Understanding Preventive Dentistry: 5 Tips for a Healthy Mouth

Preventive dentistry can save teeth.

Your Role in Preventive Dentistry

Did you know that when you brush your teeth at home, you are actually engaging in preventive dentistry? It’s true! Of course, we know you’re not a dentist (and probably don’t play one on television). But the fact is that preventive dentistry is about partnering with your dental team to protect your pearly whites and keep your gums healthy. 

In this article, the team at Parmer Lane Family Dentistry, your family dentist in Austin, Texas, will take you through 5 tips to keep you smiling from ear to ear.

What is preventive dentistry?

Yes, preventive dentistry involves visiting your dentist every six months as well as caring for your mouth at home. But there’s more to it than that. According to the CDC, over half of kids between ages 6 and 8 have a cavity in their primary (baby) teeth. And about 25% of adults between 20 and 64 have at least one cavity.

And what about those gums? The CDC also says that gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss. Further, almost half of adults over the age of 30 are showing some signs of gum disease. That’s a lot of people with unhealthy gums!

So what’s the role of preventive dentistry? It’s to drive down those nasty statistics and drive up the number of healthy smiles by taking a proactive approach. How can you help keep your smile in great shape? Read on to find out!

5 Things You Can Do for a Healthy Mouth

Taking care of your mouth is all about building great habits and making your oral health a top priority. In fact, every choice you make can help improve your oral health.

Eating a balanced diet, avoiding harmful habits, and getting fluoride treatments for extra enamel protection are just a few examples. As we look at 5 key things you can do for a healthier mouth, consider these as daily commitments to keeping your smile bright and healthy. These habits are essential for maintaining strong teeth and gums, and they set the foundation for a lifetime of good oral health.

1. Brush and floss regularly.

We know how busy life can be, but we can’t emphasize this one enough. When you don’t brush and floss, not only do you develop bad breath (aka halitosis), but that soft plaque hardens into tartar, which can only be removed by your dental hygienist. The more buildup you have, the higher your risks for cavities and gum disease.

So first adopt the habit of brushing twice a day for two minutes at a time. The best times are after breakfast and before bed. Then be sure to floss at least once per day too, either after a meal or as you’re getting ready for bed. This will loosen any food particles that have become lodged in between your teeth.

2. Maintain a balanced diet.

Next up on the list of tooth-friendly habits has to do with the foods that you put into your body. You probably already know that a diet heavy in sugar, salt, and starch is bad for your body. Too much sugar and starch, specifically, can lead to weight gain and are leading causes of obesity around the globe. And salt isn’t all that good for you either. While a moderate dose is fine, excess salt can be bad for your heart, increasing your risks of heart attack and stroke.

But, coincidentally, these substances aren’t all that good for your teeth, either. Bad bacteria feed on the sugars from sweet treats as well as starchy foods (think potatoes, bread, rice, and pasta). As they do, they create acid that eats away at the enamel, which is what causes cavities. And excessive salt intake can cause your body to lose calcium, which may weaken the teeth.

So what should you be eating? The best foods for your teeth are:

  • Dairy products: The calcium and phosphates found in cheese, milk, and yogurt help rebuild tooth enamel and contain beneficial proteins that protect against acids.
  • Crunchy fruits and vegetables: Apples, carrots, and celery, known for their high water and fiber content, stimulate saliva production, which helps naturally cleanse the mouth and wash away food particles.
  • Leafy greens: Spinach, kale, and other leafy vegetables are packed with vitamins and minerals, particularly calcium, that help strengthen enamel.
  • Nuts and seeds: Almonds, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds are excellent sources of calcium and phosphorus, essential for repairing and protecting tooth enamel.
  • Lean proteins: Chicken, turkey, and fish not only provide phosphorus, an important mineral for protecting and rebuilding enamel, but deliver proteins that help support gum health.

3. Visit your dentist regularly.

Regular visits to your dentist are nonnegotiable in maintaining a radiant, healthy smile. Beyond just checking for cavities, these biannual appointments include professional dental cleanings that remove plaque and tartar.

Additionally, oral cancer screenings are a critical part of these visits, providing early detection that is key to effective treatment. Making time for these checkups every six months is an investment in your overall health to ensure your mouth stays free of disease and your smile stays bright and beautiful.

4. Use fluoride for stronger teeth. 

Speaking of regular dental checkups, when you’re at the dentist, be sure to ask about fluoride treatments. Fluoride plays a crucial role in preventing tooth decay by making the tooth enamel more resistant to acid attacks from plaque and sugars. 

Fluoride is found in various sources, including drinking water, certain foods, and dental care products. An excellent addition to your oral care routine is the use of a fluoridated mouthwash. Rinsing with a fluoride mouthwash after brushing and flossing provides an extra layer of protection to keep your teeth strong and healthy.

5. Ditch harmful habits. 

Recognizing how some practices can detrimentally affect your dental well-being is essential. Smoking is harmful to your overall health, with one cigarette estimated to reduce your life by 11 minutes. But it also wreaks havoc on your teeth and gums. Tobacco products, including cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, are major risk factors for oral cancer, gum disease, and tooth decay. 

Excessive alcohol consumption and nail-biting also pose risks. Studies have linked heavy alcohol consumption to increased likelihood of infections and higher risk of gum disease, while nail-biting can cause enamel wear over time. Avoiding these habits reduces your risk of serious conditions and ensures a healthier mouth.

Request your next dental checkup with Parmer Lane Family Dentistry.

You can significantly improve your dental well-being by adopting beneficial habits, visiting your Austin family dentist regularly, and steering clear of harmful practices. Remember, a proactive approach to oral care is the key to avoiding common dental issues and enjoying the benefits of a beautiful smile. 

If you want to take the next step toward optimal oral health, Parmer Lane Family Dentistry is here to support you. Reach out to us today and let us help you achieve a healthy smile.

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