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Oral Health

Great Smiles Don't Happen by Accident

Five Healthy Habits for Oral Care

From young children just learning to care for their teeth to older patients with a lifetime of experience with brushing and flossing, good dental health requires daily attention. And although we always look forward to seeing our patients twice a year for cleanings and check-ups, that’s just one small part of the equation. Here are some important tips to keep your teeth looking their best.

#1 Brush After Every Meal

This one should come as no surprise! When food particles stay on your teeth for a long period of time, plaque begins to form—which makes a perfect hiding place for bacteria. Although plaque can be brushed away at first, it gradually becomes stickier and more difficult to remove. Brushing after every meal removes tiny bits of food and also stimulates saliva production to break down nutrients. If you can't brush after each meal, we recommend at least rinsing your mouth throughly with water to help release some of the food particles.

#2 Floss Once a Day

Even if you brush after every meal, you still need to floss—preferably at night. Brushing cannot reach between the teeth, so flossing at the end of the day helps reach hidden food particles and interrupt bacteria growth. The bacteria in our mouths, if left alone, can cause tooth decay and periodontal disease over the long term. Flossing not only keeps these active bacteria in check; it also stimulates gum tissue to help keep gums healthy.

#3 Use Your Teeth Only as Teeth!

Biting your fingernails, opening packages and popping soda caps are best left to instruments like clippers, scissors and bottle openers. Habits like these can damage tooth enamel and irritate gums.

#4 Go Easy on Certain Foods

Excessive consumption of acidic foods like lemon or lime juice can be hard on tooth enamel. So can crunching on ice, hard candy or tough-to-crack snacks (like CornNuts). Sugary drinks and snacks can also cause problems. We recommend drinking plenty of water and eating smile-friendly snacks like apples and carrots.

#5 Visit Your Dentist at Least Every Six Months

We can’t emphasize it enough—getting a regular dental exam and teeth cleaning at least twice a year is essential for anyone with teeth! A dental exam is a preventative screening that allows us to check for problems related to tooth decay, periodontal disease, oral cancer, blood pressure, TMJ (jaw grinding or clenching), snoring or any signs that could indicate a problem in another area of your body. If you have a history of periodontal issues, your hygienist may recommend visits every three to four months.

Oral Care Q&A

Dental Milestones by Age

Although There Are Exceptions, The Following Milestones Are Typical:

  • 5 Months: Baby teeth begin to come in
  • Ages 2–3: All baby teeth have erupted (become visible in the mouth)
  • Ages 5–8: Bottom and top front baby teeth begin to loosen and fall out
  • Ages 5–8: First molars begin erupting
  • Age 14: All permanent teeth (except wisdom teeth) have typically come in
  • Ages 17–23: Wisdom teeth appear

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