Dayton Preventive Dental Care: How to Brush Your Teeth and More
Preventive dentistry can help to keep your teeth clean and healthy. At its core, preventive dentistry focuses on daily brushing and flossing, along with regular dental cleaning to maintain optimal oral health. Taking this proactive approach, ideally from an early age, helps to prevent cavities and gum disease, as well as wear and tear on tooth enamel – and is key to giving you the beautiful and healthy smile you want.
The bottom line: taking good care of your teeth and gums is an excellent investment in your dental health. Here are steps you should take at home to maintain a healthy, beautiful smile, as well as what to expect from your preventive dentistry visits.
How to Brush Your Teeth: It’s All About Fighting Plaque
The goal of brushing your teeth is to remove plaque, which is a mass of germs that stick to your teeth. Some of these germs can cause tooth decay, while others can lead to gum disease – which, if not addressed, can lead to tooth loss.
To fight back against plaque, brush your teeth twice a day, gently vibrating a soft toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to your gums. Do so in a circular way before brushing back and forth across each tooth surface. Brush your tongue, as well, to remove bacteria that can cause bad breath.
When selecting a toothbrush, make sure it has soft bristles and is ADA approved. Another option: electric toothbrushes, such as those offered by Braun and Sonicare.
Flossing Teeth – and Why It’s Important
Brushing doesn’t remove all plaque from your mouth, which is why flossing teeth is so important. Flossing can remove the plaque that exists between your teeth. To do so effectively, wrap the ends of a 12 to 18-inch length of dental floss around each of your two middle fingers and then hold the remaining floss taut. Using your thumbs and forefingers, gently slide floss in between each pair of teeth. The floss should curve around your teeth as you move it up and down three or four times against each tooth. Go as low as you can into the gum line, and then unwrap the floss to make sure you use a fresh section of floss for each tooth pairing in your mouth.
Professional Dental Exam
A dental exam allows your dentist to address small issues before they become in-depth, more expensive ones. They are also a crucial step in diagnosing disease before it becomes a health hazard. Dental exams typically include:
- Visual examination of teeth for signs of decay
- Evaluation of fillings and other current tooth restorations
- Evaluation of gums, examining for signs of disease
- Screening for oral cancer
- Review of diagnostic x-rays to identify invisible decay, along with cysts, tumors and/or other problems not visible
We can’t stress enough the importance of regular dental visits. Prevent disease whenever you can. That’s always better than needing to have it treated.
Professional Dental Cleaning
Even when you brush and floss regularly, and otherwise practice quality preventive dental care at home, it’s important to also schedule professional dental cleanings when recommended by your dentist. During these cleanings, the hygienist will remove plaque as well as calculus, also known as tartar, from above your gum line. Tartar is plaque that has hardened on your teeth, making it more difficult to remove. If tarter is found below the gum line, this indicates a form of gum disease, with a special procedure needed to remove it.
After plaque and tartar have been removed, the hygienist will polish your teeth, cleaning stains and making your smile the absolute best it can be.
Role of the Dental X-Ray
Known as radiographs, a regular dental x-ray is very important for good oral health, giving your dentist the ability to see things not visible to the naked eye. This could include teeth that haven’t grown in all the way, invisible tooth decay or cysts and tumors, both cancerous and non-cancerous. X-rays play a crucial role in helping you save money in the long run, often catching emerging problems and disease before surgery or other expensive treatments are needed. And, if they show where cancerous growths are located, they can save lives.
Fortunately, modern dental x-rays expose patients to only minimal amounts of radiation. In fact, you’d be exposed to more radiation if you flew from New York to Los Angeles than you would from an x-ray using modern equipment. Because radiation exposure is so minimal, and because this technique can show signs of disease when it’s early enough to treat, dental x-rays are valuable in diagnostics.
Dental sealants help to protect the chewing surfaces of your teeth, which helps prevent decay. Your back teeth naturally have pits and grooves on their chewing surfaces, making it easy for food particles to become trapped. Sometimes, that food isn’t easily removed by brushing or rinsing – which is where sealants come in as a proactive treatment. This tough, clear (or tooth colored) plastic material sticks to tooth enamel after being painted on. This seals the pits/grooves to help protect teeth against decay.
Dental sealants are most often applied to the first permanent back teeth of children and sometimes used on adults. Investing in these teeth now is much more cost effective than needing to deal with decay later on. This material lasts about five years with normal wear-and-tear, but sometimes it may chip or wear off. It’s important to note that dental sealants cannot address gum disease or decay between teeth. So they do not replace preventive dental care, at home or in the dentist office.