February 19, 2011
Tooth decay is both preventable and curable. Remember what Ben Franklin said? ”An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” His concept is relevant to today’s dental care! We recommend that our patients employ a “combined strategies” approach from the list below to not only stop decay, but actually reverse it, providing that it hasn’t advanced too far.
Firstly, what’s plaque and why is it so important to remove it from the teeth? Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that constantly forms on the teeth. The bacteria in plaque create toxins that cause cavities in your teeth. If its allowed to accumulate, it can cause an infection of the tissues that support and surround the teeth. That’s called gingivitis. When it progresses into the bone, it’s the major cause of tooth loss in adults affecting three out of four adults after the age of 35. That’s called periodontal disease.
Because plaque is constantly forming, it must be continually removed daily. The good news is that plaque is a soft deposit and is easily removed with a toothbrush and dental floss. That’s your job! Plaque that is missed can solidify into a hard deposit called tartar. That should be removed a few times a year by the hygienist. That’s our job!
Here are our tips for healthy, clean teeth and gums, and a beautiful smile:
1. Clean the plaque from between your teeth daily with dental floss by using a wrapping, vertical movement (see my blog ”How To Floss Your Teeth Properly”). Woven, cotton floss cleans the best. Synthetic floss and waxed floss slip through tight teeth easier, but don’t clean quite as well.
2. Brush twice a day thoroughly with a soft toothbrush and a fluoridated toothpaste. Consider using an electric toothbrush such as the Braun Oral-B or the Sonicare. But, you still must floss!
3. Use a toothpaste that contains fluoride for cavity prevention…most do. Other options include supplemental, fluoride rinses and prescription, high-fluoride toothpastes such as Prevident. We have them it the office for you to try!
4. Eat nutritious and balanced meals. Limit snacking of sweets.
5. Look for sugars on labels. The following sugars can cause dental decay: sucrose, glucose, dextrose, maltose, fructose and hydrolysed starch. Invert sugar (sucrose converted to glucose and fructose) or syrup, brown sugar, cane sugar, muscavado and concentrated fruit juices all contain sugars. Maltodextrin is not a sugar, but may cause decay. Alcohol sugars or polysols which include sorbitol, mannitol and xylitol (somewhat effective in preventing decay) do not cause decay. Other sweeteners that do not cause decay include aspartame, saccharin, acesulfame K, sucralose and stevia (non-cariogenic sweeteners). You should know the medical implications before making substitutions to your diet. By selecting a non-cariogenic (won’t cause decay) sweetener, a beverage that reduces the risk of dental caries can be developed. READ THE LABEL OF THE INGREDIENTS IN YOUR BEVERAGE!
6. Inquire about the need for dental sealants, which are applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth to protect them from decay. They are great for children, teens and even young adults.
7. Visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and oral examinations.
Remember to use a “combined strategies” approach by following many of the suggestions above, and remember what Ben Franklin said.
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