Hundreds of years ago, it was nearly impossible to keep your teeth, but thanks to the wonders of modern dentistry and proper home care and maintenance, keeping and preserving your pearly whites has never been easier.
Although decay prevention has come a long way, one in four children will show early signs of tooth decay, and this is before they ever attend a day of school. Dental care needs to begin at the age of around six months when the first tooth usually appears. You can wipe teeth clean with a cloth or a very soft brush supervising their own brushing around the age of two.
When your kids molars begin to come in, talk to your dentist about dental sealants. Sealants have been used to prevent tooth decay in the pits and fissures on the chewing surfaces of molars. The thin protective coating that is painted on by your dentist will reduce cavities according to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention. Adults who have molars without restorations may also be good candidates for dental sealants.
Fluoride is most probably the most significant advance in oral health as it strengthens the enamel on your teeth and helps to prevent tooth decay. Most water is fluoridated, but if yours is not, talk to your dentist about fluoride application. There are also toothpastes and mouthwashes that contain fluoride as well.
Gum disease and tooth decay can be prevented if you brush twice and floss once each day. Make sure that you change your toothbrush about four times a year. Ask your dentist about electric toothbrushes and other oral hygiene tools that can help prevent tooth decay and gum disease.
In addition to brushing once and flossing twice a day dentists recommend that you chew gum, or rinse your mouth after eating as this can help prevent gum problems and tooth decay. Sugar free gum will help get your saliva going, which will wash away the bacteria while neutralizing damaging acids and bacteria.
Sporting activities can be dangerous to your teeth if you or your kids do not wear mouth guards. Even an afternoon on roller blades without proper protection could prove problematic, especially after a bad fall. Ask your dentist about custom fitted mouth guards for you and your kids.
Tobacco will stain your teeth and puts you at significant risk when it comes to oral cancer and gum disease. If you smoke or chew tobacco quit now, or talk to your doctor about a good program that will help you stop smoking or chewing tobacco.
Eat a well balanced diet that is full of nuts, grains, dairy products, fruits, and vegetables. Healthy Omega-3 fats that you find in fish may also help to reduce inflammation, which can lower the risks of gum disease.
Skip the sugar, as it will form bacteria in your mouth producing acids that will erode the enamel on your teeth. Fruit drinks and soda also pose a threat, as most people tend to sip raising the dangerous acid levels, especially with long-term use. According to the American Dental Association, carbonated drinks will make matters even worse.
Experts recommend that you see your dentist twice a year or more so if you are treating gum disease. Contact your dentist today and schedule a checkup. Good oral hygiene can help you keep your teeth for the rest of your life.
Dr. Michael Layton (DDS) is a dentist based 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 providing positive and caring dental solutions for people of every walk of life. You can follow him on Google+.