Your teeth and gums won’t stay healthy on their own. Just like your body as a whole, you need to treat them well in order to keep them disease-free and in good shape — hopefully for the rest of your life.
The practice of taking care of your oral health in order to prevent problems down the road is called preventive dentistry. And the better you are about keeping on top of it, the fewer invasive and expensive restorative treatments you will require.
Preventive dentistry includes practicing good oral hygiene at home and sticking to a regular schedule of professional cleanings and exams. If you are a parent, it means teaching your children the importance of taking care of their teeth from a very early age. (The American Dental Association recommends babies see the dentist for the first time by the time they turn one.)
Practice Meticulous Oral Hygiene at Home
How well do you brush and floss? Do you tend to rush through it or just go through the motions? Or do you take your time and use proper technique? Do you even know proper technique? When you’ve been doing something every day for your entire life, it’s easy to become a bit sloppy. So here’s a refresher course on how to take care of your teeth and keep plaque and tartar away.
- Brush at least twice per day. Floss daily. And no, it’s not okay to skip it if you are tired or in a rush.
- When you brush, hold the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gums. Reach all surfaces of the teeth, including the fronts, chewing surfaces, and backs. Don’t neglect the gumline. Use short back-and-forth or circular motions.
- Do not brush too hard. This will wear away the enamel and leave your teeth vulnerable to sensitivity, bacterial acid attacks, and decay. It can also cause gum recession.
- Use fluoride toothpaste and soft-bristled toothbrushes only. Never medium- or hard-bristled brushes, which can damage your teeth and gums. Replace your toothbrush every few months or when the bristles become frayed (whichever comes first).
- Brush your tongue. This helps removes bacteria that can cause decay and bad breath!
- Pull off about 18 inches of dental floss and wind most of it around your middle fingers (leaving about two inches at a time to work with). Hold the floss taut, and run it up and down between your teeth. Rub it against the tooth surfaces, so it not only dislodges stuck food, but helps remove bacteria and plaque. Wrap it around the base of each tooth in a “C” shape. Use a fresh section of floss for each tooth.
Come See Us Every Six Months
No matter how well you take care of your teeth at home, it’s important that you come in for a professional cleaning and exam twice per year. A professional checkup is important for several reasons.
- During your cleaning, our skilled hygienists will remove plaque and tartar build up that would be virtually impossible for you to get to at home. They can clean beneath the gumline and in other hard-to-reach places. They will also floss your teeth thoroughly and polish them so they gleam.
- One of our doctors will conduct a thorough examination of your teeth, gums, and mouth. He will be able to spot signs of periodontal disease and other issues before you have symptoms and while they are relatively easy to treat.
- If you are due, we will take digital X-rays of your mouth. X-rays can discover a host of problems, including impacted teeth, abscesses, tumors, and decay between the teeth. We also have the cutting-edge DIAGNOdent pen that enables us to detect hidden cavities easily and noninvasively.
While you are here, you may want to ask about one or more of the other preventive services we offer.
- Sealants are a plastic coating we paint over the back molars to protect them from cavity-causing acids. While anyone can benefit from sealants, they have been proven to be especially valuable in preventing decay in kids’ teeth.
- Fluoride is a mineral that is essential to keeping the tooth enamel strong. We offer fluoride treatments and varnishes to ensure you’re getting enough.
- We can make you or your kids a custom athletic mouthguard to protect the mouth during sports and other activities. Our mouthguards are better fitting and more comfortable than one-size-fits all drugstore varieties.