Preventive Dentistry at Home
There are a number of great things you can do at home in order to make sure that your regular dental exams and cleanings go as smoothly as possible. Here are a few of the things you should remember to take care of on a daily basis:
Step 1 – Place bristles along the gum line at a 45 degree angle. Gently brush using a circular motion along the outer and inner tooth surfaces.
Step 2 – Brush each tooth individually. Tilt brush vertically behind the front teeth. Using the front half of the brush, use the same circular motion.
Step 3 – Place the brush against the biting surface of the teeth and use a gentle back-and-forth motion. Brush the tongue to remove odor-producing bacteria.
Break off about 18 inches of floss and wind some of it around your middle finger (3 turns). This finger will take up the floss as it becomes dirty. Shorten the length between the two fingers to 6 inches and wind some floss (1 turn) around the opposite middle finger. Hold the floss tightly between your thumbs and index fingers. Guide the floss between your teeth using a gentle rubbing motion. When the floss reaches the gum line, curve it into a C shape against one tooth. Gently slide it into the space between the gum and the tooth. Hold the floss tightly against the tooth as you gently rub the side of the tooth with an up and down motion. Before retrieving it, clean the adjacent tooth surface.
As you finish cleaning each contact wind the dirty floss once around the first middle finger and slide more new length of floss to proceed to the next contact.
Fluoride, a substance that’s found naturally in water, plays an important role in healthy tooth development and cavity prevention.
Fluoride combats tooth decay in two ways:
1) It strengthens tooth enamel, a hard and shiny substance that protects the teeth, so that it can better resist the acid formed by plaque.
2) Fluoride allows teeth damaged by acid to repair, or re-mineralize, themselves.
Fluoride cannot repair cavities, but it can reverse low levels of tooth decay and thus prevent new cavities from forming.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that these fluoride supplements be given daily to children between the ages of 6 months and 16 years. The dosage will change as your child grows. Only children living in non-fluoridated areas or children who drink only non-fluoridated bottled water should receive supplements.
Most children get the right amount of fluoride through a combination of fluoridated toothpaste and fluoridated water or supplements. Too much fluoride before 8 years of age can cause enamel fluorosis, a discoloration or mottling of the permanent teeth. This condition is unsightly but harmless and often can be treated with cosmetic procedures.
Plaque is essentially the start of gum disease problems. Plaque is a build-up from bacteria in the mouth and particles from the foods you eat every day.
Once sugars are introduced to plaque, it turns into a tooth eating acid that sits just above the gum line. If regular oral care isn’t standard, the acid will start eating at the teeth producing cavities and the plaque will cause gum disease.
Plaque that is allowed to sit for a prolonged period of time can cause cavities, gingivitis, and other problems in your mouth. If it’s left longer than that, serious dental procedures may be required to restore your decaying smile.
Sealants are a proven way to help prevent cavities. Although sealants do not take the place of proper oral hygiene, they do prevent bacteria from getting into the deeper crevices in a tooth’s biting surface and therefore keeping the tooth cavity-free.