For many of our patients, this time of year is more than just back to school. It is back to a routine, back to bedtimes and alarm clocks, and back to good habits that may have gone by the wayside in the lazy days of summer. One of the most important good habits we should all have is taking care of our teeth. There are many things involved in pursuing a healthy mouth. Here are some tips to getting that oral hygiene routine back on track.
- In order to properly remove plaque (the sticky substance that causes cavities and gum disease), it is necessary to brush your teeth twice a day with a soft or extra-soft bristled toothbrush.
- The most commonly missed area in brushing is at the gumline, so make sure the bristles of your toothbrush are gently touching the gums as you brush.
- Check the bristles of your toothbrush often. The American Dental Association recommends replacing toothbrushes every 3-4 months or sooner if bristles are worn. A worn toothbrush cannot do a thorough job of cleaning teeth.
- Please remember: never share a toothbrush with anyone, especially your child.
Brushing alone does not quite get the job done when it comes to removing plaque from your teeth. The nooks and crannies between your teeth are havens for clumps of bacteria where, unfortunately, even the best toothbrush is not able to reach. Flossing removes this plaque and reduces your risk for cavities and gum disease. Studies have shown that flossing every day can prolong your life by six years. Because flossing is a more difficult skill to master, you should floss your children’s teeth until age 10.
Preventive Dental Care
- Professional cleanings – So let’s say you’re not a perfect brusher and flosser. We all have areas that we may miss with our toothbrush or floss. What happens when sticky, soft plaque is not removed from our teeth? In 24 hours, it begins to harden into tartar (also called calculus). Once it has hardened, it cannot be removed with a toothbrush or floss. It has to be removed by your dentist or dental hygienist. Tartar buildup that is not removed on a regular basis leads to painful, chronic conditions that require more extensive and more expensive dental treatment.
- Dental evaluation and x-rays – A dental evaluation by your dentist can uncover problems that can be treated in the early stages, when damage is minimal and restorations may be small. Dental x-rays show how the teeth are developing and hidden decay that develops between the teeth. X-rays also allow us to monitor the jawbones for any changes, including cancer or abnormal growths. These important steps, taken on a regular basis, can help prevent painful, chronic conditions and save money. Untreated tooth decay is a serious infectious disease for which there is no immunization.
- Fluoride application – Cavities used to be a fact of life. Over the past few decades, one thing has been responsible for a dramatic reduction in the prevalence of cavities: fluoride. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control says that water fluoridation is “one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century”. Fluoride in your water supply is integrated into children’s teeth as they are forming, adding strength and cavity resistance to their enamel. Teeth can also be strengthened and protected with topical fluoride. Topical fluoride includes many products you may already use at home (toothpaste, mouthwash and gel), and it can be professionally applied in your dentist’s office. Your need for professional fluoride treatment should be assessed by your dentist and is based on your cavity risk level
- Sealants – Another area that toothbrush bristles miss is the deep pits and grooves on the biting surfaces of your back teeth. These types of cavities can be prevented by applying dental sealants over the pits and grooves. A dental sealant is a thin coating that goes on in a liquid form, flowing into the pits and grooves and then hardening to form a smooth, flat surface that prevents the accumulation of bacteria and food particles.
Is It Time for You or Your Children to Get Back to a Good Dental Routine?
Call 405-943-0123 today to schedule a visit with Dr. McConnell and Dr. Nguyen! They can make personalized recommendations for you and your children to help you get back on track.