When faced with completing a “less than desirable” task, many people say, “well, it’s better than a root canal.”
As dentists we find this phrase a little sad since we like to pride ourselves on our dental work and know that a root canal can be done without discomfort. However, we also understand that keeping your mouth open for hours at a time to have work done can be both nerve wracking and expensive, no matter the procedure.
Life is a series of tradeoffs that all have natural consequences. In this piece we will take a light-hearted look at if you do or don’t do something that relates to oral health, then what consequences can occur? Take a look, and then tell us, can you think of any we forgot?
If you brush your teeth twice a day
Then you will remove plaque, but…
The American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste for two minutes each time. Two minutes twice a day should be an incredibly easy goal to meet, but after a long day or if you are in a rush in the morning, sometimes those two minutes can seem to drag on forever. For perspective, here are other things that can be in two minutes:
- Write a thank you note
- Do 20 pushups
- Open all your mail and throw away what you don’t need
- Make your bed
- Change out the toilet paper or a light bulb
Just like making your bed or throwing out your mail, brushing your teeth is something that must be done each morning and night. Brushing your teeth helps to remove food and plaque—the sticky white film that forms on your teeth and contains bacteria. However, to add another level of protection it is important to brush your teeth more often than just the bare minimum recommendation.
Certain foods and drinks, especially those high in carbohydrates and sugars, spur the creation of certain bacteria in your mouth that attack your tooth enamel for at least twenty minutes after you eat a meal or have a snack. By brushing right after you eat, you will get rid of bacteria before they attack your tooth enamel. The Mayo Clinic recommends more frequent brushing if you have eaten something that could be damaging to your teeth.
If you have dental insurance
Then you should use it and visit your dentist biannually!
If you are enrolled in a traditional dental insurance benefit where you pay monthly or bi-monthly premiums, but don’t visit the dentist to recoup those costs, you are wasting money monthly!
While each dental insurance benefit is different, many times preventive care (such as your bi-annual cleaning) have very low out-of-pocket costs for the beneficiary. While you don’t pay on your way out the door, you are paying for that service with the premiums that will be reimbursed to the dentist by your insurer. The end of the year will be here before you know it, so give us a call today to schedule your appointment!
If you don’t use fluoride
Then you are not doing everything possible to prevent cavities
The market has been flooded with “natural” toothpastes that rely on many ingredients, but not fluoride. Many people choose these natural toothpastes thinking that they are choosing the healthies option on the market. Unfortunately, health experts caution that choosing a product without fluoride will actually leave you at a higher risk for developing cavities.
The idea that brushing teeth alone will not stop cavities has largely been accepted among individual researchers for decades, but not always by the public. Dentists generally recommend fluoride for cavity fighting.
The recommendation to use a fluoride-based toothpaste applies to all members of the family. The American Academy of Pediatrics has realized the benefits of fluoride and officially recommends choosing a toothpaste for children that contains fluoride. It is recommended to choose a fluorinated toothpaste for children as soon as they get their first tooth. Since children this young lack the ability to spit out excess, it is important to only use a rice grain sized amount on the toothbrush. This will allow for distribution on the teeth and begin forming the cavity-fighting layers. Fluoride toothpastes has been shown to reduce cavities in kids from 15 to 30 percent!
If you suffer from diabetes or other chronic illnesses
Then you may see an impact of the disease on your oral cavity
Even if your diabetes is well managed, effects of the disease can still take a toll on your body. It is important to remain diligent about looking out for the signs of the disease, especially as it relates to your oral health. Those with diabetes are at an increased risk for periodontal disease. This infection in the gums and bone can lead to difficulty chewing and tooth loss.
Diabetes can also cause dry mouth. Less salvia in the mouth leads to an increase in the likelihood of developing cavities. Saliva acts as a barrier on your teeth by preventing bad bacteria from working its way into the crevices of your teeth. In addition to diabetes causing side-effects that can impact oral health, medications can cause problems as well. Work with both your doctor and dentist to ensure any negative side effect—including dry mouth—are addressed to protect your teeth and gums.
If you have a dental emergency outside of normal business hours
Then you should evaluate your symptoms and, when in doubt, always call!
There are several symptoms that can indicate an immediate need to get in to see a dental professional.
For example, if you are experiencing uncontrollable bleedings, a knocked out tooth, injured jaw or extreme pain from a toothache it is advised your see a dentist soon.
However, for more minor issues, you may be able to wait until our office opens or until a good time for your schedule. If you are experiencing swelling create a saltwater mouthwash to help alleviate pain. Salt water cleanses the area and draws out some of the fluid that causes swelling.
In addition, use a cold compress to help relieve swelling and numb the affected area.
Also, try flossing around the tooth experiencing pain to help dislodge any food particles that could be leading to the discomfort.
Finally, consider taking an over-the-counter pain medicine to help relieve the pain. If you are bleeding, steer clear of products that contain aspirin since it things the blood and can make treatment more difficult.