Listed here are ten top tips to help you keep your great smile! Check out the other portions of the smart smile sections for info on common dental conditions, treatments, and other helpful bits of information.
1. “Maintenance is key!” Lets face it, none of us are perfect when it comes to brushing and flossing. We all miss stuff from time to time which can lead to gum disease and decay. That’s why regular visits to the dentist (twice a year) are so important. Not only can your dentist help you to remove the tartar and calculus that has formed on your teeth, he or she will be able to detect problems when they are small and easy to treat.
2. “A clean mouth is a happy mouth.” As great as your teeth feel after a visit to the dentist, its up to you to keep them as clean as possible for the other 363 days a year. That means brushing and flossing two to three times a day. But not just brushing...effective brushing. A twenty second once over usually is not enough. Your dentist can show you the most effective way to brush and floss, then it’s up to you. And don’t forget to brush your tongue. It harbors tons of bacteria and can be the major source of bad breath.
3. “If you do have a problem, don’t delay in getting help.” In a perfect world, fillings would last forever, teeth would never break, and gingivitis would not exist. In reality, fillings do breakdown over time, popcorn can crack teeth, and people do get gum disease. Some of these problems develop over time, but others happen just like that. When something bad does happen, have it looked at right away before the problem gets worse. Many things start off not so bad, but with neglect can become major problems.
4. “Invest in your smile.” Not too many people who get a new car never wash it nor change the oil. On the contrary, new car owners want their purchase to last and look nice as long as possible. In the same way, people who have lightened their teeth and invested in cosmetic enhancements to their teeth, tend to take great care of their new smiles. So not only can improvements to your smile make a huge impact on how you look and feel about yourself, they can actually motive you make dental health a priority rather than a burden.
5. “Smoking is hazardous to your (dental) health.” Smoking has obvious health effects to one’s lungs and cardiovascular system. But did you know that... smoking can cause a hyperkeratosis in the mouth called Nicotine Stomatitis, smoking and drinking together means a 15 times greater risk for developing oral cancer, and smoking can be the biggest factor contributing to the development of periodontal disease?
6. “Watch what you eat and drink.” Sticky, sugary things like taffy and jelly beans that get stuck in the grooves of the biting surfaces of your teeth are a major cause of decay, so either avoid them or make sure that you clean your teeth right away. Some people have more trouble with decay in between their teeth. Sweet liquids are usually to blame, especially soda pop. Simple sugars from things like candy and pop give the bacteria in your mouth something to eat. The bacteria produce acid as a result, and that acid eats away at your teeth giving you cavities. These reason that Pepsi is so bad for your teeth is that not only are you ingesting large amounts of sugar, feeding the bacteria in your mouth, but you are also bathing your teeth in acid. Bottom line, your diet is very important for your mouth as well as for the rest of you.
7. “Prescription medications can make a difference.” Your mouth has a great weapon in the fight against tooth decay: saliva. Your saliva acts to wash your teeth, it contains antibodies to help keep bacteria in check, and it has buffers that neutralize acids in the mouth. Many prescription medications have side affects that include reduced salivary flow rates, or xerostomia. Without the protection that saliva has to offer, decay can be a big problem. Chewing gum can help, as can constantly sipping on water throughout the day, but this too, can be a big problem.
8. “Gum Disease: the silent killer.” By age 18, half of America have signs and symptoms of gum disease. By age 35, three quarters of us have a problem. Gum disease, which includes gingivitis and the much more serious periodontitis, is a progressive disease. It starts out as maybe some bleeding when you brush or floss, but can lead to tooth loss and bone destruction. Pain is usually not evident until the problem is advanced. The good news is that gum problems are easy to avoid through good oral hygiene, regular dental visits, proper diet, and by not smoking. (See numbers 1, 2, 5, and 6 above.)
9. “Rinse, Rinse, Rinse!” Mouth rinses are a great aid in keeping a healthy mouth. There are rinses that contain fluoride to protect the teeth from decay. Other rinses are designed to keep your gums and oral tissues healthy. Some of these are over the counter, some are given out as a prescription, while still others are only available from your dentist. There are even rinses that now prevent plaque from accumulating on the teeth. Your dentist can recommend a rinse regimen tailored to your needs.
10. “Find a dentist with a plan.” Most dentists are more than capable clinicians. Some offices are laced with gold while some haven’t had a face lift since 1954. Some offices use lots of new technology, others are satisfied with the standard stuff. Whatever floats your boat. What really matters is the relationship between the dentist and the patient. It’s important to find an office where people are comfortable, informed, and cared for. Sounds great, but your dentist must have a plan, a system, to make it all happen. We’d like to think that this is what we are all about.