Taking Care of Your Teeth
The most important thing you can do to maintain good oral health is to brush and floss your teeth every day and visit your dentist regularly.
Most mouth ailments are caused by plaque, that sticky layer of microorganisms, food particles and other organic matter that forms on your teeth. Bacteria in plaque produce acids that cause cavities. Plaque also leads to periodontal (gum) disease, a potentially serious infection that can erode bone and destroy the tissues surrounding teeth.
The best defense is to remove plaque daily before it has a chance to build up and cause problems. Brushing removes plaque from the large surfaces of the teeth and, if done correctly, from just under the gums. Flossing removes plaque between teeth.
Brush at least twice a day for at least 2 minutes. Many oral/healthcare professionals recommend brushing just before going to bed. When you sleep, saliva decreases, leaving the teeth more vulnerable to bacterial acids. Brush lightly – brushing too hard can cause gums to recede. Once plaque has hardened into calculus (tartar), brushing can’t remove it, so brushing harder won’t help.
Always use a toothbrush with “soft” or “extra soft” bristles – the harder the brush, the greater the risk of harming gum tissue.
Change your toothbrush regularly – as soon as the bristles begin to splay, the toothbrush loses its ability to clean properly. Throw away your old toothbrush after three months or when the bristles flare, whichever comes first. If you find your bristles flaring much sooner than three months, you may be brushing too hard. Try easing up.
Floss once a day – although there is no research to recommend an optimum number of times to floss, most dentists recommend a thorough flossing at least once a day. If you tend to get food trapped between teeth, flossing more often can help remove it. There are new products which some of our patients have found to be helpful to clean between teeth. Ask Dr. Peters for a sample.
Mouthwashes and Rinses
Your choice of mouthwashes or rinses will be guided by your personal oral care needs. Over-the-counter rinses are available to freshen breath, provide fluoride and kill plaque bacteria. Ask Dr. Peters or your dental hygienist to recommend the type of rinse that would be best for you.
A Healthy Diet
Eating a well-balanced diet that limits starchy foods, sugary foods and sports drinks will greatly reduce your risk of developing tooth decay. Soft drinks are a leading cause of tooth decay. The sugar in soft drinks combine with the bacteria in the mouth to produce acid that can destroy the teeth. You’re at even greater risk if you sip pop throughout the day, since that exposes your teeth to the sugars and acids for longer periods and is even more likely to result in tooth decay.
Use dental products that contain fluoride, including toothpaste. Make sure that your children’s drinking water is fluoridated. If your water supply does not contain fluoride, Dr. Peters will prescribe daily fluoride supplements appropriate for your child’s age.