The saying "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" definitely applies when it comes to the health of your teeth and gums.
A good oral care routine can not only help you avoid tooth decay and cavities, it might also reduce your risk for gum disease and other oral problems.
A few simple steps, taken on a daily basis or several times a year, can be all you need to keep your mouth in great shape.
Seeing the Dentist
Regular checkups and cleanings by a dental professional should be part of everyone’s preventative care toolkit. Even if you don’t think you need to, it’s a great idea to schedule an appointment with your dentist. Many dental issues don’t have symptoms early on or might not have symptoms severe enough to get you to pay attention. For example, in the early stages, you might not know you have a cavity, but a dentist can spot one and either fill it or apply fluoride to the area to help strengthen the enamel.
Gum disease can be reversed if caught in the early stages, but requires more in-depth treatment if not detected sooner. Your regular dentist can spot gum disease during a routine examination, or you can schedule an appointment with a periodontist and have him or her evaluate your teeth and gums for signs of gum disease.
Another way that your dentist can help you avoid dental issues, namely cavities, is by applying sealants to your teeth. Sealants are simply plastic barriers that are applied to the top of the molars, which are the teeth most likely to develop cavities. The sealants protect the molars and significantly lower your risk for cavities. The process of applying them isn’t complicated, as they are usually painted on, then allowed to dry and harden. Usually, they will last for several years, and your dentist can reapply them as needed.
Brushing and Flossing
Your dentist can also give you tips for preventing oral health issues at home. You are probably well aware that brushing at least twice a day and flossing every day helps prevent cavities and keep your mouth in good shape. Your dentist can give you pointers on the best way to brush to clean your teeth and gums without contributing to gum recession or wearing away the enamel. For best results, stick to a brush with soft bristles and use a gentle hand when brushing.
Look Out for Risk Factors
Another way to take preventative action against oral health issues is to learn the risk factors for problems and learn to avoid those factors. For example, the more junk food you eat, the higher your risk for decay and cavities. Cutting back on sugary snacks can do a lot to protect your teeth from decay.
You can then go a step further and start eating foods that benefit your teeth. Try to eat foods high in calcium, which help restore and build up the enamel on your teeth. Dairy products such as cheese and milk are great for the teeth, as are leafy greens and other vegetables with a good amount of calcium. Limiting snacking can also protect your teeth. The more you snack, the more food lingers on your teeth or in your mouth, increasing your risk for cavities.
Smoking is another habit to avoid if you want to protect your teeth and gums. When it comes to the health of your mouth, smoking is one of the worst things you can do. It’s thought to be one of the leading risk factors for gum disease, for one thing. It also increases your risk for developing oral cancer.
Along with putting your health at risk, smoking can also make your mouth look less attractive. It stains your teeth and your tongue and can interfere with cosmetic dental treatments. As if that weren’t enough, it can also impact your mouth’s ability to heal after a treatment, such as after having a tooth pulled or a cavity filled.
Removing Wisdom Teeth
If you see a dentist on a regular basis, he or she will be able to let you know if it’s time to have your wisdom teeth removed. Not everyone needs to remove their wisdom teeth; some don’t even get wisdom teeth. If yours are trying to emerge, but there isn’t enough space, the best thing to do is remove them.
Usually, the sooner your wisdom teeth are taken out, the better your mouth will be. Ideally, an oral surgeon will take them out before you have any problems or symptoms. Left in the mouth, the wisdom teeth can interfere with the alignment of your other teeth, increase your risk for gum disease, or cause damage to the jawbone.
If it’s been awhile since you’ve seen a dentist for a checkup or a periodontist for an evaluation, for the sake of your mouth, make an appointment today. In the Miami area, Dr. Arroyo can evaluate the health of your gums, provide treatment for gum disease, and even remove your wisdom teeth, if needed. To schedule an appointment with the periodontists, call (305) 447-1447 today.