You want to keep your teeth healthy – but are you doing everything in your power to keep them healthy forever? Healthy teeth and gums are important for every member of your family, but unless everyone is practicing good dental hygiene, eating a healthy diet and seeing a dentist regularly, those pearly whites may not last a lifetime. According to Web MD, there are some things that you can do to keep your teeth healthy and strong regardless of your age.
Start your kids off on the right track and schedule the first dental appointment when the first baby tooth erupts. This is usually around the age of six months. You can wipe your baby’s teeth with a soft baby toothbrush, or a damp cloth. Once your kids reach the age of two, your children can begin to brush their teeth themselves as long as you supervise and show them the proper way to brush. Schedule an appointment with your family dentist for more brushing techniques for your kids and keep pacifier use to a minimum. Developing smart dental habits when your kids are young will help prevent tooth decay and keep their teeth healthy for years to come. An astonishing one out of four children will develop dental caries before they even start school. Half of all kids aged twelve to fifteen have cavities.
Permanent molars usually come in about the age of six. Talk to your dentist about dental sealants that can help prevent tooth decay on the surfaces of the back teeth. Dental sealants can also be used for adults on teeth that have not been restored. Dental sealants can help when it comes to tooth decay as they act as a barrier keeping out food particles.
Brushing and flossing do help, but because of the deep depressions in the premolars and molars, it is difficult to remove the food particles that will eventually cause tooth decay. Dental sealants are applied to the premolars and molars effectively sealing out the food and plaque, which will help keep your teeth healthy (until you need your sealants reapplied).
Dental sealants are easily applied by your family dentist and can usually be taken care of in one dental appointment. Your dentist will paint a plastic resin on to the back teeth that will protect the enamel from bacteria, acids, and plaque. As long as the dental sealants are intact, the surface of the tooth will be protected from dental caries. Dental sealants can last for years before reapplication is required.
Of course, it is imperative that you brush twice and floss once a day to keep your teeth healthy. Gum disease and tooth decay are huge problems, but people of all ages get cavities. Three quarters of the teenage population suffer from bleeding gums and tooth decay. Your dentist recommends that you change your toothbrush four times a year. If anyone in your family wears braces, make sure that you talk to your dentist about special toothbrushes that are used for people who wear dental appliances. People with arthritis can place a foam grip over the handle or use an electric toothbrush to make brushing easier. A simple addition like this can help keep your teeth healthy for a long time because if the simple act of brushing your teeth is difficult, anything that makes it easier will only benefit you in the long run.
Use fluoride, but not too much. Fluoride may be in the water you drink (depending on where you live) and helps strengthen the enamel on your teeth making tooth decay less likely to occur. 96% of British Columbians do not have access to fluoridated water in their communities. Your dentist may also recommend toothpastes and mouthwashes that contain fluoride because it can help you keep your teeth healthy. But be cautious when it comes to kids and fluoride use as it can cause white spots and damage permanent teeth.
Be sure and rinse your mouth after every meal. Keep a toothbrush and toothpaste handy and talk to your dentist about an antibacterial rinse that can help prevent gum disease and tooth decay. Sugar free gum can also help if chewed after a meal as it helps to increase the flow of saliva. Chewing helps wash away the bacteria naturally while neutralizing the acid.
Watch what you eat as certain foods can cause problems with your teeth and gums. Red wine, coffee, and tea will stain your teeth while sticky foods such as dried fruit and chewy caramels can stick to your teeth converting to bacteria before turning into plaque and tartar. If you must indulge in starchy foods such as pretzels, potato chips and French fries rinse immediately after as these types of foods will be caught between your teeth quickly turning into bacteria. Keep your teeth healthy by eating the right foods.
Visit your dentist regularly and if you are having issues with your teeth make an appointment immediately. The longer you put it off, the more problems you will have with your teeth and gums. The sooner you see your dentist, the faster they’ll be able to put you on a plan to keep your teeth healthy for life.
Dr. Michael Layton (DDS) is the dentist for Peace Arch Dental, a dental office in the South Surrey/White Rock, B.C. area. He has been in the dental industry for the last decade and received his Doctor of Dental Surgery from the University of Washington. He takes pride in helping patients keep their teeth healthy. You can follow him on Google+.