So you brush and floss regularly. But there is more to taking care of those pearly whites. Dentists suggest the following if you want to have your healthy 32 for a lifetime.
Step 1: Understand your own oral-health needs.
Your oral health depends on many factors. These include what you eat, the type and amount of saliva in your mouth, your habits, your overall health and your oral hygiene routine.
Changes in your overall health status often result in changes in your oral health. For example, many medicines, including more than 300 common drugs, can reduce the amount of saliva in your mouth, resulting in dry mouth.
Women who are pregnant go through oral changes. This often includes inflammation of the gums, which is called pregnancy gingivitis. Patients with asthma often breathe through their mouths, particularly when sleeping. This can result in dry mouth and increased plaque formation and gingivitis.
Step 2: Commit to a daily oral-health routine.
Your daily routine should be
- Easy to follow and best suited to your health needs. For example, if you are taking medications that dry your mouth you should ideally use toothpaste that has fluoride in it.
- Brushing two times a day and flossing everyday should be an important part of your routine.
- If you are suffering from any kind of dental problem such as bleeding gums or tooth ache, consult your hygienist.
Step 3: Use fluoride products.
Everyone can benefit from fluoride, not just children. Fluoride strengthens developing teeth in children. It also helps prevent decay in adults and children. Toothpastes and mouthwashes are good sources of fluoride. Your dentist can prescribe a stronger concentration of fluoride in a gel, toothpaste or rinse if you need it.
Step 4: Brush and floss to remove plaque.
Brushing at least twice a day is important to maintain good oral hygiene. In addition, flossing at least once a day. These activities remove plaque (a complex mass of bacteria that constantly forms on your teeth). If plaque is not removed regularly, it forms a hard coating on your teeth called tartar. Tatar once hardened can only be removed by a dentist. Plaque when not removed can turn sugars found in food into acids which leads to decay. It’s important to brush and floss correctly and thoroughly. You need to remove plaque from all sides of the tooth and where the tooth meets the gums. If plaque is not removed, it can lead to gum problems and cavities.
Step 5: Brush or rinse your mouth after every meal.
Every meal you eat, leaves a large number of particles lodged in your mouth. These particles when acted on by plaque turn into acid which cause tooth decay. Rinsing your mouth with a fluoride based mouth wash helps to keep your mouth fresh and healthy.
Step 6: If you use tobacco in any form, quit.
Smoking or using smokeless tobacco increases your risk of oral cancer, gingivitis, periodontitis and tooth decay. Tobacco usage also contributes to bad breath and stains on your teeth.
Step 7: Examine your mouth regularly.
While your dentist and dental hygienist see you only a few times a year, you can examine your mouth weekly to look for changes that might be of concern. Changes in your mouth that you should look for include:
- Swollen gums
- Chipped teeth
- Discolored teeth
- Sores or lesions on your gums, cheeks or tongue
A regular examination is particularly important for tobacco users, who are at increased risk of developing oral cancer. If you smoke or use smokeless tobacco, your dentist or dental hygienist can show you where a sore, spot, patch or lump is most likely to appear.
Step 8: Visit the dentist’s office regularly.
Talk to your dentist about how often you should visit. If you have a history of cavities or crown and bridge work, or are wearing braces, you should visit the dentist more often. Some people, such as diabetics or smokers, have more gum disease than the general population. They also should visit the dentist more often. People with suppressed immune systems also are more likely to have dental problems. Examples include people who are infected with HIV or are receiving cancer treatment. These groups need to be more vigilant against oral diseases.
First Published: Jul 28, 2012 at 8:20 PM