24 Jul How You Too Can Have a Super Smile for Life
We all know about brushing and flossing… your dentist and hygienist remind you about these and your mum has been telling you since you were a child. But there are other steps you should take in order to keep your teeth and your mouth healthy for a lifetime. It used to be the case that people would lose teeth as they aged, and it was taken for granted that when your hair went grey (or fell out!) you would also have false teeth. That is definitely not the case now. We now know how to prevent, protect, repair and replace teeth to keep functioning, natural, healthy dentitions for years to come. But, the work isn’t all the responsibility of your dental professionals. Dr Casey Carnall discusses the different ways you can help to maintain your teeth and mouth.
Step 1: Understand your mouth.
Every person has their own individual oral health needs, which depend on many factors. These include your typical diet, the amount and condition of your saliva, your habits, your overall health including medications that you take, and your oral hygiene regime.
You may also find that your oral health changes in time, as does your overall general health. There are more than 300 medications that can reduce saliva flow or cause a dry mouth, which increases your risk of dental decay. If you become pregnant you are likely to notice changes in your mouth including gum inflammation, which is known as pregnancy gingivitis. People wearing braces have a higher risk of decay as they find it more difficult to clean their teeth and find more food particles get stuck. Some inhalers containing steroids for example to control asthma can affect the delicate lining on the inside of your mouth.
Step 2: Commit to a daily oral health routine.
Your dentist and dental hygienist are happy to talk to you about your oral health. Based on your chat you can come up with an effective routine together that takes your own situation into account, including things like your ability to use your hands and access the whole of your mouth.
Understanding what you need to do, why and how is important in sticking to any new regime. With commitment and practise it should be easy to follow. You may be advised to use a certain toothpaste, gel, or rinse, or given certain aids to manage cleaning your teeth.
Step 3: Use fluoride products.
Everyone can benefit from fluoride which has been proven to strengthen developing teeth in children. It also helps prevent decay in adults and children.
Toothpastes and mouthwashes are good sources of fluoride. Available from your dentist, or on prescription, is a stronger concentration of fluoride in a gel, toothpaste or rinse if you need it. Prescription products contain more fluoride and offer more protection against cavities than over-the-counter products. These are suitable for patients at a high risk of decay or future problems including denture wearers, people with poorer manual dexterity and those with reduced saliva flow as well as people who already have a lot of decay.
Step 4: Brush and floss to remove plaque.
Everyone should brush at least twice a day. It’s even better to brush three times a day or after every meal. In addition, you should floss or use interdental brushes at least once a day. These activities remove plaque, which is a complex mass of bacteria that constantly forms on your teeth. If plaque isn’t removed every day, it can turn the sugars found in most foods and drinks into acids that lead to decay. Bacteria in plaque also cause gingivitis and other periodontal diseases. 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: Limit snacks, particularly those high in simple sugars, and eat a balanced diet.
When you eat particles of food can become lodged in and around your teeth. Each time you eat food containing sugars or starches (complex sugars), the bacteria in plaque on your teeth use the sugar to create acids. The more often you eat snacks, and the time the plaque is on your teeth (ie the less frequently you brush and floss) the greater the risk of the acid breaking down your enamel and causing decay.
A balanced diet is also important. Not getting enough minerals and vitamins can affect your oral health, as well as your general health.
Step 6: If you use tobacco … QUIT
Smoking increases your risk of oral cancer, gingivitis, periodontitis and tooth decay. Using tobacco also contributes to bad breath and stains on your teeth. This one is unfortunately, a no brainer.
Step 7: Examine your mouth regularly.
Even if you visit your dentist regularly, you are in the best position to notice changes in your mouth. Your dental professionals only see you a few times a year, but each time you brush your teeth, check that everything feels “normal” to you. Look out for:
- Swollen gums
- Chipped or discoloured teeth
- Sores or lesions on your gums, cheeks or tongue
Step 8: Visit your dental practice regularly.
Most people see the dentist and hygienist twice a year. You may benefit from fewer, or more frequent visits. If you have a history of lots of dental decay, have had a lot of dental work previously, or are wearing braces you are likely benefit from more regular visits to your dentist. If you have a greater risk of gum disease for example diabetics or smokers, or you have a lower immune system then you are likely to benefit from more hygiene visits. Conversely, if you have never had a filling, and have healthy gums, then you may only need to attend once every one or two years just to keep everything in check!
For more information on how to maintain good oral health, call us on 023 8086 8833 to book an appointment.