For every complaint about dental bills, there is also a patient that neglects preventative care. For sure, there are some dental issues that are unavoidable: impact-causing breakage and wisdom teeth for example. Still, much of the tooth decay and gum inflammation that lead to more acute diseases in the mouth can be precluded — or at least diminished — by attentive self-care and consistent examinations by a dentist. If one were to tally the prices of all the implants, bridgework, capping, and bleaching costs that could have been bypassed with these six common-sense measures, the price tag would be sobering.
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1. Brush and Floss After Meals and Snacks
This is the least controversial yet most overlooked practice. Many people — most in fact — will brush in the morning and at night yet leave their mouths unattended throughout the day. Little noticed are the food particles and sugar molecules that do their dirty work on and between the teeth during the many hours between waking and bedtime.
2. See Your Dentist for Regular Exams and Cleanings
Perhaps you are rigorous about brushing and flossing. While this is an excellent habit to form, there are some things that require professional attention. Some patients, for all their diligence, are prone to cavities as a matter of genetics so regular cleanings are essential. Furthermore, gum disease, thinning enamel, chipped teeth, and teeth that are putting pressure on one another are most often discovered during an exam.
3. Avoid Foods That Aggravate Decay
Of course, you can enjoy a cookie or a piece of cake now and then. However, as these edibles pass through teeth and gums on a frequent basis, they stimulate the mouth bacteria to generate acids that erode enamel, exposing the softer dentin tissue. At the same time, fresh fruits, vegetables, and unsweetened tea or coffee can increase saliva production that helps to cleanse the mouth of food particles.
4. Consider a Mouth Rinse
The fluoride and anti-microbials in mouth rinses bring additional force in the fight against cavities. For patients more subject to cavities than others, a dental rinse may be a good supplement in self-care.
5. Check Your Brushing Technique
You can be too aggressive in the fight against tooth decay. Violent brushing can also damage enamel. The American Dental Association recommends keeping the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against the gums and applying gentle pressure as you brush. Direction can be up-down, side-side, or circular. It is advisable to check with your dentist since each person has a unique set of teeth.
6. Ask About Dental Sealants
A sealant is a plastic veneer that covers back teeth, making them more impervious to plaque and acid. By sealing off the various creases and furrows in the molars, it preserves the teeth against these agents of decay. In fact, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) advise sealant treatments for all children and teens.