If you’ve ever been to my office, then you’ve been reminded to come in for your routine cleanings and screenings. While we love seeing our patients, our goal is actually to keep them out of our office as much as possible by encouraging good dental hygiene practices. This is how we prevent problems before they begin to form. Here are three dental problems I commonly see and suggestions for preventing them.
The problem: Tooth decay.
Tooth decay is caused by the buildup of plaque on teeth, which is why it’s so important to brush and floss twice daily to keep teeth healthy. Sealants can also be used to protect teeth from cavities. Taking proactive measures to head off tooth decay now can really pay off.
The problem: Gum disease.
Gum disease is another condition that can affect anyone, but it can also be prevented with good dental hygiene practices. Gum disease starts with a bacterial infection that attacks the gums and surrounding areas, known in the early stage as gingivitis, and in the advanced stage as periodontitis. Regular brushing and flossing can reverse gingivitis, but periodontitis can become severe enough to require medication and surgery if not treated promptly. Prevent gum disease by regularly visiting the dentist, especially if your gums are tender or bleed easily.
The problem: Dry mouth.
Many people experience this uncomfortable, dry, thirst-like feeling in the mouth and throat as the side effect of a medication. Saliva helps wash away bacteria, so people with dry mouth have an increased risk of tooth decay due to the lack of saliva they produce. If you experience dry mouth, consider using a mouthwash developed specifically for dry mouth, and chew sugarless gum. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, but drink plenty of water.
Practicing good dental hygiene will help prevent these problems, but should you experience any potential warning signs, visit your dentist right away.