Preventative Dental Care – What You Can Do To Help

Mike Allen offers some advice on how to care better for your teeth and gums

Becoming a dentist takes many years of study and training, and the years of experience behind our team means that they have probably encountered most dental problems. These skills are necessary and essential and however well our Burton patients look after their teeth, it is almost inevitable that some will still require dental surgery at some point in their life, whether due to an accident or general wear and tear.

Having said that, many routine dental treatments such as a filling are largely avoidable, or can certainly be reduced, if we improve the way that we look after our teeth at home. In today’s Mike Allen’s Dental Practice blog, we are going to take a look at some of the essential things that you can do to give your teeth and gums a fighting chance of avoiding the need for invasive treatments.

Take care of your diet

We aren’t about to get on our ‘soapbox’ and tell you that you should never eat sugar, or foods containing it. Firstly, this is now almost impossible as sugar is included in many foods, including some that you wouldn’t expect. Secondly, life is for living and the occasional treat of a slice of cake, for example, can brighten up what might have been a less than pleasant day.

The key is in knowledge, and the ability to generally maintain our healthy eating. Essential food groups such as vegetables contribute many minerals and vitamins that are essential for good health. Protein too is important to build muscles that allow us to function. Most ‘health guides’ will tell you all of this but few will mention the psychological benefits of ‘treats’. The key thing here is that these should be occasional and as a part of a healthy diet should not cause too many problems if you make sure to clean your teeth well.

Smoking and alcohol

Alcohol can be consumed in moderate quantities without too many problems, but if consumed too regularly or in excess can have an impact on both our general and oral health. As we suspect many of you will know, drinking too much alcohol leads to dehydration which not only causes a hangover, but leaves the mouth very dry. Anyone who has woken up with a dry mouth after drinking may have noticed a ‘gooey’ white substance in their mouth. This is caused by a growth in the number of bacteria which thrive in warm and dry environments.  Ideally, you should keep your alcohol consumption to a minimum and make sure that when you do drink, you also drink plenty of water to help avoid dehydration.

Smoking should not be done at any level and so should ideally be stopped altogether. It is one of the leading causes of both gum disease, which can even lead to eventual tooth loss, and oral cancer. In addition to this, it is an expensive habit and we suspect that there are better things to do with the money saved!

Home teeth cleaning habits

Most of us probably think we look after our teeth by brushing them morning and evening. This is certainly a good start but even within this, there is much that you can do to improve things.

Firstly, are you brushing correctly? This probably isn’t something we think a lot about, but we should.  First of all, is your toothbrush fit for purpose or are the bristles tired and worn out? You should replace the brush or brush head every three months. Make sure not just to ‘flat brush’ too and angle the bristles so that they reach beneath the gum line and remove food and bacteria from there as well. Also, spit but don’t rinse afterwards. Allowing the fluoride in the toothpaste to act longer will help to strengthen the enamel of your teeth.

We know that a number of people don’t use dental floss either. If not, you really should. Flossing between the teeth is an excellent way of removing trapped food and bacteria and many cases of tooth decay start in these places. Yes, it can feel a little tricky at first, but there are plenty of reliable videos that show you how to do it correctly and in no time, you will find that this takes just a few minutes out of your day.

Keep appointments

Finally, although you can do much to keep your mouth healthy using the above advice, this shouldn’t be a substitute for professional care. Very small problems can soon become much bigger if you don’t have your teeth and gums checked on a regular basis. Although the aim is to avoid problems such as cavities, the reality is that these can still occur and it is far better to have a small cavity filled than leave it to become bigger and need more invasive treatment, potentially even including the need to have the tooth extracted.

If you don’t already see our Burton based oral hygienist then you really should. This is an excellent way to help maintain healthy gums and will also help to prevent the many unpleasant symptoms of gum disease which can include inflamed gums and bad breath. For most people, a six monthly professional clean by the hygienist should be sufficient. Patients more vulnerable to oral health issues, such as diabetics and others with a compromised immune system, may need this done more regularly. This non-invasive treatment will give you a much improved chance of maintaining a healthy mouth.

We do recommend that you take a look at ways to improve how you take care of your teeth and remember that we are here for any advice or for an appointment if you have any concerns about your teeth or gums. If you need to contact us, you can do so by calling Mike Allen’s Dental Practice on 01283 845345 and our friendly team will be pleased to help.