Dental Health

Oral Hygiene

The cornerstone to a good oral hygiene regimen is proper brushing and flossing habits. For more on brushing and flossing, see our Brushing & Flossing page.

Brushing

Step 1

Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and a small strip of fluoridated toothpaste.  Holding the brush at a 45-degree angle, move the brush in small circular motions across the teeth.

Step 2

Carefully brush the chewing surfaces of your teeth, making sure to clean the back teeth and between the teeth.

Step 3

Use the same circular motion to clean the inside of the upper and lower teeth.

Step 4

Brush the inside of the top and bottom front teeth by angling the head of the toothbrush up-and-down and brushing in a small, circular motion.

Step 5

Finish by brushing your tongue and the roof of your mouth before rinsing.

Flossing

Step 1

Floss at least once a day. Pull a small length of floss from the dispenser and wrap the ends tightly around your middle fingers.

Step 2

Gently guide the floss between all teeth to the gum line, including the back teeth, to remove any food particles or plaque.

Step 3

Unwrap clean floss from around your fingers as you go so that you have used the floss from beginning to end.

Diet Control

Diet Control

The teeth, bones and soft tissue of the mouth require a healthy, well-balanced diet. A variety of foods from the five food groups help minimize and avoid cavities and other dental problems. Consumption of foods that contain sugars and starches should be decreased. These foods can include candies, cookies, chips and crackers. Healthier foods, such as vegetables, low-fat yogurt and cheeses, help promote stronger teeth.

Dental Visits

Dental Visits

You should visit your general dentist twice a year (once every six months). In order to maintain a healthy smile, it is vital to have professional cleanings and regular checkups. Your dentist will examine your teeth and provide an evaluation of existing dental problems and proposed treatment. If you have a dental emergence, you should call your dentist immediately.

Tooth Decay Prevention

Tooth decay is a progressive disease resulting in the interaction of bacteria that naturally occur on the teeth and sugars in the everyday diet. Sugar causes a reaction in the bacteria, causing it to produce acids that break down the mineral in teeth, forming a cavity. Dentists remove the decay and fill the tooth using a variety of fillings, restoring the tooth to a healthy state. Nerve damage can result from severe decay and may require a crown (a crown is like a large filling that can cap a tooth, making it stronger or covering it). Avoiding unnecessary decay simply requires strict adherence to a dental hygiene regimen: brushing and flossing twice a day, regular dental checkups, diet control and fluoride treatment. Practicing good hygiene avoids unhealthy teeth and costly treatment.

Sealants

The grooves and depressions that form the chewing surfaces of the back teeth are extremely difficult (if not impossible) to clean of bacteria and food. As the bacteria reacts with the food, acids form and break down the tooth enamel, causing cavities. Recent studies indicate that 88 percent of total cavities in American school children are caused this way. Tooth sealants protect these susceptible areas by sealing the grooves and depressions, preventing bacteria and food particles from residing in these areas. Sealant material is a resin typically applied to the back teeth, molars and premolars and areas prone to cavities. It lasts for several years but needs to be checked during regular appointments.

Fluoride

Fluoride is a substance that helps teeth become stronger and resistant to decay. Regularly drinking water treated with fluoride and brushing and flossing regularly ensures significantly lower cavities. Dentists can evaluate the level of fluoride in a primary drinking water source and recommend fluoride supplements (usually in tablets or drops), if necessary.

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