Permanent adult teeth should be exactly that – permanent. They’re designed to serve you well for as long as you live. With care, and barring accidents, your teeth will do exactly that.
A number of dentists have gone on record to state, “Tooth decay is absolutely preventable.” Some people may roll their eyes when they read that. It’s true that a very, very small percentage of people have genetic reasons for having problems with their teeth. For the rest of us, keeping our teeth for life is a matter of taking care of them.
You Do Your Part…
Are you tired of being told to brush twice a day and floss at least once? There’s a good reason why dental professionals say that, and that reason is dental plaque.
Plaque is a sticky film that forms when the bacteria in your mouth mix with your saliva. That film collects on the gum line around and between your teeth, and it keeps those bacteria in close contact with the enamel that covers and protects your teeth.
When the bacteria eat the sugars in our foods, they secrete acid. That acid begins to erode the enamel and will ultimately cause cavities, given enough time.
Thorough brushing and flossing removes the plaque and avoids the erosion of your tooth enamel. Plaque begins to re-form within 24 hours, though, so regular brushing and flossing are crucial.
Keep the plaque off your teeth and gums, and you won’t get cavities in teeth with intact enamel. It’s that simple. But it does require a consistent, thorough effort on your part to maintain good oral hygiene.
Plaque is also the cause of gum disease. In its early stages, gum disease is easily treated. The advanced stage of gum disease is called periodontitis, and periodontitis can lead to dental infections, tooth loss, and effects on your general health.
Tips for Removing Plaque
Choose a small-headed toothbrush to make it easy to reach all the little crevices around your teeth. Select a toothbrush that also has soft bristles; plaque is a film that’s easily removed, so there’s no need to risk wearing down your enamel by using stiff or hard bristles. For the same reason, go easy on whitening toothpastes. Almost all of them contain abrasives that scrub off stains, taking tiny amounts of enamel with them.
Brush with light pressure, but spend some time at it. Two minutes is the usual recommendation for brushing your teeth. Make sure to floss to remove plaque between teeth.
You can also use an antibacterial mouthwash to help slow plaque formation.
…And We’ll Do Our Part.
Make sure to get dental cleanings and checkups every six months or more often if recommended by your dentist. Even people who brush and floss regularly can miss small amounts of plaque because it’s hard to see the backs of your teeth. And it can be hard or even impossible to floss between two teeth if one tooth is crooked.
Our dental hygienists will detect and remove even the smallest traces of plaque from the tiniest of crevices. They can also give you tips for better brushing and flossing.
During your checkup, Dr. Hurcomb will evaluate the condition of your entire mouth and all of your teeth. If you have dental restorations like fillings, it’s even more crucial to have checkups. Fillings can crack without you being aware of it. The crack can allow bacteria to enter the interior of the tooth, causing infection.
If there are other dental conditions that are contributing to tooth decay, Dr. Hurcomb will discuss your best options for dealing with them. For instance, in the case of a misaligned tooth, Invisalign® clear dental aligners can comfortably realign the tooth and without the embarrassment of metal braces.
There are also a variety of professional dental treatments that can make your teeth more resistant to decay.
Your Natural Teeth are Best
If you keep your natural teeth in good shape, you’ll save a lot of time and money. You’ll also enhance your health. Malnutrition is common in people with extensive dental problems. Being able to eat without discomfort means that you can eat a balanced diet, chew thoroughly, and get the maximum amount of nutrients from your food.
Avoiding dental infections saves you a lot pain and inconvenience. You’ll also avoid the possibility of a dental infection contributing to problems with your heart, lungs, or even diabetes.
Has it been a while since you had a cleaning and exam? You can use our online scheduling application which will collect all the information necessary to provide you with dental care. It also allows you to choose the date and time for your appointment that works well with your schedule.
We’re committed to helping every one of our patients keep their teeth in the best possible shape and for as long as they live.