Basic Dental Care - Overview
Is this topic for you?
This topic provides information on basic dental care.
If you are looking for information on tooth decay or cavities, see the topic
Tooth Decay. If you are looking for information on gum
disease (periodontal disease), see the topic
Basic dental care
involves brushing and flossing your teeth regularly, seeing your dentist and/or
dental hygienist for regular checkups and cleanings,
and eating a mouth-healthy diet, which means foods high in whole grains,
vegetables and fruits, and dairy products.
Why is basic dental care important?
basic dental care:
gum (periodontal) disease , which can damage gum tissue and the
bones that support
teeth , and in the long term can lead to the loss of
- Shortens time with the dentist and dental hygienist, and
makes the trip more pleasant.
- Saves money. By preventing tooth
decay and gum disease, you can reduce the need for
fillings and other costly
- Helps prevent bad breath. Brushing and flossing rid
your mouth of the bacteria that cause bad breath.
- Helps keep teeth
white by preventing staining from food, drinks, and tobacco.
- Improves overall health.
- Makes it possible for your
teeth to last a lifetime.
Are there ways to avoid dental problems?
your teeth and gums healthy requires good nutrition and regular brushing and
- Brush your teeth twice a day-in the morning and before bed-and
floss once a day. This removes
plaque, which can lead to damaged teeth, gums, and
- Use a toothpaste that contains
fluoride, which helps prevent tooth decay and
cavities. Ask your dentist if you need a mouthwash
that contains fluoride or one with ingredients that fight plaque. Look for
toothpastes that have been approved by the American Dental Association.
- Avoid foods that contain a lot of sugar. Sugar helps
- Avoid using tobacco products, which can cause gum
oral cancer. Exposure to tobacco smoke (secondhand
smoke) also may cause gum disease as well as other health problems.1
- Practice tongue cleaning. You can use a tongue
cleaner or a soft-bristle toothbrush, stroking in a back-to-front direction.
Tongue cleaning is particularly important for people who smoke or whose tongues
are coated or deeply grooved.
- Schedule regular trips to the dentist
based on how often you need exams and cleaning.
When should my child start seeing a dentist?
By the time your child is 6 months of
age, your doctor should assess the likelihood of your child having future
dental problems. If he or she thinks your child will have dental problems, be
sure your child sees a dentist before his or her first birthday or 6 months
after the first
primary teeth appear , whichever comes first. After your first visit, schedule
regular visits every 6 months or as your dentist recommends.
Experts recommend that your child's dental care start at 12 months of
age. If your baby has dental problems caused by injury, disease, or a
developmental problem, see your pediatric dentist right away.
Frequently Asked Questions