Most people can keep their teeth and gums healthy by brushing after meals, flossing daily, and visiting the dentist twice a year for an exam and preventive cleaning. When these preventive procedures are not enough, you may develop tooth decay or gum disease which will need to be addressed promptly in order to prevent further damage. To avoid additional dental visits, extra expense, and discomfort, patients should follow these oral hygiene practices. When it comes to preventive care, yours is our number one priority at 7 Day Dental.
Home Care: Brushing and Flossing
Brushing and flossing are the two essential ways to maintain your oral hygiene. It is recommended that you brush your teeth after every meal or at least twice a day, since the bacterial activities on your teeth starts immediately after eating. Flossing helps in removing the plaque and the bacteria between your teeth that your toothbrush cannot reach, so flossing at least once a day, is very important. When you brush and floss, you remove the bacteria in your mouth that causes plaque, tooth decay and gum disease. These practices are the foundation of preventive care.
Periodic professional cleaning by a dental hygienist or dentist goes hand in hand with daily brushing and flossing to maintain good oral health. Our natural oral bacteria start to convert the carbohydrates in food into acid and plaque within minutes of eating or drinking. When plaque stays on the teeth it becomes tartar, which is harder to remove. A professional cleaning involves removing the plaque and tartar buildup from the teeth and along the gumline. After the cleaning, the hygienist will polish the teeth with a concentrated fluoride paste for extra protection. Most dental insurance plans pay for 2 cleanings per year.
If the dentist sees deep pockets in the gums or any evidence of gum disease, he/she may recommend a deep cleaning procedure to remove the extra buildup of tartar and bacteria below the gumline. Both regular preventive cleaning and deep cleaning use a scaling instrument, but the deep cleaning goes below the gumline and also includes a root planing procedure. When your hygienist or dentist recommends deep cleaning, remember that it’s an essential part of preventive care to avoid further damage which can cause pain and require complicated, costly procedures.
Sealants are thin, protective coatings painted on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. Because the chewing surfaces of the molars have numerous pits and fissures, food particles and germs can become trapped there and they can be hard to clean. Sealants are especially recommended for children’s preventive care. They can last up to 10 years and need to be checked at regular dental exams for damage, which can usually be fixed by adding more sealant material.
Fluoride Varnish is a highly concentrated form of fluoride applied topically by a dental professional. For maximum benefit, varnish is usually applied following a regular professional cleaning or deep cleaning. Scientific studies have found that fluoride varnish provides additional defense to teeth against decay, especially when used in addition to frequently brushing teeth with fluoride toothpaste and daily flossing.
Early Dental Care for Babies
Dental problems often start early in a child’s life. It is important for parents to know how to care for the oral health of their infants, toddlers and children. A child’s first visit to the dentist should occur within 6 months of the eruption of the first tooth. That is usually between 6 months and 1 year of age. Even before that, a parent should care for his/her baby’s oral health by wiping the gums with a soft washcloth or gauze after feeding. Our 7 Day Dental preventive care experts can advise you on caring for your children’s oral health at every stage of their lives.
The same dietary choices that benefit your other body parts are good for your teeth and gums. Proteins, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants all play a role in maintaining oral health.
Here are some basic rules:
- Eat a mostly whole foods diet with lots of lean protein and fresh vegetables.
- Avoid most processed foods, especially those that are high in simple sugars.
- Limit snacking between meals.
- Avoid starchy snacks and drinks sweetened with sugar or high-fructose corn syrup.
- Take supplements of fish oil and any nutrients that may be lacking in your diet.
Oral Cancer Screening
Oral cancer screening is a quick and painless exam that can detect precancerous abnormalities and help prevent the spread of deadly oral cancer by early detection! Cancer of the mouth, when detected early, can be successfully treated in about 90% of patients. The catch is “early detection”. That is why 7 Day Dental recommends a yearly oral cancer screening with Vizilite® Plus in our office.