One of the most important things people can do to protect their health is to practice good oral hygiene. Many people don’t know that tooth decay can lead to a variety of other health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, and even some cancers. These are the general dentistry tips that everyone in the dentist’s office wishes their patients knew.
1. Don’t Brush Right After Eating
Most people think they’re supposed to rush to the bathroom to brush their teeth immediately after a meal. However, the excess saliva produced while chewing, as well as the acids that are found in many foods, can cause tooth enamel to soften for a short time after eating. Brushing right away can damage the enamel while it is in this softened state. Many dentists recommend that their patients wait about an hour after a meal before brushing to allow the enamel to return to normal. Rinsing with water or chewing sugar-free gum can help to remove food particles in the meantime.
2. Drink Through a Straw
Many drinks, including sodas, juices, and sports drinks, have high acidity and sugar levels. When people drink these beverages directly from a glass, can, or bottle, the liquid washes over the teeth, exposing the enamel repeatedly to the acids and sugars. Over time, this can weaken the enamel, leaving it susceptible to decay and cavities. By using a straw, less of the liquid comes into contact with the teeth. In addition, a straw can help prevent discoloration from dark-colored liquids like coffee and wine.
3. Yes, Flossing Really Is Important
Even though it’s common knowledge that it is important to brush and floss daily, many people skip flossing or don’t do it as often as they should. However, if food becomes trapped in the teeth and is not removed, it can begin to decay and can lead to cavities. In some cases, the food may even travel below the gum line and cause an infection or abscess. These infections can be very serious and may require emergency medical intervention beyond the scope of general dentistry. Floss picks can help make flossing more convenient, even on the go.
4. Stop Procrastinating
Even though some people may find it intimidating to make an appointment at their local dental clinic, it’s important not to put it off until there is a problem. Regular check-ups can help catch problems in their early stages, allowing them to be treated before they get worse. By putting off a dentist appointment until there’s a severe cavity or abscess, a person runs the risk of developing more severe problems, including gum disease. Many dentists today offer sedation dentistry, which can help calm anxious patients.
When it comes to general dentistry, a little prevention can go a long way towards avoiding serious issues in the future. By following these four simple tips, everyone in the family is sure to have improved oral health and a whiter, brighter smile.