To help you with the basic knowledge needed to keep your oral health at its best, we publish a series of helpful tips in short articles. These give you a simple guide to reveal options, save time, money, and effort. They help you easily do your dental diligence and we hope you find them helpful.
NEW FEATURE: Eight Steps to Dental Health
Of all the activities for ensuring health, dental diligence is the least time-consuming. Some people assume they will lose their teeth as they age, but that doesn’t have to happen. To keep our teeth for a lifetime only takes eight simple steps, from forming a daily routine, knowing what to watch for, and developing a relationship with your dentist for greatest efficiency.
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!
Take care of your oral health to keep your whole body at its best. Visit our centrally located Evanston, Illinois, dental office with convenient hours to fit your schedule.