Dental health: Tips for proper dental health

Get daily dental health care tips and learn ways to protect your dental health.

Your mouth plays a vital role in a variety of dental processes, from breaking food into small particles so it can be swallowed and digested to enabling verbal communication to serving as a first line of defense for the body by preventing microbes and other harmful agents from entering your system. Learning dental health is a little about the structure of your mouth will help you maintain the best possible dental health.

There are other steps you should take if you want to keep your teeth for a lifetime. Some people assume they will lose their teeth as they age. That doesn’t have to happen, these steps to keep your teeth and your mouth healthy.

Step 1: Understand your own dental health needs.

Your dental health depends on many factors. These include what you eat, the type and amount of saliva in your mouth, your habits, your overall health and your oral hygiene routine. Changes in your overall health status often result in changes in your dental health. For example, many medicines, including more than 300 common drugs, can reduce the amount of saliva in your mouth, resulting in dry mouth.

Women who are pregnant go through oral changes. This often includes inflammation of the gums, which is called pregnancy gingivitis. Patients with asthma often breathe through their mouths, particularly when sleeping. This can result in dry mouth and increased plaque formation and gingivitis.

Step 2: Brush and floss to remove plaque.

Everyone should brush at least twice a day. It’s even better to brush three times a day or after every meal. In addition, you should floss at least once a day. These activities remove plaque, which is a complex mass of bacteria that constantly forms on your teeth. If plaque isn’t removed every day, it can turn the sugars found in most foods and drinks into acids that lead to decay. Bacteria in plaque also cause gingivitis and other periodontal diseases. It’s important to brush and floss correctly and thoroughly. You need to remove plaque from all sides of the tooth and where the tooth meets the gums. If plaque is not removed, it can lead to gum problems and cavities.

Brushing for dental health

1) Brush your teeth at least twice a day and ideally after every meal, using fluoride-containing toothpaste.

2) Use a soft-bristled toothbrush.

3) To brush properly, hold your toothbrush at a slight angle against your teeth and use short back-and-forth motions.

4) Brush the inside and chewing surfaces of your teeth.

5) Brush your teeth for about two minutes each time you brush.

6) Brush your tongue.

7) Avoid vigorous or harsh scrubbing, which can irritate your gums.

8) Replace your toothbrush every three or four months, or sooner if it becomes frayed.

Consider using an electric toothbrush, especially if you have arthritis or other problems that make it difficult to brush well.

Flossing for oral health

A toothbrush can’t reach all the tight spaces between your teeth or the areas under your gumline. That can allow plaque to build up, threatening your oral health. Flossing, though, removes those particles and improves oral health.

Follow these tips on how to floss your teeth:

When you floss, gently ease the floss between your teeth. Pull the ends of the floss against the front and back surface of a tooth so that the floss forms a “C” as it wraps around the tooth. Gently pull the floss from the gumline to the top of the tooth to scrape off plaque. Floss the backs of your teeth. Use fresh floss as you progress through your teeth. If you have trouble getting floss through your teeth, try waxed floss. If it’s hard to manipulate the floss, try using a floss holder.

Step 3: Limit snacks, particularly those high in simple sugars, and eat a balanced diet.

Every time you eat, bits of food become lodged in and around your teeth. This food provides fuel for the bacteria in plaque. The bacteria produce acid. Each time you eat food containing sugars or starches (complex sugars), your teeth are exposed to these acids for 20 minutes or more. This occurs more often if you eat snacks and the food stays on your teeth for a while. These repeated acid attacks can break down the enamel surface of your teeth, leading to a cavity. If you must snack, brush your teeth or chew sugarless gum afterward.

A balanced diet is also important. Not getting enough minerals and vitamins can affect your dental health, as well as your general health.

Step 4: If you use tobacco in any form, quit.

Smoking or using smokeless tobacco increases your risk of oral cancer, gingivitis, periodontitis and tooth decay. Using tobacco also contributes to bad breath and stains on your teeth.

Step 5: Examine your mouth regularly.

Even if you visit your dentist regularly, you are in the best position to notice changes in your mouth. Your dentist and dental hygienist see you only a few times a year, but you can examine your mouth weekly to look for changes that might be of concern.

A regular examination is particularly important for tobacco users, who are at increased risk of developing oral cancer. If you smoke or use smokeless tobacco, your dentist or dental hygienist can show you where a sore, spot, patch or lump is most likely to appear.

Call your dentist promptly if you develop any of the following signs and symptoms that may suggest dental health problems:

1) Red, tender or swollen gums

2) Gums that bleed when you’re regularly brushing and flossing

3) Gums that are pulling away from your teeth, which may make your teeth seem longer

4) Pus around your teeth and gums when you press on the gums

5) A bad taste in your mouth

6) Loose teeth

7) Changes in the way your top and bottom teeth touch

8) Changes in the feel of your dentures

9) Sensitivity to hot and cold

Other oral health care tips

Brushing and flossing are the mainstays of good dental health. In addition to those, you may also want to consider these oral health tips:

1) Use an interdental cleaner, such as a dental pick or dental stick specially designed to clean between your teeth.

2) Use a mouth rinse to help reduce plaque between your teeth.

3) Use oral irrigators, or devices that aim a stream of water at your teeth, to remove food particles.

4) Don’t use toothpicks or other objects that aren’t made to clean your teeth.

Published in: on September 2, 2008 at 4:10 pm  Leave a Comment  
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