As is often the case, prevention is often better than cure. No matter how advanced a dental problem there is normally always a way of dealing with it. However it is always better to avoid the need for invasive and lengthy dental treatment – with a little extra care and attention in advance.
By adopting a pro-active approach to your dental hygiene including education regarding diet and dental hygiene products some issues can be completely avoided- whilst others can be detected earlier and dealt with before they become too serious.
The most effective way to keep on top of your oral health is to attend regular appointments with your dentist at least twice a year. As well as spotting changes which could signify more serious diseases such as mouth cancer, your dentist will also fully check your mouth and gums- picking up on cavities so that they can be treated before they become too advanced. They can also recommend sealants for teeth at high risk of decay.
Our recommendations to help keep teeth healthy in the long-term:
Visit the Hygienist regularly:
As with the Dentist, it is important to visit the hygienist every 6 months. Even if you maintain the strictest oral health care routine at home you can never stop the gradual build-up of plaque on your teeth.
Plaque often can’t be seen or felt until it is advanced and that is why regular hygiene appointments are important.
Bleeding when you brush or eat, a metallic taste in your mouth or redness in your gums could all be signs of gingivitis (gum disease). Left untreated this could lead to gum recession causing teeth to become loose or even fall out completely. If you do have any concerns at all you should make an appointment for a check over.
The hygienist will scale and polish your teeth- giving them a deep clean and leaving them feeling fresh and healthy. They can also check over your gums and advise you on specific cleaning devices that could help you. You will notice an instant improvement in one simple 20 minute appointment.
Brush your teeth twice a day:
You should always brush your teeth twice a day. Floss, mouthwash and interdental brushes can also be used to make sure teeth and gums and completely clean. Disclosing solutions can show you if you have missed any spots.
If your teeth are sensitive then a sensitive toothpaste should help.
Remember that smoking can also have a bad effect on your oral hygiene.
Avoid too many sugary foods:
Be aware of your diet and bear in mind that sugary items such as chocolates and sweets should be consumed in small quantities. If you do eat sweet items have them following a meal so that your mouth acids have chance to neutralise afterward.
If you can, brush after eating particularly sticky or hard sweets to remove sugary deposits left on or between the teeth.
At the other end of the scale, highly acidic foods such as wine, citrus fruits, and fizzy drinks can actually soften the enamel on your teeth and therefore, you shouldn’t brush your teeth straight away. Instead it is recommended that you wait for at least half an hour.
Instead, you can drink water to clean your mouth or chew a sugar free gum to neutralise acids in your mouth.
Start oral education early:
It is important that children are educated regarding their diet and personal oral health as early as possible.
As soon as their first teeth appear your child should be encouraged to brush twice a day – with supervision. A child should be able to brush their teeth independently from around 7 years of age.
Remember that fruit juice, squash and fizzy drinks contain lots of sugar and should be avoided. Sweets and chocolates should also be avoided. Milk and other high calcium products like yoghurt and cheese are ideal for building strong teeth and bones but should be included as part of a balanced diet.
Babies should be registered with a dentist at birth. A first visit should be scheduled for around 6 months of age – when the first teeth generally start to appear – and regular visits are recommended from then on to help ensure they are confident and relaxed.
It is recommended that bottles are avoided after 6 months of age and dummies after 1 year in order to prevent developmental issues with the mouth. If in doubt speak to your dentist or your health visitor for more advice.