Preventive Care & Hygiene
Preventive dental care starts with you. Many health and lifestyle decisions can affect your dental health! Similarly, many choices you make with your dental health can affect your overall health and lifestyle – more than many people realize. How you care for your teeth and gums, how often you care for them and how effective you are at caring for them all play a role in the level of oral health you can achieve. A few examples include:
- What you eat and what you put in your mouth (e.g. pencils, ice, nuts, popcorn etc.).
- The type(s) of fillings you get – your choice can affect tooth wear opposite the filled tooth, affecting the forces in your bite.
- Your lifestyle – how you sleep, your posture, and how you handle stress.
These examples and many more, all in between how often you see your dentist and hygienist. So, what should you do to give yourself the best chances to stay healthy? Good nutrition for your body’s systems, good sleep habits (which can be adversely affected by your weight, body shape, muscle tone, lack of exercise, stress, clenching of your jaws, grinding of your jaws), hydration levels and muscle tone all contribute significantly to a person’s state of health. But there are more specific things that one can do to stay dentally healthy, and happy. First and foremost, pay attention to your at-home care. Remove plaque on and between your teeth at least every 24 hours by brushing and flossing – use an electric toothbrush. We recommend Sonicare (and we carry them in our office). Beyond your care at home, the two things that you can do to contribute the most to your level of oral health are:
Make your cleanings and routine checkups a priority – at least twice a year.
Good dental hygiene visits include:
- a thorough periodontal exam with your dentist
- plaque and tarter level evaluation and removal using ultrasonic technology
- elimination of bacteria in the mouth using low level laser technology (laser bacterial reduction)
- oral cancer screening
- cavity assessment
- evaluation of existing restorations for breaks, leaks, cracks, and fractures
- evaluation of both soft and hard tissues in the mouth
- evaluation of your Temporomandibular Joints (TMJ), your jaw joints, to evaluate health and function
- evaluation of airway, sleep and breathing
Many of us have lots of dental restorations like fillings, crowns. Even with the advancement in materials and technology, nothing exists that is strong enough to last forever. We never want to wait until something breaks and then fix it. Plan ahead and start to address things in increments before they break or cause pain.
This will also help you budget for your necessary dental health plan, without the unnecessary pressure of issues that could have been prevented! In addition, breakdown of your restorations can cause gum recession and abfraction – the breakage of tooth structure at the gum line (the notching) that some people develop. The breakdown of dental restorations can also lead to an imbalance of bite forces.
For most people who have grinding (bruxism), clenching, TMJ (jaw joint) issues, the inequality of bite forces is a major component of the head and neck pain caused by these issues. Braces (moving the teeth), trauma, and restorations all mean that our teeth may no longer fit together the way nature intended – and that creates inequality, a disequilibrium, of muscle function. In other words, some muscles pull more than others or in ways that they weren’t intended to do so and thereby create painful situations. We recommend replacing older restorations in groups, enabling us to achieve healthier results by creating ideal functionality in the way your mouth and teeth work.
So what’s your quick and to the point “need-to-know” list on oral health prevention?
10 Ways to Keep You Out of the Dentist’s Chair
- Clean your mouth every day.
- Be careful what you chew. The wrong things can break or loosen something.
- Be careful how you eat. Not eating any sugary foods isn’t very realistic – but concentrate on the timeframe in which you do. It is far better to eat lots of sugar in a short time frame than it is to eat a little bit but take hours to do so.
- Pay attention to your body. Aches, pains, sensitivities all mean something; talk to your dentist about them. If you find a bump, a swelling, a sore that isn’t healing, tell us.
- Don’t just fix something when it breaks. Think ahead! Doing so may provide a significant improvement in function and less likelihood of pain. It may very well mean less dollars into treatment when planned for and taken care of ahead of time.
- Follow good overall health habits by exercising, eating right, sleeping right, and keeping your weight down. By doing so you can keep your muscles toned, your posture good and your muscle balance good. These things provide balance in your life that greatly contribute to higher levels of health.
- Be critical of your sleep habits. If you are always tired, don’t stay asleep at night, fall asleep at inopportune times, you may have a problem that needs to be evaluated. Sleep apnea is an epidemic in our country that is critical to your health.
- Remember bleeding gums are not natural. You wouldn’t expect the skin on your arm to bleed if you rub it – your gums shouldn’t either. Ridding your body of this infection is critical to your health.
- Fixing broken teeth is important to ensuring that your muscles are kept in balance so that your bite forces don’t create more imbalance.
- We love seeing every one of our patients – but let’s make it a planned thing! Come in for routine cleanings at least twice a year and exams at least once a year. We’ll keep you up to date and out of unexpected trouble with your oral health.