Prosthodontics, Implants, Cosmetic & Reconstructive Dentistry

Dental Care Basics You Should Know for Healthy Teeth

Most of us assume that we know enough about dental care basics. However, there are basic dental care issues that we ignore daily. Your dental health depends on whether you are using the proper dental care techniques like flossing and brushing and how much you know about caring for your oral health.

What is Basic Dental Care?

Basic dental care encompasses taking care of your teeth by brushing and flossing, visiting your dentist for cleaning and checkup, and eating a healthy diet that includes foods like fruits and vegetables, dairy products, and whole grains.

Dental care is critical because:

  • It guards against tooth decay

  • It prevents periodontal or gum diseases that damage your gums and the surrounding bones that support your teeth. Gum disease can eventually lead to teeth loss

  • It saves you the money you might spend on expensive dental procedures

  • It shortens your dentist visits

  • It prevents halitosis or bad breath. When you brush and floss regularly, you get rid of bacteria that cause halitosis or bad breath

  • It helps to keep your teeth clean by preventing stains from tobacco, food, and drinks

  • Your teeth last longer until your old age

For most people, taking care of teeth comes easy because it is a routine from a young age. However, some people neglect their teeth and never visit a dentist. According to the World Health Organization (WHO):

  • Sixty to ninety percent of school-going children get at least one cavity

  • Almost 100% of adults have one cavity or more

  • 15 to 20% of adults aged between 35-44 have a severe form of gum disease

  • Approximately 30% of people globally between 65-74 have no natural teeth remaining

  • Out of every 100,000 people globally, at least one to ten cases have oral cancer

  • Oral disease is more common in economically disadvantaged people

Signs of Poor Oral Hygiene

Here are some of the signs of poor oral hygiene:

  • Tooth Decay

The hard outer coating on your teeth is called the enamel. Dental plaque is bacteria that builds upon the enamel. These bacteria produce acids that eat into the enamel and cause holes called cavities. Brushing and flossing your teeth keeps off decay, but when you get a cavity in your tooth, the only solution is a filling from a dentist to prevent the cavity from becoming worse.

Using toothpaste with fluoride protects your teeth from decaying. If you have a condition or take certain medicines that may cause cavities, you need to use more fluoride by either using a fluoride mouth rinse or a fluoride treatment from your dentist.

  • Gum Disease

When plaque builds up under your gum line, it can cause infections that affect both the gum and the underlying bone. Gingivitis is a condition that makes your gums feel tender and bleed when brushing. It is treatable by brushing and flossing daily. Periodontitis is a more severe gum disease that needs the care of a dentist. If periodontitis is left untreated, it leads to tender and bleeding gums, pain while chewing, and, if not treated, a premature loss of teeth.

  • Sensitive Teeth

If you have sensitive teeth, there is discomfort or pain when you take hot or cold foods or drinks. Another name for tooth sensitivity is dentin hypersensitivity, and it can often happen because of receding gums, gum disease, worn-out crowns or fillings, or cracked teeth.

Another cause of sensitive teeth in some people is due to thinner than normal enamel. Most times, the treatment for sensitive teeth is changing your daily dental routine. There are specific toothpaste brands that are in the market for sensitive teeth.

  • Oral Cancer

Oral cancer is common, especially among tobacco users, but also among non-tobacco users. Oral cancer can include cancer of the:

  1. Lips

  2. Tongue

  3. Gums

  4. Hard and soft palates

  5. Mouth floor

  6. Cheeks

Visiting a dentist is crucial because the visits include oral cancer screening. If you have any signs of oral cancer, the dentist will be the first to notice. As mentioned, people who use tobacco, such as chewing or smoking, carry the most considerable risk of developing various oral cancers. The earlier the cancer is detected, the better for you.

  • Dry Mouth

A dry mouth is a condition that occurs when you do not have enough spit or saliva to keep the mouth lubricated. This makes it difficult to speak, taste, or swallow food. A dry mouth makes you susceptible to fungal infections and tooth decay. Most medicines like those used for hypertension, bladder control conditions, or antidepressants cause dry mouth.

Not visiting a dentist will worsen the effects of dry mouth because you have no information to go by about the condition. Your dentist may recommend using artificial saliva and ask you to stay away from smoking, sugary drinks, caffeine, acidic drinks, alcohol, or spicy food. You can sip on a sugarless drink like water throughout the day or eat a tart and sugarless gum.

