What is basic dental care?
Basic dental care involves brushing and flossing your teeth regularly, seeing your dentist and/or dental hygienist for regular checkups and cleanings, and eating a mouth-healthy diet, which means foods high in whole grains, vegetables and fruits, and dairy products.
Why is basic dental care important?
Practicing basic dental care:
- Prevents tooth decay.
- Prevents gum (periodontal) disease , which can damage gum tissue and the bones that support teeth , and in the long term can lead to the loss of teeth.
- Shortens time with the dentist and dental hygienist, and makes the trip more pleasant.
- Saves money. By preventing tooth decay and gum disease, you can reduce the need for fillings and other costly procedures.
- Helps prevent bad breath. Brushing and flossing rid your mouth of the bacteria that cause bad breath.
- Helps keep teeth white by preventing staining from food, drinks, and tobacco.
- Improves overall health.
- Makes it possible for your teeth to last a lifetime.
Are there ways to avoid dental problems?
Keeping your teeth and gums healthy requires good nutrition and regular brushing and flossing.
Brush your teeth twice a day-in the morning and before bed-and floss once a day. This removes plaque, which can lead to damaged teeth, gums, and surrounding bone.
- Use a toothpaste that contains fluoride, which helps prevent tooth decay and cavities. Ask your dentist if you need a mouthwash that contains fluoride or one with ingredients that fight plaque. Look for toothpastes that have been approved by the American Dental Association.
- Avoid foods that contain a lot of sugar. Sugar helps plaque grow.
- Avoid using tobacco products, which can cause gum disease and oral cancer. Exposure to tobacco smoke (secondhand smoke) also may cause gum disease as well as other health problems.1
- Practice tongue cleaning. You can use a tongue cleaner or a soft-bristle toothbrush, stroking in a back-to-front direction. Tongue cleaning is particularly important for people who smoke or whose tongues are coated or deeply grooved.
- Schedule regular trips to the dentist based on how often you need exams and cleaning.
When should my child start seeing a dentist?
By the time your child is 6 months of age, your doctor should assess the likelihood of your child having future dental problems. If he or she thinks your child will have dental problems, be sure your child sees a dentist before his or her first birthday or 6 months after the first primary teeth appear , whichever comes first. After your first visit, schedule regular visits every 6 months or as your dentist recommends.
Experts recommend that your child’s dental care start at 12 months of age. If your baby has dental problems caused by injury, disease, or a developmental problem, see your pediatric dentist right away.
For more information regarding your child’s first visit, please see “Your Child’s First Visit to the Dentist“.
Four Key Elements Of Proper Flossing
Gum disease begins at the gum line and between teeth. Daily flossing is an important part of your oral health care routine to help remove the plaque from these areas where a toothbrush doesn’t completely reach. But to truly reap the benefits, you need to use proper flossing technique.
The American Dental Hygienists’ Association explains the key elements of proper flossing technique in four simple steps:
- Wind: Wind 18 inches of floss around middle fingers of each hand. Pinch floss between thumbs and index fingers, leaving a one- to two-inch length in between. Use thumbs to direct floss between upper teeth.
- Guide: Keep a one- to two-inch length of floss taut between fingers. Use index fingers to guide floss between contacts of the lower teeth.
- Glide: Gently guide floss between the teeth by using a zig-zag motion. DO NOT SNAP FLOSS BETWEEN YOUR TEETH. Contour floss around the side of the tooth.
- Slide: Slide floss up and down against the tooth surface and under the gum line. Floss each tooth thoroughly with a clean section of floss.
This technique applies to any type of floss: waxed, unwaxed, spongy floss or dental tape. It doesn’t matter whether you start with your upper or lower teeth, or whether you start in the front or the back. Just make sure that you floss all your teeth, including the back side of the very last tooth on the left, right, top and bottom of your mouth. And don’t forget to floss under the gum line and along the sides of teeth that border any spaces where teeth are missing — food particles can become trapped in these spaces, too.
Using a Flosser
If you use a hand-held flosser, the flossing technique is similar. Hold the flosser handle firmly and point the flossing tip at an angle facing the area you want to floss first (either top teeth or bottom teeth). Guide the floss gently between two teeth, and be sure to avoid snapping or popping the floss. Use the same zigzag motion that you would us with standard floss. Bend the floss around each tooth and slide it under the gum line and along each tooth surface.
Using an Electric Flosser
The same basic flossing techniques apply if you choose an electric flosser. Guide the floss gently into place and move the flosser back and forth to create a zigzag motion with the floss. Do you have trouble reaching the back sides of the back teeth? Some flossers have angled handles that make it easier to reach those tricky spots.
Flossing Around Dental Work
If you wear braces or other dental appliances, proper flossing technique is especially important to avoid getting floss caught on wires or brackets. You can use special orthodontic floss, such as Oral-B Super Floss®, which has a stiff end that can be easily threaded under the main wire (also called the arch wire) on your braces. Or you can purchase a floss threader, which is a flexible device with a pick on one end and a loop on the other. To use a floss threader, place an 18-inch piece of the floss of your choice through the loop. Then insert the pointed end of the flosser under the main wire and pull through so the floss is under the main wire. Once you have the floss in place, follow the same principles of proper flossing technique that you would use with standard floss.
Poor flossing technique can result in complications, and it’s important to be thorough yet gentle, especially when flossing with an electric flosser. Be sure you understand how to use it. You can always ask your dentist or dental hygienist to show you if you are uncertain.
