Good oral health is essential for a healthy smile. The mouth is home to colonies of microorganisms like bacteria and viruses, and when controlled by daily brushing and flossing, your oral health can thrive. Conversely, consuming a high sugar diet that feeds the bad bacteria creates harmful acids that erode your tooth enamel and lead to cavities. It also happens when you neglect your daily oral hygiene routine.
But it’s not just your teeth that can suffer. This sticky, bacterial film (plaque) congregates around the gum line. If it isn’t removed daily, it hardens into tartar, irritating gum tissue, and leaving you with gingivitis (the early stage of gum disease). If tartar isn’t removed by a professional dental cleaning using special tools, your gums can recede or pull away from the teeth, causing gum pockets (periodontitis) that allow your teeth to loosen and possibly fall out.
Other factors leaving you more susceptible to gum disease include having a medical condition like diabetes, using medications that leave you with a chronic dry mouth or having a family history of gum disease.
Six-month dental checkups and cleanings are vital since treating dental and oral diseases early can give our team time to spot problems before they grow. We can examine your mouth, teeth, gum pockets, tongue, cheeks, throat, jaw, and neck with the help of X-rays so problems can be addressed quickly and efficiently. What kind of dental diseases are we looking to find?
- Cavities: Damage to a tooth from plaque that can leave a hole in enamel that allows decay to spread.
- Gingivitis: Gum disease that makes your inflamed gums bleed and become swollen that can worsen without intervention.
- Periodontitis: Untreated gum disease from an infection that can spread to the bone supporting the teeth and throughout your body.
- Tooth sensitivity: Pain from consuming hot or cold food and beverages, often arising from worn dental fillings or crowns, gum recession, cracks in a tooth, or having thin enamel.
- Oral cancer: Chronic tobacco use or excessive alcohol consumption places you at higher risk for this disease.
Poor oral health is also connected to health problems in the body like heart disease, stroke, low birth rate babies and premature birth. Treating dental problems with fillings, crowns and dental sealants to protect molars are effective methods of treating tooth problems. A root canal can often save a damaged tooth from extraction while dental implants, bridges or dentures can replace teeth that are extracted. No matter what stage a dental problem exists, treatment is available.
What You Can Do at Home
Just as you eat right and exercise to take care of your body, you want to brush and floss daily to care for your mouth. Brushing at least twice a day and flossing once removes harmful bacterial plaque and helps preserve teeth and gums.
You can boost your hygiene routine with an antibacterial mouthwash, upgrade to an electric or battery-powered toothbrush or use a water flosser to get rid of trapped food particles where brushing can’t. Follow up this daily care with biannual dental cleanings to remove plaque and detect dental problems early.
Follow a balanced diet that gives your body the disease-fighting tools it needs. Fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, leafy greens, lean proteins, and dairies (like cheese, milk and plain yogurt) provide essential vitamins and minerals. Drink plenty of water during the day, and add green or black teas rich in polyphenols to help get rid of bad bacteria in the mouth.
Boost healthy saliva production by limiting caffeinated drinks and alcohol and staying hydrated throughout the day. Saliva washes away harmful bacteria, and with its traces of calcium and phosphate, it replenishes minerals to parts of your teeth that have lost them from plaque. Chewing sugarless gum can also ramp up healthy saliva flow.
The bottom line is good oral health depends on doing everything you can do to prevent tooth decay and cavities from taking over your smile. Give our team a call if you have any concerns about your oral health or schedule a visit. Together we can create your healthiest smile!