Your Oral Health Care Plan
Good oral health involves more than just brushing. To keep your teeth and mouth healthy for a lifetime of use, there are steps that you should follow. Here's what you should consider:
1. Understand your own oral health needs.
Talk with your dentist, other oral health care specialist, or hygienist about any special conditions in your mouth and any ways in which your medical/health conditions affect your teeth or oral health. For example, cancer treatments, pregnancy, heart diseases, diabetes, dental appliances (dentures, braces) can all impact your oral health and may necessitate a change in the care of your mouth and/or teeth. Be sure to tell your dentist if you have experienced a change in your general health or in any medications you are taking since your last dental visit.
2. Develop, then follow, a daily oral health routine.
Based on discussions with your oral health care provider about health conditions you may have, develop an oral health routine that is easy to follow on a daily basis. For example, people with special conditions, including pregnancy and diabetes, may require additional instruction and perhaps treatments to keep their mouth healthy. Make sure you understand the additional care and/or treatment that is needed, commit to the extra tasks, and work them into your daily health routine.
3. Use fluoride.
Children and adults benefit from fluoride use. Fluoride strengthens developing teeth in children and prevents tooth decay in both children and adults. Toothpastes and mouth rinses contain fluoride. Fluoride levels in tap water may not be high enough without supplementation to prevent tooth decay. Contact your water utility to determine the level for your area. Talk with your dentist about your fluoride needs. Ask if fluoride supplements or a higher strength, prescription fluoride product is necessary for you.
4. Brush and floss daily.
Brush your teeth at least twice a day (morning and before bed time) and floss at least once a day. Better still, brush after every meal and snack. These activities remove plaque, which if not removed, combines with sugars to form acids that lead to tooth decay. Bacterial plaque also causes gum disease and other periodontal diseases.
Antibacterial mouth rinse can reduce bacteria that cause plaque and gum disease, and fluoride mouth rinse can help prevent tooth decay, according to the American Dental Association.
5. Eat a balanced diet and limit snacking.
Eat a variety of foods, but eat fewer foods that contain sugars and starches (for example, cookies, cakes, pies, candies, ice cream, dried fruits and raisins, soft drinks, potato chips). These foods produce the most acids in the mouth, which begin the decay process. If you must snack, brush your teeth afterward or chew sugarless gum.