Preventing cavities, gum disease, bad breath and other mouth problems is the best way to treat them. Over time, prevention can save patients pain and discomfort associated with tooth decay and gum disease, the embarrassment of discolored teeth and bad breath, as well as the cost of having to restore affected teeth, gums and bone.
There are two things you need for effective prevention against the bad bacteria in your mouth: good, daily oral hygiene habits and regular check-ups with your dentist and dental hygienist. The dental check-up should be done at least every six months. Some patients may need more often.
Good oral hygiene involves the proper care of the mouth and teeth to keep teeth and other tissues and structures clean and prevent dental problems. As we eat and drink over the course of the day, food particles build up on our teeth. Bacteria starts forming just 30 minutes after brushing whether we’ve eaten or not. This bacteria feasts on food particles and multiplies.
Plaque and food remnants can be removed by brushing at least twice a day, and flossing once a day. Brushing cleans the teeth, and floss removes plaque and food debris from between and behind back teeth where toothbrushes can’t always reach. The best time of day to brush is right before bed, and then again when you get up in the morning. Your mouth produces only about 20% of the amount saliva that it normally does during the day. Saliva is the mouth’s natural defence against bacteria. So, even if you brushed your teeth the night before, your mouth needs to be cleaned in the morning too.
Brushing polishes the teeth and removes most of the food debris that can get stuck in between teeth and along the gum line. Many people believe they have to give their teeth and gums “a good scrubbing” when actually only gentle brushing is really needed. Brushing too hard can actually harm gums and damage teeth. Bacterial growth can break down the minerals in the enamel that usually protects the inner part of the tooth. Brushing too hard can actually increase the effects of this demineralization, leading to sensitivity and other problems.
Brush back and forth on the tops of your molar teeth. When brushing the fronts of your teeth, hold your toothbrush at a 45 degree angle, then use gentle, circular strokes (according to the Academy of General Dentistry). The circular motion loosens the plaque and food and lifts it away from the gum line. Go back over your teeth with a gentle pulling up motion on the lower teeth and pulling down motion on the upper teeth to sweep any food and plaque away. Don’t forget to brush the backs of your teeth, next to the tongue and the palate, or your tongue — many bad breath germs can linger there.
Flossing can be done either before or after brushing.
If teeth aren’t cleaned thoroughly and regularly, plaque can harden into tartar (or calculus), which cannot be removed by brushing, and only by the special tools used by a dental hygienist.
Regular dental cleaning and exams with your dentist and hygienist at Dental Arts of South Jersey can prevent costly dental problems in the future. Special tools are needed to clean away tartar that has accumulated along and sometimes below the gum line. The hygienist will also polish teeth to remove stains and may apply a fluoride treatment to help keep enamel strong. Your hygienist will note any changes she or he sees in your mouth, any symptoms you report, and record them in your chart. She may need to take an X-ray to ensure that everything is okay.
Just because you may not feel any pain, doesn’t mean there might not be a problem. In fact, pain usually only happens when tooth decay, gum disease, and infected root canals get to a more serious stage. Checking and cleaning the mouth regularly can ensure that these infections are prevented or caught at the earliest stages, meaning a much easier treatment plan.
If it has been a while since you’ve had a check up, now is a good time. So many people place their dental health lowest on the priority list until a crisis hits and the patient is left in a painful dental emergency situation. Taking care all along is always the best way of keeping your mouth healthy.
The skilled hygienists at Dental Arts of South Jersey have many methods that can keep your teeth healthy and clean. You can find out which areas of your mouth need extra attention, and can also get instructions and tips on how to improve your home oral health care rituals.
Call us at (856) 324-3361 to schedule an appointment, or book an appointment online.