Dental Care

Published: February 1, 2012

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Dental Care

A healthy mouth and a healthy smile are important for your overall health. Your teeth and gums require routine care at home and from a medical professional. The amount of dental care that you require depends on several factors including your genetics, hygiene, diet, occupation, and living conditions. Some people experience chronic dental problems even though they always visit the dentist, and others rarely experience problems even though they never visit the doctor.

Regardless, experts recommend that people visit the dentist at least twice a year for routine examinations and teeth cleaning. This way, it is possible to identify minor conditions before they become serious. For example, a cavity, when caught early requires only minimal treatment for repair. If a cavity is left untreated for an extended period of time, the tooth's pulp might become infected, and a root canal will be necessary to prevent potential nerve damage.

Common Conditions

  • Dental cavities occur as a result of natural bacterial processes that facilitate the decomposition of food. When bacteria produce acid, your tooth will start to decompose, and a small hole, a cavity, will form. When they start to form, cavities may not be painful. As the tooth continues to decompose, nerve roots may become damaged, and the cavity will be painful.
  • Tooth decay is a disease that occurs when cavities are left untreated. Tooth decay can lead to severe pain and puts you at risk for infection, losing your tooth, and death.
  • Plaque is a kind of buildup on your teeth. The buildup is invisible but can cause yellow staining on the teeth and gums if you don't use proper oral hygiene.
  • Tartar is dental plaque that has hardened on the teeth. Brushing and flossing can remove plaque, but once tartar forms, hardened stains can only be removed professionally.
  • Gingivitis is a condition that causes the gums to become irritated. It occurs as a result of bacterial plaque buildup. Sometimes, gingivitis can escalate into a more serious infection called "trench mouth." Risk factors include an excess of bacteria, stress, malnutrition, and problems with the immune system.
  • Teeth sensitivity can occur for a variety of reasons. Some people have sensitive teeth during certain times of year or when eating hot or cold food. Sensitive teeth might result from a minor or serious problem.

Professional Care

Experts recommend that people seek professional care every six months for routine exams and procedures. Some people might need to see a dentist more often.

Home Care

Take several steps to ensure that you are taking care of your teeth. A few minutes of dental care per day can save you from extensive problems in the future. Every person will need a dental care plan that is specific to his or her unique needs. In general, people should follow these tips:

  • Avoid snacks that are high in sugar
  • Brush teeth twice a day
  • Replace toothbrush approximately every three months or as soon as the bristles show deteriorated quality
  • Limit snacking
  • Floss once a day since toothbrushes can't reach all corners

Dental Care Tips for Children

For children, dental care is all about encouragement and teaching. Sometimes, it can be tough to get your kid into a brushing routine or habit. Regardless, it is important that you remain patient. Follow these tips when getting your child into an oral care routine:

  • Follow routine checkups four times a year
  • Run a warm, wet washcloth over the baby's gums after feeding
  • Make sure that your children see a dentist before they turn one
  • Consider fluoride supplements
  • See a pediatric dentist to help develop a steady routine
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