While dentists are certainly indispensable when it comes to treating various dental conditions and providing you with routine care as well as emergency treatments, it is important to remember that dental health starts with you. There are a number of important aspects of oral hygiene to consider. These include:
Brushing is one of the first dental habits taught to us as children. Unfortunately, however, far too many children and adults do not take the time necessary to properly brush their teeth. Brushing should be done twice per day with a clean soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride goes a long way toward preventing plaque buildup and strengthening the teeth. Plaque is the main contributor to gum disease which can cause eventual tooth loss. When brushing your teeth, use short strokes and don’t forget to clean your tongue as well.
In order to thoroughly clean plaque and food particles from all surfaces of the teeth, flossing is another essential daily dental hygiene practice. Make sure that you clean between each tooth and use gentle motions so that you do not damage your gums. If flossing is a habit that you have never quite mastered, most grocery and drug stores sell interdental cleaners that will allow you to clean between the teeth more easily.
Along with flossing and brushing on a daily basis, using a mouthwash or other rinse that contains fluoride can help to reduce the bacteria in the mouth as well as strengthen the teeth and promote improved oral health.
Eating is another essential part of dental health. While eating a balanced diet is important to overall health and nutrition, keep in mind that starches and sugary foods have been linked with increased plaque buildup as they produce acids that linger in the mouth and, consequently, damage the teeth. If you eat any of the following foods, make sure to at least brush and floss afterwards:
- Dried fruits
- Chips, crackers, and bread
- Cakes, pies, cookies, candies, and gum
Visit Your Dentist Every Six Months
The American Dental Association recommends that you receive a routine dental examination and cleaning every six months to remove all plaque and tartar and examine your teeth, gums, and mouth for signs of gum disease and tooth decay. During your dental appointment, your dentist may also choose to take X-rays, utilize sealants to prevent decay on the chewing surfaces of your teeth, or provide you with a fluoride treatment.