Basics for Healthy Teeth

We’ve all heard the basic dental health mantra of brush twice a day, avoid sweets and see your dentist regularly. This is all good basic preventive advise, but for some reason it seems the best kept secret in dentistry is the detail behind the recommendation. Let’s expand on the idea and see if a more effective understanding of how to prevent dental disease results.

Two primary problems comprise the vast majority of dental disease. They include tooth decay and periodontal disease. Both are caused by bacteria that live in your mouth and feed on the same things you do. To visualize the concept, look at the following simple equation:

Tooth Decay

The expert mathematician will confirm that when you multiply by small numbers, you get small numbers and when you multiply by zero you get zero. So your goal is to make all these factors as close to zero as is practical.

Begin with the teeth. If you have no teeth, you will never again experience tooth decay. You must agree that is very simple and extremely effective. The problem is that we would like to keep teeth so it’s impractical to take them all out. You can make teeth more resistant to decay by using fluoride that makes them less likely to dissolve in acid. Fluoride toothpaste, mouthwash, or treatments at your dental office all help.

Sugar is the next factor and one that we can have a great effect on. If we reduce our intake of sugar to zero, we will experience no decay. We should not totally eliminate sugar since our body needs some to function well, but we can reduce the amount and we can also reduce the frequency we have sugar. Every time we take a drink or bite of something with sugar in it, the bacteria digest it and make acid for about half an hour. Three meals a day will make an hour and a half of disease causing bacteria action. If we put sugar in our coffee in the morning and then sip it over a couple hours, you can see how we add to that time quite a bit. Also if we add a soda in the afternoon that we sip on over a couple hours we again greatly add to the disease making time. These in between meal snacks and drinks are often the cause of great amounts of disease and general mayhem that goes on in your mouth. If you don’t constantly feed the bugs in your mouth, they can’t make decay. (And it won’t hurt your waistline either.)

Finally, we must address the bugs themselves. These bacteria are experts at protecting their happy home by making a nice glue to hold themselves to your teeth around the gum line and in between.  This glue is called plaque.  Only physical movement using a brush or floss will dislodge them and you need to do that twice a day to effectively reduce the bacteria in your mouth to a minimum.

The combination of good brushing and homecare habits, reduced frequency of sugar in your diet, and using fluoride on your teeth in various ways will never fail to keep your teeth healthy and protect your wallet.