An Overview of Dental Care

Your dentist is there to make sure your teeth and smile are in the best shape they can be. But it’s your everyday habits and routines that will ultimately determine your dental health. Whether you visit your dentist regularly or it’s been a while since your last check-up, there are certain sure-fire ways to help keep your dental health in top shape.

Brushing and Cleaning Between Your Teeth

It’s common knowledge that you need to brush your teeth—at least twice a day to control the plaque and bacteria that may cause tooth decay. Plaque accumulates on your teeth within 12 hours. Removing plaque from your teeth also helps to prevent gum disease.

Cleaning between your teeth once a day, or whenever you have food debris stuck there, is also recommended. Besides string dental floss, you can use dental picks, tiny brushes, or water flossers. In fact, 35 percent of plaque builds up between your teeth. If you don’t clean between your teeth, you’re leaving it there which may put you at risk for tooth decay and gum disease, both of which start between the teeth.

Cut Down on Sweets and Snacks

The link between sugary, sweet food and tooth decay is well known. If you think about it, every meal or snack you have is performing some sort of dental care or damage to your teeth. But the real problem is that sugar is often hidden in foods that you don’t realize. If you have a sweet tooth, be sure to talk to your dentist about how to eat more fresh, unpackaged foods and check labels for sugar content before eating processed food.

The American Dental Association also recommends cutting down on eating and drinking between meals because people usually choose sugary foods and drinks or those with empty calories. If you need a snack, consider dental-friendly foods such as yogurt, fruit, vegetables, or nuts. Drink water.

Signs of Gum Disease

One of the most common signs that you need a dental check-up is that your gums are bleeding. You may notice blood when you eat or on your toothbrush. This is a sure sign you’re overdue for a dental check-up and you should book an appointment to assess the cause.

Over time, gingivitis and bleeding gums can turn into a chronic inflammatory process known as gum disease. But the key to having healthy gums is to get the condition diagnosed in its early stage. Gingivitis can be treated and reversed. If left undiagnosed, gum disease can progress, making your gums recede and potentially leading to eventual bone loss that can result in loose, mobile teeth. Brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and keeping up-to-date with dental check-ups is the best prevention against gum disease.

Bad Breath

A large proportion of people who identify as having bad breath, or who are told they have bad breath, have a problem with their dental health. Monitoring your dental care includes being aware of signs like bad breath which can indicate an issue that needs addressing. Remember that your dentist will understand. Dentists are trained and familiar with bad breath and will often be able to help you resolve it by identifying an underlying dental condition.

Make Dental Visits a Habit

A dental care routine that involves regular check-ups and cleanings is one of the most important factors in maintaining good oral health. Regular check-ups can prevent tooth decay, gum disease, oral cancer, and other dental conditions. Dental diseases are easily addressed if diagnosed early, so it’s important not to wait until you have a problem before you see your dentist. It's best to prevent dental problems before they even happen.

Modern dental offices are set up with the newest equipment that is both fast and painless, so you will often be surprised by how pleasant a trip to the dentist really is.

If you’re putting off your appointment because you’re afraid of the dentist, don't worry, you’re not alone. Dental anxiety is one of the most common reasons that people avoid regular check-ups. Unfortunately, this can mean disaster for your dental health.

Be assured that your dentist sees people who experience dental anxiety every day. In fact, dentists are highly trained in easing nerves and helping patients slowly settle into realizing that the dentist isn’t actually that bad. If you do suffer from dental anxiety, it’s important to let the office know before your check-up. They will often schedule an appointment that will focus mainly on discussing why you fear professional dental care.

If You Have a Dental Problem, Don't Wait

One of the biggest misconceptions that people have about their mouths is that they think problems will fix themselves. Nearly every problem that occurs in the mouth will get worse and may reach a point in which your dentist cannot repair it. But, if you do receive a treatment plan, it’s important to know that any delay can result in the treatment being ineffective due to the advancement of the condition. For example, cavities will continue to grow until they reach the nerve inside your tooth, potentially resulting in an abscess.

A Word From Verywell

While dental care can often seem like an effort, it’s important to see it as a healthy habit that will keep giving back for life. Building habits around maintaining your oral health—like avoiding harmful foods, eating the right diet, recognizing the signs of dental disease, keeping up with your oral hygiene, and visiting your dentist regularly—will keep you smiling well into old age.

Was this page helpful?

Article Sources

  1. Yadav SR, Kini VV, Padhye A. Inhibition of Tongue Coat and Dental Plaque Formation by Stabilized Chlorine Dioxide Vs Chlorhexidine Mouthrinse: A Randomized, Triple Blinded Study. J Clin Diagn Res. 2015;9(9):ZC69-74. doi:10.7860/JCDR/2015/14587.6510

  2. Chapple IL, Van der weijden F, Doerfer C, et al. Primary prevention of periodontitis: managing gingivitis. J Clin Periodontol. 2015;42 Suppl 16:S71-6. doi:10.1111/jcpe.12366

  3. Aylıkcı BU, Colak H. Halitosis: From diagnosis to management. J Nat Sci Biol Med. 2013;4(1):14-23. doi:10.4103/0976-9668.107255

  4. Appukuttan DP. Strategies to manage patients with dental anxiety and dental phobia: literature review. Clin Cosmet Investig Dent. 2016;8:35-50. doi:10.2147/CCIDE.S63626

Additional Reading