The most fundamental aspect of dental health is good hygiene. Consistent, effective cleaning and maintenance is essential. And with proper care, your teeth and gums will stay healthy for your entire life.
Of course, good hygiene starts with home care that includes brushing at least twice a day, and ideally after every meal. Brushing with a soft brush and fluoride toothpaste will remove plaque that clings to the teeth. When bacteria in plaque is left on the teeth, it produces acid that can eventually lead to decay and cavities.
Flossing once a day is another important component to dental hygiene. Flossing gets rid of the food and plaque that collects between teeth. Brushing alone is not enough! When plaque stays between teeth, it can harden into calculus (tartar) which will eventually have to be removed by a dentist or hygienist.
Eating right is yet another key factor in caring for your teeth. Foods that contain sugars and starches produce the most acids in the mouth and can damage teeth. Hard candy is particularly harmful. Other foods to avoid are cookies, cakes, pies, sugary gum, crackers, chips, dried fruits, and raisins. Sugary beverages such as soda and juice can also damage teeth.
Along with home dental care, dental visits are also very important. You should visit your dentist for checkups and professional cleaning at least once every six months to maintain healthy teeth and gums. You should also see your dentist if you have any concerns such as painful teeth or bleeding, swollen gums.
Beyond these important dental hygiene strategies, sealants can be particularly beneficial – especially as part of a child’s preventative dental care. Dental sealants serve as a protective barrier, helping to protect teeth against decay causing bacteria. This thin plastic coating is typically applied to chewing surfaces of back teeth (premolars and molars) where decay is most likely to occur.
Sealant is applied with no drilling or removal of tooth structure. The three-step process simply requires a cleaning the teeth with a special toothpaste, Applying a special cleansing liquid, and then painting the sealant on the teeth. It takes only a minute for the sealant to form a shield that will protect against decay. A sealant application typically lasts from five to 10 years.
With more than 75% of Americans suffering some form of periodontal disease, dental hygiene should not be considered just an afterthought. Instead, it should be a primary consideration in overall health and well-being. Daily oral health care combined with regular dental visits is essential for preventing cavities, gum disease, and tooth loss. With the proper care for your teeth and gums, you can ensure dental health for many, many years to come.