While healthy teeth are strong enough to withstand a significant amount of pressure, the surface is actually quite porous. Over time plaque and bacteria will damage tooth enamel and compromise the health of your gums. That’s why is so vitally important to take the time to give your teeth the daily care they need and supplement your home-care with professional dental cleanings. With good dental habits, your teeth could last a lifetime.
Conscientious Dental Care Begins at Home
Even with regular dental checkups, the way you care for your teeth at home can significantly impact your oral health. We are creatures of habit, good habits and bad habits develop over time. Many of us find it beneficial to reevaluate the way they care for our teeth periodically.
There are three essential elements involved in basic oral hygiene, brushing, flossing, and rinsing. Each step in the process has an important function, skipping a step or two, or performing them incorrectly, can derail even the best intentions. Consider your adherence to the following recommendations:
Your Brushing Technique
The American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth twice each day with a fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled brush. Hold your toothbrush at an angle, a 45-degree angle to your gums, and clean your teeth with short strokes (about as wide as your tooth). Be sure to get every surface. You should be cleaning the back sides of your front teeth while holding your toothbrush vertically, with several up-and-down strokes. Aim for two minutes twice per day. Some people find it quite helpful to set a timer to be sure they are brushing for the full two minutes.
Your Flossing Technique
Flossing helps protect your smile from tooth decay and gum disease, so it’s important to remember to floss your teeth at least once each day. Dental floss removes food particles and plaque from between your teeth and under your gum line, the places where the bristles of your brush can’t reach. For good flossing technique, it’s important to start with a full 18 inches of dental floss, winding the surplus around your middle fingers as you work. Hold the floss firmly between your thumbs and index fingers as you slide it gently between your teeth. Work in a gentle up and down motion. Be sure to curve your dental floss around the base of your teeth and beneath the gum line using a clean section between each tooth to avoid spreading bacteria.
Your Rinsing Habits
Rinsing your mouth after brushing and flossing with an antiseptic mouthwash or rinse is a simple way of protecting the health of your teeth and gums. Using an antiseptic mouthwash regularly reduces your risk of cavities and gum disease by eliminating the bacteria left behind after brushing and flossing. The regular use of mouth wash or rinse is also shown to reverse the effects of gingivitis, an early form of gum disease. To make the most of your mouthwash, rinse your mouth vigorously for thirty seconds to ensure the liquid makes contact with all of your teeth, then gargle for 30-60 seconds to eliminate the bacteria on the back of your tongue.
Protecting Your Future Smile with Professional Dental Cleanings
While diligent home care will remove food debris and plaque, only your dentist or dental hygienist can safely remove tartar, calcified plaque. Dental tartar, also referred to as calculus, has a consistency quite similar to concrete and needs to be removed from your teeth by a trained professional.
It’s the plaque and tartar clinging to your teeth that cause decay and periodontal disease. If your teeth are not professionally cleaned regularly, as often as your dentist recommends, calcified plaque can form beneath your gum line, causing mouth pain, infection and periodontal disease. Periodontitis, gum disease, can cause tooth loss even if you’ve never had a single cavity. Consider the following benefits of professional dental cleanings:
- Removes calcified plaque, reducing your risk of cavities and tooth loss
- Reduces your risk of gum disease and damage to the bones that support your teeth
- Allows your dentist to find early signs of tooth fracture or damaged fillings
- Allows your dentist the opportunity to detect small cavities before they become problematic
- Reduces your likelihood of needing root scaling, a cleaning process more complicated (and expensive) than standard cleaning
- MInimizes your risk of several serious medical concerns including heart disease, prenatal complications, and atherosclerosis (hardened, narrowed arteries).
- Life can get hectic, so its easy for people to put off seeing their dentist until they have a significant problem with their teeth. While this is understandable, it’s important to remember to visit your dentist even when your teeth and gums seem perfectly healthy, to keep them that way. Preventative measures are always a worthwhile investment of your time.
The High Cost of Neglecting Preventative Care
Those with dental insurance will likely find it reassuring to know that many insurance companies cover the entire cost of dental exams, x-rays, and cleaning once or twice each year. Your coverage will depend on your particular insurance provider. Most people with dental insurance pay little to nothing out of pocket.
Even those without dental insurance should consider the money-saving benefits of professional dental cleaning. Regular dental examinations and cleanings can keep small problems from becoming expensive restorations. Consider the average potential costs of the following procedures:
- Filling a cavity $200 – $300 +
- Porcelain crown $500 – $1500 +
- Single dental implant $2000 – $3000 +
- Tooth extraction $75 – $600 + (depending on the complexity of the procedure)
- Treatment for periodontal disease $500 – $10,000 +
- Dental problems that are detected early are often significantly less costly to treat. Depending on where you live a standard cleaning (prophylaxis) with x-rays and a dental exam can cost as little as $75.00, even without dental insurance.
Learn More About Dental Hygiene
Maintaining the health of your smile requires daily brushing, flossing, rinsing, and having your teeth cleaned and examined as often as your dentist recommends. To schedule a consultation or appointment in the Oceanside, CA area, contact us at North Coast Dental Excellence. New patients are always welcome and may qualify for an introductory offer. At North Coast Dental Excellence we offer family dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, and dental restoration, including periodontal therapy.