We all know how important it is to take care of our teeth. But it never hurts to have a reminder of the fundamentals of home tooth care. Although we love to see our patients, we know you’d like it better if you didn’t need to come in more than the twice yearly check-ups and cleanings that we recommend. Here are a few tips to help prevent unwanted dental problems.
Brush Your Teeth
Seems pretty obvious, doesn’t it? Brush your teeth twice a day? But how easy is it to stumble into bed after a long day at work, or perhaps an energetic night out, and think, Oh I’m just too tired, I’ll do it in the morning.
Before bed brushing is probably one of the most important things you can do for yourself. Just imagine how many things you’ve eaten or drank over the course of your day. All the residue of that food and beverage, is now sitting on your teeth, slowly decaying, slowly feeding the ever-present bacteria in your mouth, helping to solidify that film of plaque that covers your teeth. Eating away at the enamel of your teeth. And it’s going to be sitting there, all night – aaaaal niiiight…
Floss Your Teeth
This really isn’t optional. Flossing is so important, because there are so many little nooks and crannies hidden between your teeth – places that you can’t possibly reach with your toothbrush. For the same reason that it’s so important to brush your teeth, it’s also vital that you remember to floss. All of those decaying food particles can do as much damage to the hidden surfaces of your teeth as they can to the parts that are more accessible.
The parts of your teeth that depend on flossing are more vulnerable for a few reasons. Not only are they harder to reach with a toothbrush during brushing, but they are also less apt to receive the benefits of water you may drink during the day. Even saliva, that helps to fight the effects of acid-producing bacteria, may have a harder time reaching these relatively inaccessible surfaces.
Cut Down on Your Sugar Intake
By now we should all be familiar with the fact that sugar is the primary cause of cavities. It functions as the main food for the bacteria that produces cavity-causing acids in our mouths. Sugar is often found in sticky foods that are more likely to adhere to the surfaces of your teeth. Candies, pastry and other sweets can leave lingering residue that goes straight to work on starting cavity formation. Other sweet things like jelly and syrup often accompany sticky foods like peanut butter or pancakes. If left undisturbed, they will also contribute to the accumulation of plaque on the teeth.
Now here’s the part that may be one of the more vital pieces of healthcare advice for our time.
You may have noticed that we are hearing more and more about the dangers of sugar when it comes to overall health. The increased amount of sugar in our overall diet has been named as the culprit for a significant rise in the incidence of potentially deadly conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and morbid obesity.
Research is showing that the high amount of sugar we ingest may even be more dangerous than the amount of fat we take in. Sugar, and particularly processed sugar, is linked to a variety of inflammatory processes. There is even a link cited with cancer. We must also remember that carbohydrates – that is, bread, cake, pastries, and cookies – also end up as sugar inside the body.
Perhaps it’s no coincidence that the very foods that cause an increase in harmful bacteria in the mouth are also now being shown to be linked with dangerous conditions that occur elsewhere in the body. It’s for both of these reasons that we consider cutting down on sugar to be an essential part of a daily home tooth care regimen. Especially when we consider that there are some wonderful alternative snacks to be found in fresh fruits and vegetables, snacks that also provide essential vitamins and minerals, and not just empty calories, we think it’s a good piece of advice.
Besides, if you can prevent cavities at the same time as you cut down on the risk of gaining too much weight and developing serious health problems, it seems like a win-win situation, doesn’t it? Of course there’s still room for the occasional treat, but as they say, everything in moderation.