  • A Decline in General Health

Researchers have linked oral and general health. A healthy mouth can mean better general health as inflammation and oral bacteria have been linked to:

  1. Heart diseases such as endocarditis, which are an inflammation of the heart’s lining. Bacteria can spread from your mouth into your bloodstream, leading to infective endocarditis. This is a potentially life-threatening condition that affects the valves of your heart. Your dentist may prescribe antibiotics before embarking on any dental procedures.

  2. Low birth weight and premature births

  3. Diabetes

Treatment of Oral and Dental Issues

Even if you practice good oral hygiene, you still need at least one professional tooth cleaning twice a year. If you have any signs of other issues like infections or oral cancer, your dentist will advise you on the best treatment. Here are some of these practices.

  1. Cleaning

Professional cleaning gets rid of stubborn plaque that brushing cannot easily remove. The cleaning removes all tartar, and the dentist brushes your teeth using a high-power toothbrush. What follows after is flossing and rinsing that gets rid of debris in the mouth. Deep cleaning, also called root planing or scaling, removes tartar from below and above the gumline.

  1. Antibiotics

If your dentist sees any signs of a tooth abscess or gum infection that has affected your other teeth or spread to the jaw, you will get an antibiotics prescription. The antibiotic can be in the form of oral capsules, tablets, gel, or mouthwash. During surgical procedures, a topical antibiotic gel is applied to your gums or teeth.

  1. Fluoride treatments

As mentioned earlier, a dentist may decide to give you a fluoride treatment to protect your teeth against cavities. Fluoride is a natural mineral that strengthens the enamel and makes your teeth less susceptible to cavities caused by acids and bacteria.

  1. Probiotics

Other than their role in digestion, research has proven that probiotics may also benefit your dental health. Probiotics prevent bad breath and keep plaque at bay. They also play a role in reducing inflammation and the prevention of oral cancer. However, more clinical trials are yet to be carried out to prove how effective the probiotics are. Eat foods high in probiotics like kimchi, kefir, yogurt, miso, tempeh and sauerkraut.

How to Take Care of Your Dental Health

Visiting a dentist is crucial, but there are basic things that should always be a part of your routine between visits.

  • Do Not Brush Immediately After Taking Acidic Foods or Drinks

After taking acidic food or drinks like orange juice, wait before you brush your teeth. This is because acidic foods or drinks soften the enamel temporarily. Brushing your teeth immediately while the enamel is soft could wear off the enamel, making your teeth susceptible to decay.

  • Use a Soft Brush

The general rule of thumb in dental care is to change your toothbrush every three months. If your brush is hard-bristled, replace it immediately. Firm bristles, as much as they will leave your teeth clean, are abrasive and damage your teeth with time. A soft-bristled toothbrush is the best for brushing your teeth.

  • Use Mouthwash

Brushing and flossing twice a day may be okay, but you can add the use of an antimicrobial mouthwash that kills bacteria in your mouth. Mouthwash helps keep plaque at bay, and you should swish the mouth wash for at least 30 seconds.

You can also chew sugar-free gum, which reduces oral bacteria and encourages saliva flow. The flow of saliva floods your teeth with phosphate and calcium ions that help to restore the enamel.

  • Quit Smoking

Avoid all tobacco products as they cause oral cancer and gum diseases. Secondhand smoke also causes gum disease and various health issues.

  • Avoid Sugary Foods and Beverages

Avoid sugary food and drinks as the sugar encourages bacterial growth and causes a decline in your oral health over time if no countermeasures are taken like brushing or rinsing the mouth with water after consumption.

  • Clean Your Tongue

Use a tongue cleaner to clean your tongue, or use a toothbrush with soft bristles. Clean in a back-to-front motion. Tongue cleaning is significant for smokers or people who have deep grooves in their tongues.

How To Brush Your Teeth

Brushing teeth may seem like a no-brainer, but many people do it wrong. Brush your teeth using a regular toothbrush with nylon bristles. The brushing time should be approximately two minutes. To know how long two minutes feel like, time yourself until you can brush for two minutes without a timer.

  • Floss before you brush your teeth

  • Wet your brush with a bit of water and squeeze a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on the brush

  • At a 45-degree angle, insert the toothbrush into your mouth and brush using short but gentle strokes to brush the front teeth

  • Brush the outside of all the teeth, ensuring you brush the upper and lower back molars

  • Flip the brush to face upwards and start brushing the inside of your front teeth, then flip it again to brush the inside of the bottom front

  • Ensure you brush the tongue to get rid of plaque or bacteria

  • Spit out the saliva and toothpaste, then spit into the sink. You are recommended not to rinse out your mouth after brushing as it washes away and dilutes the fluoride in the toothpaste

  • Please do not use mouthwash immediately after, or it will also remove the fluoride from the toothpaste. This applies even if the mouthwash has fluoride. Use the mouthwash at a different time, such as during lunchtime. After using a fluoride mouthwash, refrain from eating for about half an hour.

