Any dentist knows that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of a cure. That's why dentists are so quick to recommend preventative dentistry. Good oral hygiene prevents problems such as gum disease and infections from occurring in the first place, and periodic dentist visits help to locate potential health concerns, some of which may not even be centered in your mouth! So what do you need to know about preventative dentistry?
Most dentists are concerned about sugary foods and acids, which can eat away at the enamel on your teeth and cause holes, known as cavities. Cavities can become painful, and when left untreated, can lead to infection and broken teeth that need more than just simple fillings. You're probably aware of typical foods to avoid binging on. These include sugary drinks, orange juice, sports drinks, and candy. Culprits that damage your teeth might be surprising, however. Even pickles, sauerkraut, citrus fruits and strawberry jam can be damaging to your teeth because of their acid content.
Enamel corrosion is something that cannot be reversed. However, you can prevent this by minimizing the amount of sugary and acidic drinks. Holding an orange wedge in your mouth for a prolonged period of time is similar to bathing your teeth in acid. Don't sip on soda or sugary drinks for prolonged periods, for example. Drinking them with a meal is best.
What many people don't realize is that you should wait at least 30 minutes after eating or drinking something to brush your teeth. This allows for saliva production to return to normal and minimizes the amount of damage from the food. Drinking a glass of water or chewing sugarless gum after enjoying these things can rinse acid and bacteria from your mouth or encourage natural salivating to achieve a similar effect. Some toothpastes help to strengthen weakened enamel, too.
Even if you haven't had insurance coverage for dentist visits or you've had poor oral hygiene in the past, it's never too late to start a better routine. Dentists recommend gentle brushing twice a day; although, some people prefer to brush after every meal. Daily flossing keeps your teeth and gums healthy, and you can add a mouth rinse to help kill bacteria that flossing and brushing can't reach.
It's also never too late to see your dentist for a cleaning and any other dental work you may need to have done.