency. Even if you have to make co-payments on the procedures, it will be better than having to pay them in full.

Other cons include the fact that dental insurance will often only cover routine check-ups, cleanings, x-rays and such, which is not very useful, as they might already be inexpensive. Most dental insurance companies will not cover cosmetic procedures or orthodontic procedures.

Dental Health Plan

Dental health plans or discount health plans are often thought of as an alternative to regular dental insurance. An annual fee is charged in exchange for discounted prices on quality dental care. These plans are activated on the very same day you apply for them, thus avoiding long waiting periods and hassles. Anyone can apply, an individual or a family group, there are no age limits, so even if you are 80 years old, you will be able to start getting discounts on your dental procedures. Consumers might get as much as 35% off of retail price on these procedures.

Another great advantage these plans have to offer, is that they include treatment for pre-existent conditions. Most dental insurance companies do not allow that.

Of course, not everything is bright and shiny. In case of a real accident, let us say a bicycle accident or car accident, your dental insurance would probably cover most of your medical bills. The best thing the dental plan would do for you in a situation of the sort is give you a discount on the procedures. These two financial products offer many advantages if used separately, but if you have the chance to combine them, you will be saving hundreds, and probably thousands os dollars on dental bills every year.

By: Amanda Hash
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