EIGHT SIMPLE STEPS TO DENTAL HEALTH
STEP 1: Understand your own oral health needs.
“Your oral health depends on many factors, including your diet [what you eat], the type and amount of saliva in your mouth, habits, your overall health and your oral hygiene routine,” Dr. Albert said. Changes in our overall health often create changes in our oral health. “For example, many medications, including more than 300 common drugs, can reduce the amount of saliva in your mouth, resulting in dry mouth,” he said. “They also can make your saliva ropy or thicker in consistency. Women who are pregnant experience oral changes. This often includes inflammation of the gums, which is called pregnancy gingivitis. Patients with asthma often breathe through their mouths, particularly when sleeping, which can result in dry mouth and increased plaque formation and gingivitis.”
STEP 2: Commit to a daily oral health routine.
Set a regular time to form good habits. Everyone is in a hurry, so habit-forming must be a conscious effort to establish. But once we have a momentum, committing to the confidence gained, for only around five minutes per day, the long-term results are dramatic.
STEP 3: Eat a balanced diet.
Limit snacks, particularly those high in simple sugars. When we eat, particles of food lodged around teeth provide fuel for bacteria. The bacteria produces acid every time we eat. The more often we eat and the longer food stays in our mouths, the more time bacteria has to produce acids that begin the decay process. Repeated acid attacks break down the enamel surface of our teeth, which leads to cavities. If you must snack, brush your teeth, or chew sugarless gum afterward. A balanced diet is also important. Deficiencies in minerals and vitamins can also affect your oral health, as well as your general health.
STEP 4: Brush regularly with fluoride.
Everyone should brush at least twice a day, preferably three times, or after every meal. Include fluoride to strengthen developing teeth in children and to help prevent decay in adults and children. Toothpastes and mouthwashes are good sources of fluoride. Your dentist can prescribe stronger concentrations of fluoride through gels or rinses if you need it.
STEP 5: Floss at least twice a day to remove plaque, in addition to brushing.
Millions of bacteria live in our mouths and feed off of food left on our teeth. Food particles lodged between teeth and caught in the gums surrounding teeth can not be removed completely by brushing alone. As bacteria flourish, they produce an acid that eats into tooth enamel and a sulfur compound that creates bad breath. Left alone, bacteria grows in a sticky mesh of mucus and debris called “plaque.” This plaque not only fosters enamel decay and cavities, but also irritates the gums, causing periodontal diseases. Flossing breaks up the colonies of bacteria sticking to our teeth. Follow with a dental rinse as a good way to swish and spit bacteria away. Flossing helps keep our teeth clean, and breath fresh, between visits to our dental hygienists for “professional plaque removal.”
STEP 6: If you use tobacco, in any form, quit.
Smoking or using smokeless tobacco increases your risk of oral cancer, gingivitis, periodontitis and tooth decay. Using tobacco also contributes to bad breath and stains on your teeth. If you smoke or use smokeless tobacco, your dentist or dental hygienist can show you where lesions are most likely to appear.
STEP 7: Examine your mouth regularly.
Even if we visit our dentists regularly, we are in the best positions to notice changes in our mouths. Your dentist sees you only a few times a year, but you can examine your mouth weekly to look for changes that might be of concern. These changes could include swollen gums, chipped teeth, discolored teeth, sores or lesions. A regular examination is particularly important for tobacco users, who are at increased risk of developing oral cancer.
STEP 8: Visit the dental office regularly.
You and your dentist should talk about the frequency of regular visits. We each need a different blend of oral and dental care, for no two people have mouths the same.
With these easy maintenance steps, regular checkups, and knowing what to watch for, we can ensure that our teeth remain strong as we age. It takes so little for such a beneficial long-term investment!
- “Teeth as Best Friends” —they are depended upon to help our well being. But, like any healthy relationship, they do need attention.
Until something happens, most of us take our teeth for granted. We may not always remember to brush and floss. We often procrastinate visits to the dentist. Teeth can be easy to ignore because problems don’t develop quickly. Rarely are there true emergencies. Like a best friend, they are always there to help our well being. Like a best friend, we depend on them when we need them. But, also like a best friend, they do need attention. They have needs as well.
The most common reasons a patient visits my dental office include concerns for:
- Health & well-being
- Quality of life and pain management
People can be judged by their friends. And we can be judged by our teeth. A glamorously dressed woman, immaculate and fashionable, can ruin the whole effect if her smile displays bad teeth! More importantly, we only feel as good overall as the condition of our teeth. When we smile, we immediately think of how our teeth look. When we bite into an apple, we know instantly the condition of our abilities. More lasting than hairstyles, our teeth may be the single biggest indication of self-concept.
It is human nature to race forward based on the reliability of friends and tools. Teeth truly are both. Whatever investment of time and attention we give to them pays us back every moment of our days. These trusted friends deserve our care through extending this trust into our healthcare. By maintaining our teeth in a preventative manner, we ensure they are always there when we need them.
By working collaboratively with my team, we foster an atmosphere of educational and perceptive dentistry. Each patient has a story to tell through teeth. With focused and individualized care, patients can make the best decisions for their overall health. Regular visits allow us to check teeth for decay, support gum health, and catch any abnormalities that may arise. With plaque and tartar removed, when teeth are polished, this is one of the best feelings to have.
Because our teeth are such a major aspect to our quality of life, my team gets to know each patient. I consider family backgrounds, medical/dental histories, and can advise on any decisions that need to be made. There are always choices in how to be proactive or cautious and the treatment solutions. Plans are tailored preferences.
The open communication that we develop during your appointment will enable the best decisions for whether to be aggressive or moderate. Once values are identified, these choices become much easier.
Trust, communication, and honesty between patient and dentist creates the most nurturing and efficient treatment progress. Thoughtfulness, awareness, comfort, and dependability are important values that we, as patients, must embody to best help ourselves. We are vastly rewarded for our diligence. To smile confidently and proudly is one of life’s delights.
—Arnold K. Chernoff, DDS
GUIDE TO PATIENT CONCERNS:
Being healthy in today’s society is time consuming and expensive without shortcuts. Diet, exercise, and healthcare all demand attention. One of the fastest and easiest ways to maintain overall health can start with oral health.