The job of your dentist is to protect the health of your mouth. Through a thorough and comprehensive dental exam at least once a year, your dentist not only cleans your teeth, he also ensures the teeth, gums and other tissues are strong and healthy. But if you aren’t doing your part in between your visits, your dental health can suffer.
“Professional cleanings can remove plaque and tartar and polish your teeth to make your smile beautiful,” says Dr. David Brusky. “But if you aren’t doing your part at home to take care of your smile, you’ll end up needing a lot more than a simple cleaning. Your oral health depends not just on the skill of your dental team, but on your commitment, too.”
Preventive care, the daily flossing, and brushing and regular visits to the dentist, are important. Preventive care is meant to keep you from experiencing oral health problems that can be both costly and painful.
“Nearly 4 billion people worldwide suffer from severe oral health conditions, including severe periodontitis and untreated dental caries,” says Dr. Brusky. “Not everyone around the world, including here in the United States, may have access to proper dental care, which is why dental prevention education is so important to help patients understand the important role they play in the health of their mouths.”
At home, you can remember to brush your teeth twice a day, floss daily, eat a balanced diet, and avoid any harmful habits that may be damaging to your teeth.
We all know the importance of brushing and flossing, but do you realize the impact your diet may be having on your mouth?
“We’ve all heard the saying ‘you are what you eat,’” says Dr. Brusky. “What you eat also has an impact on the health of your teeth and gums. I encourage all of my patients to carefully think through their eating habits to determine what may be causing issues in their mouths. This is especially true for young patients, as dental caries are now the number one chronic childhood disease.”
Foods that contain sugar can be damaging to your teeth. It’s important for patients to limit the amount of sugar they take in each day. Read the labels on all foods and drinks, and choose options that are low in sugar. Dr. Brusky would encourage everyone to see the documentary film “Fed Up” to educate themselves on just how big a problem sugar has become in this country.
It’s important to eat a well-balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to promote the production of saliva. Your saliva works to remove the debris that remains after eating, working to protect your mouth against decay.
“We are an on-the-go society,” says Dr. Brusky. “We grab fast food, or that quick snack from the vending machine because we often don’t think we have time to have that well-balanced meal. But unfortunately, by grabbing that bag of chips and can of soda to save time, we’re contributing to much bigger issues, such as obesity, diabetes, dental decay, and periodontal disease.”
Carbohydrates like the ones found in chips, cookies, and crackers, create an ideal environment for the acids that cause decay. And soda and other drinks that are full of sugar not only add empty calories but work to erode your enamel and damage your teeth over time. Diet sodas are no better because they bathe the teeth in acid, lowering the ability of saliva to buffer against plaque acids.
If we don’t brush after eating, those acids and sugars can continue to eat away at our teeth, leading to cavities and periodontal disease. If you can’t brush after eating, be sure to drink plenty of water to help wash away any food particles that could linger and lead to problems.
It’s also important to avoid habits that can damage your teeth. Smoking and tobacco use are harmful to your smile and your health, but there are a lot of habits many people have that they may not realize are damaging their teeth.
Do you crunch ice? Do you use your teeth as a tool? Do you grind or clench your teeth when you’re stressed or angry? These are all things that can cause harm to your teeth, leading to damage to the enamel and chipping, even fracturing of your teeth.
“Visiting your dentist is a wonderful start to caring for your teeth and gums,” says Dr. Brusky. “But we can’t be the only ones concerned with the health of your mouth. You have to play your part. Having a beautiful, healthy and functional smile starts at home. As a dentist, I want your smile to last you a lifetime – and that can’t happen without proper home care.”