Avoiding and Combating Tooth Decay
Preventing Tooth Decay and Loss
Tooth decay can lead to several serious health problems, including tooth loss and possible infection. While it's normal to lose baby teeth as children, once the permanent teeth come in, we should do everything possible to keep them. Every tooth that falls out leaves an unsightly gap. Remaining teeth may shift, slide, or tilt to fill the gap, creating even more issues to be dealt with. In addition, bacteria that grows around the teeth and under the gum line often weakens teeth and can cause infection that, over time, may circulate throughout the body and lead to more substantial health issues.
Protecting your tooth enamel from germs and erosion should be part of your daily hygiene routine. The following steps can help you keep teeth strong and healthy.
Practice Oral Hygiene
Dental experts recommending brushing your teeth at least twice a day, morning and evening. If you can brush after meals and snacks as well, that's even better. Also use dental floss to clean between teeth and under the gum line. You will be surprised at the debris that flossing can remove. A fluoride rinse or mouthwash is a great way to finish your daily dental hygiene.
Get Regular Dental Exams
Twice-yearly dental checkups are the standard recommendation for most people. Some with special conditions like a chronic illness or specialized treatment should see the dentist more often. During a typical checkup, the dental hygienist will use special tools to clean your teeth, followed by brushing. X-rays may be taken to check for cavities or other problems. The dentist then visually inspects your mouth for tooth issues and feels the soft tissues to check for cancer or sores. The jaw bone may be evaluated as well for TMJ, or chewing disorders. Catching problems early leads to prompt, effective treatment that can head off more serious conditions later.
Avoid Excessive Snack Foods
Sticky candy, crunchy peanuts and popcorn, and carbonated beverages should be enjoyed in moderation, as they have the potential to damage teeth in various ways by chipping or eroding them. Chewing gum is sometimes recommended as a healthier alternative, as it actually helps to remove food stuck between teeth. If you can't brush after snacking, rinse your mouth with clear water to keep unwanted residue from sticking to your teeth.
Steps like these can help you maintain healthy, strong teeth. Follow a sensible daily routine to make yours last.