Believe me when I say this, we all have had this question pop in our minds when we saw someone who has either lost all his teeth or has his teeth accidentally pop out while laughing. So, is there actually a way to avoid this embarrassment and hassle of dentures, expensive implants and make sure your natural teeth last you a lifetime? Let’s find out.
Tooth life span is majorly cut short by Dental Caries or commonly known as Cavities. It is one of the most prevalent diseases in humans, second only to the cold and yet commonly neglected by people. According to a research, one in every four adults and more than half of the teenagers in US have had cavities.
What is Caries and how does it decay your teeth?
Caries or a “cavity” is an opening in the hard surface (enamel) of your tooth mainly due to acids produced from sugar in food particles (mainly sucrose) by bacteria in your mouth. These bacteria practically feed on nutrients to create products which destroy your teeth, such parasites!
What factors contribute in decaying teeth?
- Frequent snacking
- Lack of regular brushing
- Lack of flossing habit
These provide perfect environment for bacteria to breakdown sugars and produce more acid which leach out minerals from your tooth surface, making it soft and weak. This opening (cavity) if left unattended continues to grow wider and deeper into the tooth which if remains unchecked will reach the inner portion (pulp) of your teeth causing pain that may leave you with some sleepless nights.
How to save teeth from decay?
Now you might be wondering how to prevent decay happening in the first place. As Prevention is always better than Cure, following are several ways to keep your teeth healthy:
It is the most well-known and commonly used oral hygiene practice, but many people don’t know when and how to do it correctly. Most people brush once daily and that too on waking up after which they load their oral cavity with bulk load of sugary breakfast whose remains become nutrition for bacteria throughout the day. Brushing is recommended at least twice a day, once before sleeping and once after the breakfast. Now why is that so?
- Brushing after breakfast is recommended as to clean your mouth of that sugar rich meal keeping the bacteria deprived of nutrition, preventing caries.
- Many people ignore the need to brush before sleeping, which is important as salivation (which provides flushing action to clean oral cavity) is decreased during the night, also providing ample time and nutrients to oral cavity, hence it is of utmost importance to brush and prevent acids from forming throughout the night.
American Dental Association recommends
- Using a soft-bristled tooth brush with a fluoride containing toothpaste.
- Correct technique to brush is to keep your brush angled at 45 degrees against the gums moving it back and forth and then swiping it away from tooth surface, repeating it for all teeth (Modified Bass technique).
- It is also recommended to brush and clean your tongue and
- Replace your brush every 3-4 months.
Each tooth has 5 surfaces, regular brushing cleans only 3 surfaces missing 2 surfaces which are adjacent to other teeth. These surfaces are a perfect area for food impaction and subsequent acid production by bacteria. Flossing at least once daily is recommended as to clean the interdental surfaces and preventing decay there.
Mouthwashes containing fluoride are an excellent way to flush out bacteria and food particles and remineralize your teeth. It also helps keep your breath fresh. It is recommended to use mouthwash twice daily after consulting your dentist as its unnecessary and over-usage can lead to staining.
4. Avoid Frequent consumption of Sugary foods
Sticky sugary foods like milk, honey, soda, biscuits, candies are the main culprits in caries formation. These foods stick to hard and soft tissues of your oral cavity which allows ample time for bacteria to process them into acids. Sugar consumption should be limited to meal times and avoided in between.
5. Avoid Pacifiers and Bottles in Children
Caries are very common in infants that frequently use pacifiers coated with sweeteners or use bottles containing milk or sugary drinks overnight. These lead to baby bottle caries and decay of primary teeth in children. Prolonged contact with Pacifiers and bottles should be avoided and their teeth should be brushed by parents or guardians till age of 7 as recommended by NHS.
6. Regular Dental Visits
Most of the early cavities go unnoticed by people as they are not visible to naked eye or don’t cause any pain. Regular dental visits every 6-12 months are recommended as dentist can better assess oral health condition and not only look for decay but also other problems such a gum disease, oral cancer and act promptly stop them from causing more damage.
7. Fluoride Sealants
Posterior teeth such as molars and premolars contain many pits and grooves which become starting point of carious activity. These can be stopped in their tracks by Fluoride based Sealants which seal and remineralize any lesion. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends sealants for all school-age children.
Making your teeth last a lifetime is no rocket science, but a simple result of small continued daily habits that culminate into good oral health. Following these basic guidelines will save you a lot of hassle and pain, while keeping your smile as bright as ever. Healthy smile means a health life!
If you get to a point where you need an Implant, request an appointment!
Dr. Rahaf Suede, DDS at Great Lakes Smiles Dental is trusted by many patients in Plymouth and surrounding areas for comprehensive dental care. She is recognized for her high quality dental treatment and patient satisfaction. Contact her now for an appointment Call (734) 459-9360