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Your Teeth are in Your Hands

  • July 17, 2016

 

There’s an old saying: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” That certainly applies when it comes to keeping your teeth and gums in tip-top shape.

Dentists today can do marvelous things to restore missing teeth, correct gum disease, and perfect your smile. Those things, though, are necessary only after something goes wrong.

You might be missing a tooth due to an accident… or due to neglecting to take care of your teeth.

Gum disease could happen because you’re genetically prone to it, or it might be that your brushing and flossing leave something to be desired. Either way, good oral hygiene and regular checkups and cleaning will keep gum disease at bay for almost everyone.

Your smile might need work due to one or more crooked teeth that were never corrected… or smoking, or drinking too much coffee or tea.

Let’s be clear – not all of the bad things that happen to your teeth can be avoided. But a great many of them can be. That’s why dentists and hygienists stress the importance of brushing thoroughly at least twice daily and flossing at least once. Those two practices help remove a sticky film called plaque from your teeth, which can lead to a number of dental problems.

That’s why, barring accident, genetics, or something else outside your control, your teeth are in your hands.

Dos and Don’ts of Good Oral Hygiene

Maybe you remember some years ago when low-fat diets were getting to be trendy. Quite a few people decided that, if eating less fat was good, then eating no fat was best.

Going overboard when following guidance didn’t work out too well for them.

It’s the same with taking care of your mouth: brushing 2-3 times a day is great. Brushing 10 times a day causes the enamel on your teeth to wear down. Flossing one to two times daily is fine. Flossing before and after every meal, and at bedtime, is overkill.

So, do brush at least twice every day and floss at least once. Plaque forms really quickly, and within 24 hours after you remove it by brushing and flossing, it’s forming again. The longer it stays on your teeth the more likely it is to cause problems down the road.

The same “don’t overdo” advice goes for over-the-counter whitening agents. Using them occasionally is fine for most people. Using them too much can actually weaken the enamel, which you don’t want to happen. If your teeth are prone to staining, rinsing your mouth thoroughly after drinking coffee, tea, or colored soda can help minimize the discoloration.

Speaking of weakening enamel, brushing too hard, or brushing with too hard a toothbrush, is a bad thing too. Choose a soft toothbrush and go easy on the pressure; substitute longer brushing for harder brushing. Be sure to clean your toothbrush thoroughly after using it to prevent bacteria from building up, and replace your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months for best effectiveness.

When it comes to flossing, some people love it and others can’t stand it. There are a couple of different reasons. One is that some  people have fillings that form part or all of one wall between the teeth. Unwaxed floss will shred, which is uncomfortable, while waxed dental floss glides more easily. Some people with very tight contacts between their teeth find that waxed floss slips more easily into those spaces.

The other reason is that some people don’t like flossing is that they are already in the early stages of gum disease, called gingivitis. When these people floss, their gums can bleed, which is unpleasant at the least and may be alarming. Healthy gums won’t bleed from appropriate brushing and flossing, so if yours do, it’s time to contact our office for an examination. You may be instructed to use an antimicrobial mouthwash – once again, it’s use as directed for best results.

Accidents and genetics happen, and not all of your teeth may last your lifetime. But with regular and appropriate brushing and flossing, regular checkups and cleanings, and some assistance from your dentist, the odds are good that yours can. Make sure to use an ounce of prevention, and not a pound.

Your teeth really are in your hands, but if you need professional help with an unexpected problem, give us a call today to schedule an appointment! You can reach our Burke office at 703-260-1677 or you can request an appointment online. We look forward to seeing you soon.