1. At Home Care
Brushing and flossing are at the core of great care. Adults as well as children should be brushing twice daily, along with developing proper daily flossing techniques. Having healthy eating habits also helps reduce risks, as frequent intake of carbohydrate— rich or sugary foods increase the chance of tooth decay.
2. Fluoride: Too Much or Too Little
The right amount of fluoride helps to prevent and control tooth decay in both children and in adults. How it does this is by both incorporating itself into the structure of developing teeth when it is ingested and protecting teeth once it comes in contact with the surface of the teeth. Today we obtain fluoride from a majority of toothpastes as well as from water. Fluoride is a natural occurring mineral and a majority of community water systems have also adjusted the naturally existing levels by adding the safe, optimum amount. This mineral, when combined with others such as calcium and phosphate, not only strengthens teeth, but can rebuild them as well.
Although these are more often recommended for children and teenagers, dental sealants are also beneficial to adults. A thin, resin coating that is painted on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth, sealants serve as a protective shield and barrier for those hard to keep clean nooks and crannies. Many insurance companies cover sealant costs for children and it is an easy and painless process. Sealents can prevent tooth decay for up to 10 years, as long as the sealant remains intact. Your dentist will be able to evaluate your risk for decay and determine if sealants are the right treatment for you.
4. Making that Visit
As we work together to encourage dental visits for our children and youth, starting as soon as 6 months when the first tooth arrives, we should also be mindful of our own needs as adults. According to a Harris Poll survey collected in April 2014, approximately 22.9% of adults indicated they were not sure or were not planning on visiting a dentist within the next 12 months. Regular visits to the office are an important part of preventative healthcare, allowing you to become aware of developing risks and potential issues.
Encouraging our youth to practice great oral health habits serves to also remind you to be mindful of your own needs as well.The development of good practices is not solely for the young and sometimes it is easy to say that we do not have the time or the need to do so. Sitting in a chair twice a year for an hour or so for a check and cleaning is a lot better than a lifetime of easily prevented toothaches. We may not need the extra bubblegum flavoring, but that shouldn’t stop us all from making our health our first priority.
Besides, who doesn’t love that fresh tingling feeling you get when you crack that first smile? We sure do.