Want to know the number one way to avoid cavities, toothache, root canals, tooth decay, sensitive teeth, gum recession, and tooth extraction? Do these three things and we’ll even throw in a healthier heart, greater resistance to dementia, and reduce incidence of diabetes complications!
Ok, so this isn’t an infomercial, but preventative dental care really does have all those benefits. Removing dental plaque from the teeth can prevent cavities (a.k.a. dental caries), gingivitis (swollen and infected gums), and periodontal disease (infected and receding gums with possible bone loss). When dental plaque builds up, it becomes hardened and is known as tartar. Your mouth is connected to the rest of your body, and preventing gum and tooth disease can help your immune system. Studies show that regular tooth cleaning helps your heart health!
Care At Home
Maybe it’s old news, but you need to brush and floss your teeth regularly. By regularly, we mean you should floss or use an interdental brush at least once a day, and brush your teeth after each meal or a minimum of twice a day. This helps to prevent the buildup of tartar. This is important because your body reacts to the presence of tartar with an immune reaction to try to fight off this foreign invader. When your body needs to fight tartar, you have gum disease. Gingivitis is extremely common; most people have some degree of it. Unfortunately, while your body is fighting tartar, it also hurts the bones and tissues in your mouth.
Keeping your teeth and mouth clean gives your immune system a break from all that hard work and helps keep you healthier – that’s why there’s a link between oral hygiene and things like stroke, heart disease, and dementia. Ask your hygienist about how to brush and floss properly so as to be effective without damaging your gums. Other at-home tips include making sure you use a fluoride toothpaste, eating a well-balanced diet that limits sweets and sticky foods, and avoiding smoking.
Regular Hygienist Cleaning
Are you an expert flosser and brusher? Excellent! Unfortunately that doesn’t mean you can avoid your regular dentist appointment for a cleaning every 6 months. A dental hygienist has the training and tools to clean at a level you just can’t at home. It’s also hard for you to reach all areas of your mouth, but your hygienist can. Your hygienist will do a consultation, clean and polish your teeth, review your periodontal health, and if needed they’ll also go over treatment planning with you. While you’re in the office, you should also see the dentist for your six-month checkup, including head and neck exam, oral cancer screening, periodontal/gum exam, TMJ analysis, tooth-by-tooth inspection, x-rays and photographs. Your dentist will also review your concerns with you and discuss treatment plans if applicable.
Protect Your Smile: Guards and Sealant
If you’re an athlete in a sport where head collisions are likely, such as football, hockey, lacrosse, and rugby, you should have an athletic mouthguard. Your dentist can help make recommendations for this. If during your consultation you were diagnosed with tooth grinding (bruxism) or TMJ disorder, we’ll work with you to fabricate the right night-time guard to alleviate the problem.
We recommend you also consider a dental sealant. These are increasing in popularity, particularly for children, and they can do a lot for preventing tooth decay. Your molars (back teeth) have fissures or grooves on their biting surfaces. If you’ve ever eaten crunchy caramel or sticky candy or even crackers, you’ll know from experience how much food can get stuck in there! Dental sealants fill in those food-grabbing pits, reducing your risk of tooth decay. Sealants are particularly good for children, who are at a higher risk for tooth decay and find it particularly difficult to clean their teeth properly. This preventative measure can help reduce the risk that you’ll need a higher-level intervention like a root canal or even a tooth extraction later in life.
Good oral hygiene and regular dentist visits can contribute to healthy teeth and a healthy body. It also helps you to keep your natural smile for as long as possible. Say cheese and show us your sparkling smile! Call us at 403-240-1257 and reserve your appointment and we’ll be happy to help you maintain your healthy smile.