Your teeth! Your smile! You may not give them much thought until you get the postcard or phone call from your local dentist telling you that it’s time to come in and see them. If you don’t have a regular dentist, then maybe you don’t think about them much until something hurts.
We know it’s not that easy to get an education on keeping your teeth healthy so we’re bringing you ten important facts about keeping those choppers strong and beautiful.
1. You may have heard that tooth enamel – the outside coating on your teeth – is harder than your bone. It is true but still not a match for plaque – a sticky bacteria-laden film that forms on your teeth within minutes of a meal. Actually, within 20 minutes of your meal intake, the acidity of your mouth increases and then it attacks your enamel, causing cavities as well as decalcification. When plaque stays on your teeth for a while, it hardens by the minerals of your saliva into calculus. That’s what your dental hygienist works so hard to remove from your teeth when you get them cleaned. To prevent damage, let us professionally clean the plaque and calculus from your teeth – including areas that are very hard for you to reach – at least once every six months.
2. You might already know that sugary foods are hard on your teeth but did you also know that there is quite a few acidic foods that are similarly hard on dental enamel? The list includes tomatoes, salad dressing, citrus fruits, wine, coffee and pickles. After eating any of these foods, cleanse and neutralize your mouth with water before moving on with life.
3. The forces of biting and chewing on your teeth are enormous. As much as 250 pounds of pressure per square inch can be generated by the muscles in your jaw. That’s one reason it’s so vital to handle any dental or oral problem promptly. Misalignments, injured or cracked teeth, missing teeth – any of these problems can start a chain reaction of effects that may result in other teeth being damaged or lost. Be sure to see us as soon as you suffer any trauma.
4. You could be damaging your teeth by the way you brush. If you brush with a medium or hard bristle brush or brush in a back-and-forth, up and down motion, you could be wearing enamel away and causing gum recession. Buy a soft brush and brush in a gentle circular motion for two minutes, being sure not to neglect the teeth all the way in the back. And be sure to replace your brush when it shows signs of wear.
5. Skipping the floss means skipping thorough dental care. Some experts say it’s nearly half the job of keeping your teeth healthy. You may have been taught to slide the floss up under the gum a couple of times and then move on to the next tooth. In fact, you should be gently pulling the floss around the tooth until it forms the shape of a “C.” Move it up and down with a simultaneous push-pull motion. Move to clean sections of floss as you progress from tooth to tooth. Some people floss at their desks at work and floss right after lunch. If you’re one of our patients, you can always ask us to demonstrate the right way to floss.
6. Here’s a little known fact: Mixing very hot foods and icy drinks at the same meal can damage your teeth. The hot food causes your teeth to expand and the cold drink causes them to contract rapidly. Not all teeth can tolerate this much change all at once. Try letting very hot foods cool down a bit be-fore eating.
7. Do you ever use your teeth as tools? Do you chew lots of ice? These habits can result in fractures that are the end of one or more healthy, strong teeth. Avoid using your teeth to hold things or to open things.
8. Some prescription drugs cause dry mouth which enables oral bacteria to attack your teeth more aggressively. If you’re already one of our patients, please call us to go over your medications so we can determine if any of them cause dry mouth. We have hydrating oral mouthwashes and saliva substitutes we can offer you to keep your mouth moist while you’re taking that medication.
9. It’s a good idea to pay closer attention to your oral health during pregnancy. Changing hormones make gums more sensitive and your nutritional demands are higher. Ask your doctor about nutritional support for teeth during pregnancy. And see us immediately if your teeth become more sensitive or your gums get inflamed during pregnancy.
10. You CAN keep your teeth for your whole life. Many reasons for tooth loss can be eliminated by maintaining a regular schedule of care and a diet that contributes to dental health. For healthy teeth, skip alcohol, smoking, diets high in starch, acids or sugar. Eat unprocessed foods rather than processed ones. Always visit your dentist every six months for cleanings and exams. Address any problems while they are small. This will not only save your teeth, it will save most people many thousands of dollars. Expensive treatments usually result from delay or neglect. We want to work with you as a tight-knit team to help you keep every tooth healthy and strong, even into your eighties.
If you’re not currently taking good care of your teeth, we hope this list inspires you. No matter what your dental needs, please feel free to reach out to StarBrite Dental of Rockville, Maryland by calling 301-770-1070. Or you can fill out the form below.