Dental care has seen an amazing pace of development in the past decades, but even so we must do our share to keep our teeth healthy so that we can live with our natural teeth for the longest time possible. The risk factors are different for young people and for the elderly. By following some important rules of dental hygiene we can increase the chance of a longer lifespan for our teeth.
In this article you can read about the following topics:
- What can we do for our dental health?
- Lifestyle factors
- Dental problems caused by outside effects
- Harmful effects of some legal stimulants
- Other illnesses caused by poor oral hygiene
- Regular and proper teeth brushing is a key factor
- Dental check-ups above all
Proper dental hygiene is important starting from our first years. It is a mistake to think that since children will lose their deciduous teeth in a few years’ time there is no point in looking after them. Childhood is the time when one needs to “practice” how to brush teeth, how to keep the oral cavity clean, since adults keep childhood habits, good ones and bad ones alike.
What can we do for our dental health?
People are different, so their teeth react differently to damaging effects and have a different level of resistance to them. There are however some procedures and behaviour routines that partly protect us from damaging factors, partly help us minimise their negative effect.
The harmful effects damaging our teeth can be divided into two groups: lifestyle factors and outside effects. In both fields we can do something to lessen the damage and to protect our teeth.
Among those we must mention stress which is present in every aspect of our lives and the hectic lifestyle of the modern world. People do not really realise this, but one of the consequences of a stressful life is teeth grinding or bruxism. It is important to minimise its harmful effects, for example by using a teeth guard if we cannot avoid the stress in our life.
Another risk brought by modern life is eating in a rush and eating unhealthy food. People who never have time for anything cannot even stop to think which foods and drinks are healthy and which ones can ruin their teeth. They just eat whatever they can grab first and of course this shows in the condition of their teeth. We should make the necessary changes in our eating habits if we can. Just paying a little more attention to our diet and making the right choices can improve our oral health significantly. We should consume less food and drink with a high acid content since they erode tooth enamel.
Dental problems caused by outside effects
By outside effects we mean those of food and some legal stimulants. It is a well-known fact that tooth decay – the most common dental illness – largely depends on the carbohydrate content of food. Bacteria fermenting carbohydrates form a plaque in which they live and produce acids causing the disintegration of tooth enamel. Tooth decay occurs when due to these and other effects tooth enamel weakens (losing its minerals) and breaks down. Tooth decay starts on the outside surface of teeth and thus proceeds towards the inner layers. Without proper treatment it can destroy teeth.
Tooth decay in its advanced state can only be healed by dental intervention, so prevention is important. The best ways of prevention are the right diet (consuming very few carbohydrates), proper and regular teeth brushing and regular teeth check-up visits (about which you can read towards the end of this article).
Harmful effects of some legal stimulants
We must briefly speak about the destructive effect on the teeth and on the oral cavity of the abuse of the legal stimulants. Both drinking too much alcohol and smoking too much harms the teeth and the gum. In extreme cases they can cause complete teeth loss. Also, too much smoking can make it impossible to insert dental implants and thus replace lost teeth. For these and other reasons we must use these legal stimulants sparingly.
Other illnesses caused by poor oral hygiene
Poor oral hygiene does not only cause tooth decay but other, more complex illnesses as well. Among these the most important and most frequently occurring is gum inflammation which leads to various forms of periodontitis . Gum turns from pink to red (because inflamed) and often bleeds when teeth are brushed. Later the permanently inflamed gun recedes, which causes the loosening and then the loss of teeth.
One thing you can do to prevent gum inflammation is practicing proper oral hygiene. When brushing your teeth, you should clean not only your teeth but your gums as well, brushing them with toothpaste and a soft toothbrush.
Permanent gum inflammation is caused by tartar. Many people are not aware of its subtle but long-term damaging effect. Tartar is created by the thin plaque that forms on the teeth while eating. This plaque becomes hardened by the minerals present in the saliva and then builds up on the surface of teeth.
You should visit a dentist 2 or 3 times a year to have tartar removed. The building up of tartar can be prevented or lessened by brushing your teeth after meals, especially if you use specific anti-tartar toothpaste.
Regular and proper teeth brushing is a key factor
Basic oral hygiene consists of brushing your teeth after the main meals, but at least twice daily. Brushing your teeth for at least 3 or 4 minutes with a soft toothbrush (which is more flexible and can reach into nooks and crannies) and toothpaste containing fluoride (fluoride integrates with tooth enamel and makes it stronger) helps you remove food residuals and invisible plaque from the surface of your teeth. With no plaque on your teeth, the bacteria responsible for causing tartar have less chance of survival.
Teeth must be cleaned not only on the chewing surfaces but on the facial and lingual surfaces as well. Use a circular motion when brushing your teeth. You should always use dental floss or an even more efficient interdental brush to clean the gaps between your teeth. Tooth decay is often caused by residual food and plaque deposited in these gaps between teeth or in the gingival sulcus. With careful and proper brushing you can prevent it.
Dental check-ups above all
Even with the most careful oral hygiene and other dental care our teeth can decay, our gum can get inflamed. Therefore it is important to have a dental check-up regularly (at least twice a year). Your dentist can verify the condition of your teeth, gum and oral cavity and can treat smaller damages with a minimum of intervention. This way you can prevent further damages which eventually can lead to teeth loss.
With regular check-ups your dentist can discover danger of which you may not be aware because they do not cause any pain in their initial stage – for example tooth decay or gum inflammation. Both are quite dangerous since in their advanced stage their treatment can involve taking away part of the tooth or root canal intervention. On the long run they can cause tooth loss. During these check-up visits, tartar can also be removed (for the risks caused by tartar see above).