Your child’s first loose baby tooth is a significant milestone for both of you. Parents and children alike both love showing off a big toothless grin, and a loose tooth...
There’s an old dental joke that you only need to floss the teeth you want to keep. The comedy comes from the assumption that we all want to keep all of our teeth – and it’s absolutely true. But what about when you’re faced with regular cavities, gingivitis, broken crowns, or other setbacks that damage your smile? Preventive dentistry is becoming the name of the game.
By keeping dental problems from arising in the first place, you save yourself time, effort, energy, money, discomfort and more. But you need to make daily commitments to see real results from your home care. We want to do everything possible to keep dental disease out of your mouth and life. If you’re ever unsure about how to brush, floss, eat, or otherwise care for your teeth, just get in touch for personalized guidance.
Before your next dental exam, read up on some of the top tooth protection tactics that will keep your smile in great shape. Tooth loss is not a certainty: with the proper care, you can retain your teeth for decades to come.
The Facts on Tooth Loss
With improvements in personal hygiene, dental technology and our ever-increasing knowledge of the body, tooth loss is on the decline. Gone are the days when diseased teeth were extracted and replaced with dentures as patients aged. Today’s dentists are as conservative as possible and do everything they can to preserve teeth. And you can help.
The top cause of tooth loss is periodontal disease. If you make sure to prevent gum disease, you have a much more likely chance of keeping your teeth (and preventing the other problems that can accompany periodontitis).
Another important factor is protecting your teeth from harm. This means never using them as tools, and making sure you’re not grinding your teeth at night. We’ve compiled these tips and more in a helpful list below – scan this to spot areas in your life that might benefit from improvement.
What to Avoid to Build & Protect Healthy Teeth
- Using teeth as tools – We know how easy it is to bite into a package instead of walking all the way to the kitchen to grab scissors. Life is busy, and there’s not always time to get the appropriate tool. But it’s extremely important that you never treat your teeth this way. Your enamel wasn’t made to stand up to materials like plastic and metal. Sooner or later, you’ll find your tooth crumble away after biting into something you shouldn’t. If you have dental work, this is even more of a concern. The last thing you want is to destroy a filling or crown in an already rushed moment.
- Bruxism – Grinding your teeth has big consequences, even though it seems like a little bad habit. Clenching your jaw from time to time is one thing, but long-term grinding is dangerous to your enamel and your jaw joints. Long-term grinding will not only erode your enamel but lead to receding gums. Gum recession exposes your tooth roots, which are yellow and darken your smile. Tooth roots are also more sensitive and likely to cause twinges when eating/drinking something hot or cold. If your grinding goes on unchecked, it can lead to a TMJ disorder.
- Stress – Anxiety is one of the major causes of grinding – the two are inextricably linked. And it’s difficult to stop grinding if you’re not able to address the underlying cause of your overactive jaw. Try different approaches to stress management if you’re ready to leave clenching behind. Not only will reducing your anxiety protect your teeth, quitting grinding will also reduce headaches and improve your sleep!
- Sweet or acidic beverages – Every time you take a sip of a drink, you bathe your teeth in the liquid. When you’re sipping on water or milk, this can be a positive thing – those beverages rinse away acids and help establish healthy teeth and a good oral pH. But when you’re drinking pop or an energy drink, that bath is nothing but acid and sugar. If you tend to sip on sweet drinks throughout the day, try to start weaning yourself off them and choosing water instead. You’ll see fewer cavities, and your entire body will feel better to boot.
- Inconsistent oral hygiene – Only floss every once in a while? Make this the year you take your flossing to the next level. Regular brushing and flossing remove bacteria before it’s able to form a layer of plaque, and help remove plaque before it hardens into tartar (which must be removed by a dental professional). This lowers your chances of gingivitis. If you’re struggling to get flossing, set a nightly alarm on your phone or leave yourself a note on the bathroom mirror.
- Gingivitis – This is the first stage of periodontal disease – and at this point, it’s very manageable. Patients who notice gingivitis can typically reverse it at home with excellent, consistent brushing and flossing. But if inflammation progresses to infection, it’s far more difficult to treat. Check out our blog post on preventing gingivitis to get great guidance on keeping it at bay.
- Skipping dental exams – They might be annoying, but regular dental exams are the simplest way to keep your teeth in fighting shape. Dr. Hoffman and your hygienist will spot problems before they’re able to grow, keeping your smile safe and sound. How long has it been since your last dental exam? If it’s been more than 6 months, schedule your next today!