Seeing your dentist at least twice a year demonstrates your commitment to good oral health care beyond the everyday routine you have established at home. That twice-yearly professional cleaning and polishing removes any buildup of tartar and plaque, and your dentist will give you a full oral exam that can find small problems before they get bigger, such as replacing a loose filling or screening for oral cancer. What you do between visits to the dentist determines the health and beauty of your teeth and gums. Straight from the dentist’s chair, here is a guide to at-home tooth care.
Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste for about two minutes each time. Regular brushing according to this rule will reduce the amount of time spent in the dentist’s chair when you go in for a checkup. Brushing more frequently may be helpful for some people, for example, to brush after lunch or if you have a snack in the afternoon. However, take care not to use a toothbrush that is too stiff and hard as it may wear away the enamel on your teeth and hurt your gums. When brushing, choose a soft toothbrush and be sure to gently brush front, back and between teeth, as well as to very gently stimulate your gums (again, the toothbrush must be soft), and gently brush your tongue. Fluoride toothpaste has been shown to reduce the incidence of cavities by 16-30%, so spend about 30 seconds brushing each quarter of your teeth (upper left, upper right, etc.) twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste.
Dentists and hygienists constantly remind their patients to floss every day. Recently, however, the ADA has changed flossing” to the more appealing “cleaning between your teeth.” That’s because there are other ways to reach the space between teeth than flossing. For those who don’t like to floss, try a water pick-type device, or toothbrushes designed to reach between teeth. While there is no real substitute for flossing, some effort is better than none.
Plaque provides a home for bacteria, it also allows them to produce the acid that erodes the tooth’s surface. Believe it or not, it’s that acid that causes the cavities, not the sugar. Stay away from sugar and acidic foods, which create a haven for plaque-causing bacteria.
Because of the relationship of oral bacteria to gum disease and cavities, using a mouthwash that kills bacteria may help reduce the risk of gingivitis. The act of rinsing and swishing may also help to remove food between the teeth.
Can’t get to brushing often? Chewing a piece of dentist-recommended sugarless gum will actually latch onto and remove the plaque, food morsels and bacteria, and also can produce saliva, which is nature’s mouthwash.
It’s recommended that you see your dentist at least twice a year to maintain good oral health. In between visits, you need to be dedicating time to your teeth and gums to ensure those two dental visits (or more) don’t turn into a series of dental procedures.
Dr. Ernie Soto serves patients of all ages in Broward County for comprehensive dental care, including orthodontics and cosmetic dentistry. Call (954) 368-6264 for an appointment today. We provide thorough and gentle cleanings, as well as guidance for maintaining your best possible smile.