What your dentist really wants you to know
Do you ever worry about what your dentist will find when you come to visit? Sitting in a dental chair may not be your first choice on how to spend your afternoon, but making the trip is important to your health. From brushing to bad breath, knowing these eight facts, provided by William Wathen, DMD, associate professor at the Texas A&M University Baylor College of Dentistry, will make both you and your dentist smile at your next appointment.
Your mouth is the window to your overall health
Your mouth is overflowing with hundreds and hundreds of bacteria, making it the most contaminated part of your body. Not practicing healthy habits, like brushing and flossing every day, can lead to bacteria getting out of control, causing inflammation of the gums (gingivitis) and bone loss (periodontitis). “Skin keeps blood inside, germs outside,” says Wathen, which is why getting infections like gingivitis and periodontitis under control immediately is vital. These infections can open the door to other health issues, such as cardiovascular disease or possibly pancreatic cancer.
You may not be brushing and flossing adequately
If your daily routine doesn’t include adequately brushing and flossing your teeth at least twice, you are definitely not doing it enough. Throughout the day, a substance called plaque builds up on your teeth, allowing for bacteria to grow. Brushing and flossing is the best way to remove this buildup to prevent any possible infections. According to the American Dental Association, you should brush your teeth two times per day for at least two minutes. A quick trick: Turn on your favorite song and brush from beginning to end.
There is such thing as over-brushing, though
Brushing twice a day is great, but much more than that can cause damage to your pearly whites. Brushing your teeth helps remove bacteria, but it also can remove enamel—the important layer that protects the tooth from decay. Additionally, vigorously brushing your teeth can cause tooth sensitivity and bleeding gums. To avoid damage, use a soft bristled brush.
Bleeding gums are NOT okay
A little bleeding while brushing may seem harmless, but it is not considered normal at all. Bleeding indicates that there is a hole in your gums and all the bacteria in your mouth now have an opportunity to get into your bloodstream. If your gums bleed often while brushing, consult with your dentist about possible causes.
Bad breath might be a dental problem
Are you part of the 50 percent of people suffering from bad breath? Causes of bad breath, also known as halitosis, extend beyond a dish full of garlic and onions. Medical conditions, such as diabetes or gum disease, may be the culprit.
Cavities aren’t just from eating too much sugar
Yes, eating loads of candy or drinking sugary beverages can cause cavities, but these treats are not the only reason for tooth decay, which occurs when your enamel is broken down by being exposed to acid on a regular basis. Medical conditions, such as eating disorders or heartburn, can cause cavities, along with other factors like age and genetics.
Children should start healthy habits early
Knowing when to begin your baby’s dental care can be confusing, but starting sooner rather than later is your best bet. Cavities are the most chronic disease in children, making it especially important to encourage brushing teeth on a daily basis. Baby teeth are placeholders for adult teeth, and losing them too early could cause issues, like growing in crooked or overcrowding other teeth, later on when permanent teeth begin to appear.
You need to visit your dentist more
When your mouth is the gateway to your health, it needs to be checked on a regular basis. But what is the magic number? Many say every six months, but the American Dental Association says it depends on your health status, and frequency of visits should be recommended by your dentist, based on your risks factors for tooth decay and gum disease.