Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Dental Health - Prevention is the Best Medicine

Dental Health - Prevention is the Best Medicine
By Amy Nutt

It probably comes as no surprise to you that the best way to make sure your teeth are in good shape is to keep them that way right from the start. Even if you´ve had problems with cavities and such in the past, it´s never too late to start taking proper care of your teeth and you can start your kids early with preventative dental care, too.

Babies and Toddlers

Don't wait until those first baby teeth make their appearance. Use a damp rag over your finger to wipe your baby's gums on a regular basis. There are even rubber slip on fingertip cleaners designed specifically for this purpose and nothing apart from a little water is necessary.

Once the first little pearly whites pop through the gums, it's time to switch to a baby toothbrush. Again, use just water, since babies don't need toothpaste and it can actually be harmful if they swallow it on a regular basis. This basic dental care can continue up through the toddler years or until your child is able to spit the toothpaste out, usually around three years. Alternatively, you may look for a toddler toothpaste that doesn't contain fluoride.


By the time your little one is ready to start using toothpaste, you should have a good toothbrushing routine down. Two to three times a day is good, with the brushing session lasting at least 60 seconds, though three minutes is actually the ideal. Setting an egg timer or playing a special song can help kids judge the amount of time to brush.


Many adults find that they are too busy to pay much attention to their teeth, but it is definitely worth making the effort. Regular brushing with fluoride enhanced toothpaste will help keep cavity causing plaque away and reduce your chances of getting sick due to a tooth decay issue. You will also save quite a bit of money by taking proper care of your teeth, which involves regular brushing (2-3 times a day) and flossing (at least once a day).

Despite there being specific dental care instructions for each age group, there are certain things that will help anyone of any age stay on top of their dental health and ensure that problems are stopped before they even begin.

Getting regular dental care is essential in preventing tooth decay and gum disease. Your dentist can tell you if you need to step up your brushing and flossing and can also instruct you in the right way to remove plaque from your teeth. A proper cleaning is a good idea at least once or twice a year, as well.

In addition to regularly flossing and brushing, there are other steps you can take to help prevent tooth problems. Your diet is particularly important. It's a proven fact that certain foods and beverages are more likely to cause tooth decay and stains than others. Coffee, colas and tobacco are all terrible for staining your teeth, while anything with sugar tends to promote bacterial growth and thus tooth decay. Carbs that stick to your teeth (think crackers), are also notorious for causing problems because they convert to sugar with saliva and get wedged into cracks in your molars where a toothbrush may not reach. Mouthwash can help with this.

Your best bet for healthy teeth is to eat a balanced diet and avoid junk food and having too many sweets. When you do give in to the sweet tooth, make sure you brush afterwards. A little prevention goes a long way and with the proper care, your teeth should last a lifetime intact.


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