For many, oral hygiene involves brushing their teeth in the morning and before they get into bed at night and maybe flushing the mouth out with mouthwash for fresh breath. While all these things are well and good they are not enough if you want to maintain the best oral hygiene. If you want to have your own natural teeth there are many other things you can do. Good oral hygiene will help you have strong teeth and fresh breath but there is another long term advantage – you avoid disease. Over time plaque builds up on the teeth and gums, causing them to recede and bleed. This can lead to gingivitis and very bad breath or halitosis.
You can prevent the build-up of plaque by ensuring that you brush your teeth at least twice a day and flossing after meals. This removes little food particles that produce the acid that helps bacteria to thrive. You should also make sure that you see a dentist at least twice a year – they will do a thorough cleaning and also get rid of any plaque that may be forming. During your dental checkup your doctor will also look for more serious problems – although many people don’t know it, a lot of diseases can first be detected in the mouth. Cardiovascular problems, for example, can be detected by dentists in the very early stages as can some forms of cancer.
Another important aspect of oral hygiene is diet. When people think about their diet they are usually worried about their weight and not their mouths. What you eat affects your teeth. If your diet contains a lot of sugar you can be sure that not only will it make you fat, it will also lead to tooth decay. Unfortunately, almost 80% of all processed foods contain more sugar than is good for you. You should try and eat organic foods as much as you can. Shop and cook over the weekend so that during the week all you have to do is thaw and warm your meals. Avoid sugary drinks too – they are just as bad as sugary foods.
If you have small children it is very important that you get them interested in oral hygiene as early as possible. You should brush their teeth as soon as they pop from the gums and as they grow up get them into a routine where they brush their teeth at least twice a day. There are projects that you can do to help young kids understand why brushing teeth is so important. You can, for example, take teeth cut-outs, stick them on a board and then paint them with tartar. Get the kids to remove the tartar with an eraser – as they do they will understand what happens when they brush their teeth.
Who is the best dentist for me?
This is an excellent question – there are so many dentists out there that it can be hard to know which one will help you keep your mouth healthy. The first thing you should do is define your needs. Do you need a general dentist or do you need one with a specific set of skills? If you want braces, for example, you may want to choose an orthodontist instead of a dentist. Here are other guidelines to help you find a good dentist:
• Make sure that they operate in sanitary offices. Stories of people getting infections from their dentists are quite common. You should visit their offices to see what kind of a set up they have.
• A good dentist is also a good communicator. They listen to what their patients have to say and they also provide advice that can help them take better care of their teeth. Make sure that you choose a dentist who you feel comfortable with.
• The best dentists invest in all the equipment needed for regular checkups so that they can provide the best care possible. This helps them avoid referring their patients to other dentists unless they have to.
• Choose a dentist who is near your office or your home. Many people will skip dental appointments because the dentist is too far away. If you have to drive halfway across town you may find yourself postponing visits.
• Find out whether the dentist that you have in mind can see you on emergencies. This is especially important if you have problematic teeth.
• Make sure that you choose a dentist who is qualified to look after both adults and children. If he cannot take care of your children’s teeth find out whether he has a pediatric dentist on staff.
How much should I be paying for oral care?
This is a much debated topic with good reason – dentists’ costs vary widely. You may get three different quotes from three different dentists for the same procedure. You obviously don’t want to choose a dentist because they are cheap – they may not be any good. Find a dentist that you can afford and don’t just find out about regular procedures – find out how much they charge for more complex procedures such as root canals and dental implants just in case you need them in the future.