The best defense against tooth decay, cavities, bad breath, and a host of other dental problems, is a good offense. At 3 Rivers Pediatric Dentistry we constantly provide in depth Oral Hygiene Instruction. Thankfully, the basics of the offensive game plan remain simple, proven, and inexpensive. Investing a little time in establishing and monitoring your child’s good brushing and flossing habits provides years of beneficial returns.
Good oral hygiene requires an understanding of plaque. Plaque is a sticky, colorless layer of bacteria. When you eat carbohydrates (foods made of sugar or starch) you feed this plaque, which in turn produces acids that attack tooth enamel, cause cavities, and develop a hard substance called calculus (tartar). Uninterrupted, the acid attacks can result in tooth decay and gum disease (also known as periodontal disease). If left untreated, gum disease can cause loss of teeth and bone.
By fighting plaque you can keep your teeth for a lifetime. Today’s older adults are keeping their natural teeth longer because of scientific developments and an emphasis on preventative dentistry.
At any age, you can begin the fight with plaque and keep your teeth and gums healthy. It’s really quite easy. Simply:
- Brush your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste to remove food particles and plaque from the tooth surfaces. While you’re at it, brush the top surface of your tongue to eliminate bad breath and bacteria buildup.
- Clean between your teeth daily with floss or an interdental cleaner. Decay-causing bacteria can linger between teeth where toothbrush bristles can’t reach. Flossing removes plaque and food particles from between the teeth and under the gum line.
- Eat a balanced diet and limit between-meal snacks. If a snack is needed, choose nutritious foods such as raw vegetables, plain yogurt, cheese or a piece of fruit.
- Schedule regular check-ups. Visit the dentist regularly (every 6 months) for professional cleanings and oral exams.
- Ask the doctor about dental sealants, a protective plastic coating that can be applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth where decay often starts.
- Wear mouth protection, such as a mouthguard, when you play contact sports or extreme sports.
- Prevent Tooth Decay – Tooth decay (cavity or caries) can develop on any surface of any tooth. Because cavities grow, they are much easier and less expensive to treat when they are small. A decaying tooth may not hurt, so you may have a cavity and not realize it. Our team checks for tooth decay at your child’s regular check-ups and will periodically use digital radiographs (x-rays) to check for decay between teeth. He treats tooth decay by cleaning out the cavity and placing a restoration (filling) in the tooth.