Sometimes, despite your best efforts, tooth decay and gum disease can crop up. It might not be anything you did wrong. As we age, cavities get more and more difficult for us to avoid, even if we’re consistent in our oral health care routines. Stress, minute changes in diet or nutrition, or even recent illnesses can set decay processes in motion.
So what do you do when your preventative measures — like brushing twice daily, flossing daily, rinsing with mouthwash and chewing sugarless gum after meals — stop working? Let’s talk about that today and hash out a plan.
Step 1: Schedule an appointment with your dentist.
At the first sign of a cavity or gum problem, you should get in to see your oral health care provider. Why? Well, the most compelling reason may be that he or she may be able to save you a lot of money.
Left untreated, cavities can quickly worsen. Dental infections, tooth fractures and tooth loss can be expensive to treat. Crowns, root canals and dental bridges can be quite expensive — especially if you don’t have comprehensive dental insurance coverage — often ranging into thousands of dollars of avoidable cost. But, if you get to the dentist at the first sign of trouble, you may be able to come away with a simple filling, or even just a bit of sealant applied to the developing cavity. If it’s the latter, you might even be able to avoid the drill!
When you go for that dentist’s appointment, make sure you’re open and honest with your dentist and hygienist about your oral health care habits, about your diet choices and about your oral health history.
No one will judge you on your oral health habits — we promise! Your dentist has probably seen and heard just about everything, so very little you could say would cause so much as a head shake. When you’re honest with your provider, he or she can determine whether you need to step up your everyday dental care, or if there is a more serious underlying problem.
Step 2: Avoid overbrushing.
Did you know that it’s actually possible to overbrush your teeth? It’s true.
It’s also possible to cause gum recession if you brush too frequently, brush too hard, use the wrong brushing motion, or use the wrong type of toothbrush. You should only use soft-bristled brushes approved by the American Dental Association (ADA)!
Many American adults still brush in circles, like they were taught when they were young. But we now know that brushing in circles can actually damage the delicate tissues of the gums and cause gum line recession.
Try brushing at a 45-degree angle to the outer surfaces of the teeth using a wiggling, up-and-down motion, being sure to get the bristles into the spaces in and around your teeth. Be sure to brush the back and chewing surface of every tooth. And go easy — don’t scrub so hard you damage the enamel of your teeth!
When you’re done brushing your teeth, lightly, very lightly, brush the all the soft tissue surfaces — along the gums, the inner surfaces of the cheeks, on and under your tongue, and the roof of your mouth. This will help to scrape off the harmful bacteria that cause bad breath, tooth decay and gum disease. Then, rinse with thoroughly with water, spit, and gargle an ADA-approved, antibacterial mouthwash like Listerine or Scope.
If you think you might be over brushing or brushing incorrectly, don’t change your routine on your own. You should talk to your dentist about your brushing habits and technique, and let him or her guide you to a better brushing routine.
Step 3: Once you’ve been for your first dental appointment, keep going!
Dental medicine isn’t a one-shot cure-all. There’s no magic filling or miracle mouthwash we can give you to make harmful bacteria stop living in your mouth. They just do.
You and your dentist are in the fight to maintain your oral health for the duration. It’s never going to end. You need to be going for regular deep cleanings and checkups (every 6 months is recommended). You need to follow through faithfully on the advice your dentist gives you for home care. And you need to pay close attention to the health of your teeth and gums — for the rest of your life.
That’s not hard to do. In fact, once you’ve made twice-a-day brushing, regular flossing and a low-sugar/low-acid diet your regular routine, it’ll feel weird to miss a day of brushing. A good oral health care routine is cheap, easy to follow and good for your smile.
Need to find a dentist in Colorado? Click here to contact us and schedule your new patient dental visit! We’re here and happy to help. Or, if you already have a provider and haven’t been in the office for a while, schedule your next appointment right away.
A beautiful, healthy smile begins with your good oral health care habits. But no matter how diligent you are, you need an expert dentist to back you up.