Study Finds Energy, Sports Drinks Damage Tooth Enamel; Industry Says Study Not ‘Real World’
Energy and sports drinks can damage tooth enamel, boosting the risk of cavities, according to a new study.
“The big misconception is that energy drinks and sports drinks are healthier than soda for oral health,” says researcher Poonam Jain, BDS, MPH, associate professor and director of community dentistry at the Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine.
“This study completely disproves that, because they erode or thin out the enamel of the teeth, leaving them more susceptible to decay and sensitivity.”
The American Beverage Association takes issue with the study, says Tracey Halliday, a spokesperson. An ABA statement reads, in part: “This study was not conducted on humans and in no way mirrors reality.”
Jain and her team tested 13 sports drinks and nine energy drinks for acidity. They tested six drinks for their effects on tooth enamel and found both types caused damage. Energy drinks, however, were twice as bad. Damaged tooth enamel cannot be fixed.– The study is published in the journal General Dentistry.
Sports Drinks, Energy Drinks, and Teeth: Study Details
The drinks are especially popular among teens and young adults. Up to half of U.S. teens and young adults drink energy drinks, and more than half have at least one sports drink a day, according to the researchers.
They tested the acidity levels of all 22 drinks. They found the levels of acidity in the drinks vary between brands and between flavors of the same brands.
Gatorade Blue had the highest acidity among sports drinks. Next was Hydr8.
Among the energy drinks with the highest acidity:
- Red Bull Sugarfree
- Monster Assault
- 5-hour Energy
- Von Dutch
MDX had the lowest acidity of the energy drinks.
Energy Drinks, Sports Drinks, and Tooth Enamel
Jain’s team immersed enamel samples from extracted human teeth into three sports drinks and three energy drinks.
The sports drinks tested were:
- Gatorade Rain
- Powerade Option
- Propel Grape
The energy drinks tested were:
- Monster Assault
- Red Bull
- 5-hour Energy
The enamel samples were immersed in the drinks for 15 minutes. The researchers transferred the enamel to artificial saliva for two hours.
This cycle was repeated four times a day for five days. The beverages were replaced with fresh ones every day.
The cycle was meant to simulate real life, Jain says, as some teens and young adults drink the beverages every few hours.
Enamel loss was evident after five days of exposure, Jain says.
The average enamel lost with sports drinks was about 1.5%, while the average loss with energy drinks was more than 3%. Jain says she cannot pinpoint what percent of enamel loss would cause problems.
Advice for Sports, Energy Drink Fans
Even one drink a day is potentially harmful. If the consumer is absolutely unable to give them up, the best advice is to minimize [their use] and rinse with water afterwards. Dilute them, do not brush immediately after drinking them, she says, as this could spread around the acid. The mouth takes about 30 minutes to bring the pH back to normal.
Wait an hour after drinking the sports or energy drink, to be safe, then brush.
The Canadian Dental Association recommends the assessment of infants, by a dentist, within 6 months of the eruption of the first tooth or by one year of age. The goal is to have your child visit the dentist before there is a problem with his or her teeth. In most cases, a dental exam every six months will let your child’s dentist catch small problems early.
Here are 3 reasons to take your child for dental exams:
- You can find out if the cleaning you do at home is working.
- Your dentist can find problems right away and fix them.
- Your child can learn that going to the dentist helps prevent problems.
Your dentist may want to take X-rays. X-rays show decay between the teeth. They will also show if teeth are coming in the way they should. Your child’s dentist may also talk to you about fluoride.
nce your child has permanent molars, your dentist may suggest sealing them to protect them from cavities. A sealant is a kind of plastic that is put on the chewing surface of the molars. The plastic seals the tooth and makes it less likely to trap food and germs.
When your child goes for a dental exam, your dentist can tell you if crooked or crowded teeth may cause problems. In many cases, crooked teeth straighten out as the child’s jaw grows and the rest of the teeth come in.
If they do not straighten out, your child may have a bite problem (also known as malocclusion). This can cause problems with eating and with teeth cleaning. It can also affect your child’s looks and make him or her feel out of place.
Your dentist can suggest ways to treat this, or refer your child to an orthodontist. An orthodontist is a dental specialist with 2 to 3 years of extra university training in this area.
The dentist says my child needs a filling in a baby tooth. Since the tooth is going to fall out, why bother?
Some primary (or baby) teeth will be in your child’s mouth until age 12. The tooth that needs to be fixed may be one of those.
Broken teeth or teeth that are infected can hurt your child’s health and the way your child feels about him or herself.
To do a filling, the dentist removes the decay and “fills” the hole with metal, plastic or other material. A filling can be a cheap and easy way to fix a problem that could be painful and cost more later because it stops decay from spreading deeper into the tooth.
If a filling is not done and decay spreads, the tooth may need to be pulled out. If this happens, your child may need a space maintainer to hold space for the permanent tooth.
When a baby (or primary) tooth is missing, the teeth on each side may move into the space. They can block the permanent tooth from coming in. To hold the space, your dentist may put a plastic or metal space maintainer on the teeth on each side of the space, to keep the teeth from moving in.
Accord Dental in Kitsilano – Dr. Alex Rosenczweig
Bringing in a child early in their life to the dental office is not only important for educating parents but also for the child getting used to being in the dental office environment so that their first experiences are remembered as pleasant and ‘normal’. Having dental phobia from a young age is something that can remain with someone well into their adult life – I strive to avoid this with young patients.