When it comes to keeping your teeth healthy, prevention is key. Dental visits should not only be for emergencies. Focusing on good oral hygiene means you will have fewer dental emergencies, less costly dental procedures, and ultimately it helps you to keep your teeth. Seeing a dentist or dental hygienist for a dental cleaning regularly will help better prevent tooth decay and gum disease – the two main causes of tooth loss.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 1 in 4 adults in the United States have untreated tooth decay. In addition, nearly half of all adults aged 30 years or older show signs of gum disease.
Dental hygienists focus on preventative dental health and treating gum disease. A visit with a hygienist includes a professional cleaning of your teeth to remove plaque and tartar, which can cause tooth decay and gum disease. There may be a lot going on in your teeth and gums that you can’t see, but regular visits can help catch any oral health issues early. And Hygienists can provide advice on correct home care to keep your teeth and gums healthy to help prevent costly dental issues. This includes:
- Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Bacteria in the mouth can lead to plaque build-up, which wear down the tooth and cause cavities. If left untreated, bacteria that can start in the mouth can potentially spread to other areas of the body, which can complicate chronic conditions such as diabetes or heart disease. Brushing after meals and especially before bed helps fight bacteria and keep it from lingering on your teeth. Don’t forget to brush your tongue to remove bacteria and help keep breath fresh.
- Make flossing a habit. Each tooth has five sides, so brushing alone only cleans about half of the surface of your teeth. Flossing cleans in between your teeth and it only takes a few minutes a day.
- Use a mouthwash. Mouthwashes contain antibacterial ingredients that can help prevent gum disease, and fluoride to help prevent tooth decay. A dental hygienist can recommend the best type of mouthwash for you. Using a mouthwash in between the times you brush will protect your teeth and gums longer.
- Cut back on sugary and acidic food and drinks. Sugar reacts with the bacteria in plaque and produces harmful acids that can attach to your teeth. Avoiding sugary, processed foods and eating a balanced diet that is rich in vitamins, minerals, fresh fruits and vegetables can help to prevent gum disease that causes bad breath and tooth loss.
- Quit smoking. Smoking and tobacco use can lead to many negative health outcomes, including harming the mouth, gums and teeth. Smoking can lead to gum disease, tooth loss and oral cancer.
Northwest Colorado Health offers integrated preventative dental care at Community Health Centers in Craig and Steamboat Springs for patients of all ages. Established dental patients of Northwest Colorado Health are encouraged to schedule a regular cleaning to help prevent dental issues. Preventative care may include checkups, cleanings, X-rays, fluoride varnish, sealants and education. We accept most insurance, including Medicaid. Individuals with limited or no insurance can utilize the Client Assistance Program to reduce the cost of services. Call 970-824-8000 to learn more or visit northwestcoloradohealth.org/dental.