Everyone can benefit from fluoride, not just children. Fluoride strengthens
developing teeth in children and helps prevent decay in adults and children.
Toothpastes are good sources of fluoride. Your dentist can prescribe stronger
concentrations of fluoride through gels or rinses if you need it.
Brush and floss to remove plaque
Everyone should brush and floss at least once a day, preferably twice or
after every meal. These activities remove plaque, which is a complex mass of
bacteria that constantly forms on your teeth. If plaque isn’t removed every day,
it can combine with sugars to form acids that lead to decay. Bacterial plaque
also causes gingivitis and other periodontal diseases. It’s important to brush
and floss correctly and thoroughly. Otherwise, some plaque may remain.
Every time you eat, particles of food become lodged in and around your
teeth, providing fuel for bacteria. The more often you eat and the longer food
stays in your mouth, the more time bacteria have to break down sugars and
produce acids that begin the decaying process. Each time you eat food containing sugars or starches (complex sugars), your teeth are exposed to bacterial
acids for 20 minutes or more. If you must snack, brush your teeth or chew sugarless gum afterward. A balanced diet is also important. Deficiencies in minerals and vitamins can also affect your oral health, as well as your general health.
If you use tobacco in any form, quit
Smoking or using smokeless tobacco increases your risk for oral cancer,
gingivitis, periodontitis and tooth decay. It also contributes to bad breath and
stains on your teeth.
Examine your mouth regularly
Even if you visit your dentist regularly, you are in the best position to
notice changes in your mouth. Your dentist sees you only a few times a year,
but you can examine your mouth weekly to look for changes that might be of
concern. These changes could include swollen gums, chipped teeth, discolored
teeth or sores or lesions on your gums, cheeks or tongue. A regular examination is particularly important for tobacco users, who are at increased risk of
developing oral cancer. If you smoke or use smokeless tobacco, your dentist
or dental hygienist can show you where lesions are most likely to appear.
Visit the dental office regularly
You and your dentist should talk about the frequency of your visits. Some
people need to visit a dentist more frequently than others. A