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 Six Steps Towards Dental Health 
 
The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Integrative Dentistry by . View all columns in series
Modern dental technology has reached a point where saving a tooth is very possible, no matter the condition of that tooth. There are dentists available virtually on every corner with full-page advertisements in the newspapers, yellow pages and even bus benches beckoning the consumer to pay them a visit. There are dental insurances, payment plans at dental offices and dental schools offering low cost dentistry, yet statistics indicate many people are still not making the routine six month visits to their dentist. Whether it's due to lack of insurance, fear or other reasons, many individuals wait until there is pain, before making a dental appointment.

Prevention is not a hard concept to understand and carry out, once you know the consequences of disease. Preventing disease in the mouth follows the same path as preventing disease in any other organ in the body. With the mouth it’s even simpler since you can see inside the mouth. It is much simpler to detect and treat illness at the early stages than waiting until it has advanced.

Routine 3-6 month visit (depending on health of your mouth), along with 5 other steps are the means of saving all of the teeth all your life. Just practice the steps listed below on a daily basis and you will always have a beautiful smile:

6 Steps Towards Dental Health:

  1. Brush two times a day very thoroughly. Brush the gums as well as the teeth. Most people brush very quickly leaving plaque on many areas of the teeth and gums. Plaque adheres to all surfaces of the gums and teeth, unless thoroughly cleaned, will not come off. After 24-36 hours the plaque hardens and becomes tartar. Tartar cannot be removed with brushing or flossing, but must be removed mechanically by using dental instruments. Tartar can be irritating to the gums and will cause advancement of gum disease. Brushing thoroughly (for at least 3 minutes) will prevent plaque from becoming tartar.
  2. Floss at least once a day, preferably at bedtime. There is a right and wrong way to floss. Proper flossing is a means by which the areas under the gums up to approximately 3 mm are cleaned. Moving the floss straight up and down will not clean under the gums, and may even damage delicate tissues. Each side of each tooth must be cleaned with the aid of floss. There are many types of floss available. Some have handles while others must be wrapped around a finger. There are waxed, un-waxed and a variety of flavored floss available. Un-waxed floss works best with tight contacts, however, this is a personal choice since both will do the job. An easy way to remember to floss is to keep it in the shower and use it while showering.
  3. Clean the tongue (specially the back) two times a day. The tongue harbors many bacteria that contribute to bad breath. Cleaning it with a tongue cleaner or toothbrush should be part of the daily oral hygiene routine.
  4. Limit sweets to mealtime only. Studies show frequent snacking on sweets contributes to more decay than eating sweets at mealtime. Eating a balanced diet high in organic vegetables and mostly fish and foul are best for keeping the oral cavity healthy. Red meat should be kept to a minimum and if eaten, should be from a free range, antibiotic free source.
  5. Instead of drinking sodas, drink more water. Drinking sodas is similar to bathing the teeth with acid. Using a straw will minimize the acid attacks on teeth.
  6. Keep regular 3-6 month dental check up appointments. This is the best way to recognize and treat disease in the mouth before it turns into advanced stages such as root canals or tooth loss.
      
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 About The Author
Flora Stay, DDS holds a doctor of dental surgery degree from University of California, San Francisco. She is the founder of ...moreFlora Stay DDS
 
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