Type of Toothpaste You Should Use

It would help if you used a toothpaste that has a good fluoride concentration. You can tell by checking the toothpaste’s packaging for this information. The ideal toothpaste for an adult is one with 1350 ppm (parts per million). For children, toothpaste with 1350- 1500ppm is okay to use.

Children under six should use less potent toothpaste, but it should be 1000 ppm. Any child under three needs only a tiny amount of toothpaste. If need be, your dentist may recommend the use of toothpaste with a higher fluoride concentration for both children and adults. However, all children below seven need to brush their teeth with supervision.

For older adults who may have issues with arthritis or other problems and cannot grip a toothbrush properly, they can:

  • Use a battery or electric-operated toothbrush

  • Use a toothbrush with a wider handle

  • Attach the handle of the toothbrush to the hand using an elastic band

How to Use Dental Floss

Flossing helps to dislodge any food particles between the teeth. Regular flossing reduces bad breath and gum disease by getting rid of plaque along your gum line. Flossing is best done before brushing.

  • Tear off 12 to 18 inches of dental tape or floss and grasp it in such a way that you have a few inches of taut floss or tape between your hands.

  • Slip the tape or floss between your teeth. Slip it also into the spaces between your gum and teeth as far as you can

  • Floss up and down and use at least eight to ten strokes per tooth to ensure you dislodge all plaque and food debris.

  • If you have problems with your hands and cannot floss with ease, use a floss holder

An alternative to flossing is single tufted or interdental brushes, especially for people with teeth gaps. The brush should be a snug fit between your teeth. Avoid using toothpicks to remove food between your teeth to avoid damaging your gums or causing an infection.

If you use dentures, you should keep them clean and avoid foods that can cause bad breath or stain them. Steer away from foods like potato chips or nuts that can get stuck under the dentures and injure the gums. You should ensure you brush the dentures every day using denture-specific products and soak them every night in a denture cleansing liquid. Never sleep with the dentures on to prevent your gums from swelling.

Natural Oral Care Methods

Your teeth are your greatest asset, and bad teeth cause anxiety and low self-esteem. To take care of your teeth naturally, you can try some natural methods.

  • Floss Naturally

The importance of flossing cannot be over-emphasized. When buying floss, go for natural and unwaxed floss. Waxed floss is coated using a byproduct of petroleum. When buying floss, check to see if it’s a cruelty-free product that tells you no animals were used in its production.

  • Oil Pulling Technique

Oil pulling is a centuries-old remedy from India, claimed to freshen your breath, whiten your teeth, and improve overall oral health. It involves swishing a tablespoon of oil in your mouth for about 20 minutes. The best oil to use is extra-virgin olive oil, which has fatty acids with large quantities of lauric acid, containing antimicrobial properties. The other alternatives are sesame and coconut oil which have antibacterial properties that take care of your teeth and gums.

  • Avoid Stains

Avoid foods and beverages that are potential teeth stainers or brush after eating or drinking. If you indulge in a glass of red wine or coffee, brush immediately afterward. Alternatively, drink water in between drinks to keep off the stains. You may also consider using straws to sip the staining drinks such as cranberry or grape juice. Other stains include tomato sauce, soda, beetroots, and cigarette smoke.

  • Scrape Your Tongue

Buy a stainless-steel tongue scraper that is easy to clean. The tongue scraping technique reduces the growth of bad-breath bacteria on your tongue. The removal of these bacteria benefits you as it minimizes the chances of gum disease, tooth decay, and subsequent loss. This mucus on the tongue prevents you from enjoying the authentic taste of food.

Tongue scrape first thing when you wake up by placing the tongue scraper at the back of the tongue and scrape towards the front. Repeat this two times.

If you notice you have bad breath even after you floss and brush, it could indicate an underlying condition. A dentist’s visit every six months ensures everything is okay with your oral health.

Find a Dental Care Specialist Near Me

While it is advisable to observe dental care basics, you might still get dental issues that require a visit to a dentist. If you need dental services in Tarzana, CA, we advise you to get in touch with Tarzana Dental Care at 818-708-3232. Get in touch with us as soon as possible.