Good Dental Hygiene
Good dental health is more than a set of sparkling white teeth. Good dental health is about keeping our teeth and gums healthy. Healthy teeth and gums can provide confidence, ensure the enjoyment of food and cut down on hefty and unnecessary dental bills. It can also help prevent gum disease--the leading cause of tooth loss in adults. Some also caution that gum disease can lead to diseases like diabetes, heart disease, stroke and pneumonia.
Here are some simple ways to ensure oral health:
- Schedule Regular Check-ups
Most dentist recommend at least two visits a year. These check-ups can detect any early signs of oral problems, so preventive measures can be taken. Frequent periodontal check-ups are also needed to ensure healthy gums. These visits should also include deep and thorough (prophylaxis) to keep plaque away.
- Establish a Cleaning Routine
Establishing a cleaning routine is your first line of defense against bacteria in your mouth. This is one area completely within your control and all you need is some conscientious effort. Brush with a soft-bristled toothbrush at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste. Hold your brush at an angle and use short back and forth motion. Avoid any harsh brushing as it can wear away enamel and irritate gums. And yes, don't forget to floss. Flossing removes plaque and helps you reach those hard-to-get-to areas.
Consequences for neglect: bad breath, cavities, gingivitis and urghh…eventual tooth loss. Who needs that?
- Healthy Diet
Our mouth is a showcase of what you eat. Sugary foods and heavy starches provide the medium for bacteria to ferment the sugar into tooth-decaying acids. Choose foods rich in calcium, Vitamins C and D. Eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables as these fiber rich foods stimulate salivary flow to re-mineralized tooth surfaces.
If you're a yogurt person--good for you. Japanese researchers found that individuals who consume 55g or more of yogurt showed significantly less signs of periodontal disease.
The leading cause of gum disease is plaque. Plaque is a film that builds up along the gum line and traps food and germs. Once settled in the germs attack the gums themselves, causing soreness and bleeding. If the plaque is left on the gum line for too long, a harder more substantial film called tartar will form under the gum line. The key to controlling plaque and tartar build up is a daily dental hygiene program that includes brushing and flossing. To reinforce your daily dental program, visit your dentist twice a year for professional cleanings.
There are two stages of gum disease. The first is gingivitis. Gingivitis occurs when plaque has built up enough to cause tenderness and bleeding when brushing and flossing your teeth. To prevent gingivitis, follow a good dental hygiene program as suggested above.
The second and much more serious stage of gum disease is called periodontitis. Periodontitis occurs when gingivitis has been left untreated and has progressed to this next level. This will not only cause sore swollen gums, it will cause your gums to pull away from the teeth creating pockets that collect food particles and may become infected. If left untreated, your teeth will begin to loosen, resulting in tooth loss. The key to preventing
gum disease is following a daily home dental hygiene program and regular visits with your dentist. If you suspect you have gum disease, see your dentist immediately. If left untreated, it will only get worse.