Nearly everyone has heard the old saying that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This saying is as true today as when your grandparents said it, especially when it comes to your oral health. Preventative measures, such as brushing and flossing your teeth and visiting your dental professional regularly, is an important component for maintaining healthy teeth and gums.
Brushing and flossing your teeth regularly is important for removing plaque and reducing the number of food particles and harmful bacteria in your mouth. If the bacteria are allowed to grow and mix with food particles and white blood cells, it will form plaque, which is a sticky, clear film that coats the teeth. If the plaque is not removed by brushing and flossing, it will form tartar, which is a hard yellow film. Tartar not only looks unattractive, but it is also harmful to your teeth and difficult to remove. The bacteria in plaque and tartar contribute to dental infections, tooth decay, periodontal disease, and even general health problems such as heart and lung infections.
Patients should brush their teeth in the morning, at night, and after each snack or beverage that contains sugar. Sugar acts as food for the harmful bacteria, so it is especially important to remove it as soon as possible to prevent bacteria growth. In addition, patients should floss at least once per day to remove plaque, bacteria, and food particles from between the teeth. If you are not sure of the proper brushing and flossing techniques, ask your dentist for help. He or she will be glad to offer you instructions and pointers to improve your technique.
In addition to brushing and flossing, you should also see your dental professional on a regular basis for routine cleanings and examinations. During these cleanings, your dentist removes plaque and tartar from hard to reach places before they can lead to tooth decay or gum disease. The examinations help dentists find and treat oral health problems before they become serious.
Some dental offices also offer prevention programs, such as CariFree. These programs can further reduce your chances of developing tooth decay and other oral health problems. Ask your dentist for details on the programs offered.