To many people, their plan for oral health basically consists of doing whatever they feel is necessary to avoid going to the dentist. Perhaps they brush their teeth semi-regularly (albeit incorrectly); they might even floss once in a while. A visit to the dentist doesn’t come into the picture unless they’re experiencing tooth pain — and even then, because they’re afraid of the dentist, they may wait it out until the pain becomes unbearable.
The reality is that practicing good oral health (including regular visits to the dentist) can actually prevent or minimize many of the more serious problems that can happen with your teeth. The following patient’s guide to oral health will help you cover all the bases.
Preventative Care and Maintenance
Remember the saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?” It definitely applies to your mouth. Most serious tooth problems are preventable by establishing a basic routine designed to keep your teeth healthy. To maintain good oral hygiene, do the following:
- Brush thoroughly twice a day.
- Floss once a day.
- Switch to an electric toothbrush. (The vibrating bristles can dislodge more potentially dangerous plaque from your teeth.)
- Change your toothbrush every couple of months.
- Avoid tobacco use. (Smoking and chewing tobacco are both unhealthy for teeth, but snuff and chewing tobacco in particular can cause a wide range of serious oral health problems.
- Schedule regular visits to the dentist for checkups and cleanings, even when you have no signs of trouble. (Typically every 6 months.)
- Schedule regular dental X-rays, which can detect problems early so they can be treated before they become painful.
Respond at the First Sign of Trouble
Even with a good oral health plan in place, occasionally problems can emerge. The earlier you see a dentist or oral surgeon when problems arise, the easier and less painful it usually is to address and correct those problems. Tooth pain and bleeding gums are obvious signs of trouble, but you should also learn the warning signs of common conditions like oral thrush and periodontal disease. For more information, check out these 5 signs that it’s time to see an oral specialist.
Understanding Tooth Loss and Replacement
Adult tooth loss is one of the most common oral health issues, and it can be caused by any of a number of factors. Unfortunately, many people simply choose to live with tooth loss instead of replacing their missing teeth, which can lead to a cascading array of more serious oral issues. In some situations, a dentist or oral surgeon may recommend dental extraction of a tooth that is either diseased or is causing problems with your other teeth. The good news is, dental patients today have a number of treatment options for replacing missing teeth, including a variety of choices for dental prostheses. It may be tempting to try and avoid the cost of tooth replacement, but in the long run you will save money and additional pain by preventing the additional health problems tooth loss can cause.
Finally, some people opt for a number of dental procedures and treatments that are simply intended to improve their smile. Tooth whitening procedures can remove stubborn stains and make you look more youthful, while applying veneers can make you look and feel like you have a whole new set of teeth. Sometimes, a dental procedure can serve both health and aesthetic purposes — for example, getting dental implants to replace a set of crooked, decaying or diseased teeth. If you’re unhappy with your current smile, talk to your oral surgeon about what options might be available to you.
At Riverside Oral Facial Surgery, we are committed to providing the best care and treatment while instructing our patients on the best practices for optimal oral health. To learn more, call us at (706) 235-5570.