Preventive dentistry is the best bargain available. Through good oral hygiene and regular dental checkups, you can avoid a root canal and get a simple crown instead, or get a filling instead of a crown. And those fillings? Many of them you just won’t need at all. That’s what makes preventive dentistry our favorite kind of all.
Your Daily Cleanings
The most important part of your oral hygiene protection is your daily cleaning routine. Brush twice every day and floss once a day to make sure your teeth are clean.
Make sure you’re brushing for at least two minutes, but not more than three on a regular basis. You might think that if a little tooth brushing is good, then more must be better, but that’s not the case. Instead, over-brushing your teeth can lead to erosion of your tooth enamel, the smooth white outer coating on your teeth.
But that’s not the only way your daily cleaning can contribute to erosion of your teeth. If you brush too many times a day, you can also cause erosion. Stick to twice a day most days, with a third time only occasionally. Instead, keep teeth clean by chewing gum after a meal, ending your meal with hard, crunchy raw vegetables, then rinse with water. Also, try to avoid between-meal snacks.
Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to help avoid erosion, and make sure your toothpaste isn’t too abrasive.
And, of course, making regular dental appointment and getting a dental cleaning are also vital to helping keep your teeth clean.
How Often Do You Need to See the Dentist?
In general, the American Dental Association recommends that you make regular dental visits every six months, but that number isn’t ideal for everyone. You may need to see a dentist more often if:
- You have gum disease
- You have an elevated genetic risk for gum disease or tooth decay
- You have diabetes or other conditions that increase gum disease risk
- You have a compromised immune system
- You have dental implants or other vulnerable restorations
For other people who are at a very low risk for gum disease or tooth decay, we may recommend fewer visits.
Professional Dental Cleanings
Of course, professional dental cleanings are also vital to protecting your oral health. The goal of your daily oral hygiene is to remove food debris and oral bacteria that are clinging to your teeth in a muck called “plaque.” Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to remove all the plaque all the time. When plaque isn’t removed, it takes in some of the minerals from your saliva (there to help keep your teeth strong), and turns into hard tartar. Tartar can’t be removed by brushing—it requires a professional dental cleaning when we can scrape it away.
If you don’t remove tartar, it can provide shelter for bacteria, making it easier for them to gain a foothold under your gums, potentially increasing your risk of gum disease.
Your checkup will include a detailed inspection of your teeth, gums, and any dental restorations you have. Regular inspections let us detect any developing problems and recommend solutions while the problems are still small—and the solutions can be, too.