Good dental health is something everyone strives for. The trick is being proactive with your dental hygiene. Here are some easy ways to keep your mouth healthy and your smile bright. See how many you can incorporate into you and your family’s dental health regimen.
· Regular brushing and flossing. Brushing daily and flossing between your teeth is important because it helps remove plaque. If the plaque isn’t removed, it can cause tooth decay and gum disease. You should brush your teeth at least twice daily and replace your toothbrush every 3 – 4 months, or when the bristles get worn. Be sure to check out Dr. Hagerman’s nine tips for better brushing, which includes brushing your tongue and to brush using short strokes.
· Sugar is sweet, but also problematic. Residue left from foods and drinks that are high in sugar can invite bacteria to have a field day in your mouth. The bacteria get energy from the sugar, and in the process produce acid that can damage teeth, causing damage to tooth enamel.
· Don’t be fooled by “sugar-free.” Staying away from sugary treats is important, but did you know that sugar-free drinks can invite problems because they often are high in citric acid and phosphoric acid, both of which can damage your teeth? Be sure to rinse your mouth with water after consuming acidic beverages – and before brushing your teeth. That’s because immediate brushing could cause further damage by forcefully applying the acid to enamel.
· Just say no to smokeless tobacco. If you are among those who believe that using smokeless tobacco keeps you safe from cancer risks that come with smoking, think again. Not only is this untrue, but smokeless tobacco users have higher levels of cancer-causing chemicals in their bloodstream than do regular cigarette smokers, according to a recent study. If you are using chewing tobacco – snuff, dip, or chew – you should stop immediately. If that is easier said than done, consult your health care professional for a treatment plan to help wean you off this dangerous habit.
· Athletes, use mouth guards. Your child’s mouth, teeth, tongue, and gums may be injured during contact sports, such as football and hockey; or impact sports, such as gymnastics or diving. Impacts can cause your child to tear mouth tissues, chip teeth, or even lose teeth. The best way to prevent injury to the mouth during these and other high-contact or high-impact sports is the use of a mouth guard, which are protective coverings worn over the teeth.
· Adults need mouth guards, too. Mouth guards are not just for young athletes; adult athletes, as well as those who may work in high-risk professions (for example, working construction or driving across rough or rocky terrain) may need extra protection from vibrations and jolting movement. And did you know that grinding your teeth while sleeping can cause significant jaw pain, tension headaches, broken or cracked teeth and damage to enamel? Once the enamel on teeth has been destroyed or worn away, it does not regrow or repair itself; it must be treated by a dentist. Mouth guards may be an easy remedy to prevent teeth grinding.
· Check your fillings. Fillings are substances used to restore teeth following tooth decay or injury. Advances in dentistry have made fillings less obvious and more resilient than before, so if your fillings are decades old, they may need to be reevaluated before they either fall out or cause a tooth to crack.
The bottom line is: know your mouth. The best course of action is to schedule regular preventive care checkups with your dentist and to discuss the best course of action for you and your family’s dental health.
If you feel that something is wrong, whether it is a dull pain, sensitivity to hot or cold, or you have a concern about a worsening condition, see your dentist immediately. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Steven Hagerman for you or your family, call (651) 646-2392 or use our convenient online appointment request form.