By Dr. Sheila Strock
As we begin a new year, many of us renew our focus on our health. Keeping your teeth for as long as you live is an excellent goal for long-term health. Start the New Year by taking good care of your teeth!
Understanding the threats to our teeth is crucial to keeping them healthy. The primary culprits for tooth loss are decay (cavities) and periodontal disease. Tooth decay is the gradual breakdown of the tooth’s enamel. Periodontal disease attacks the gum tissue, ligaments, and bone that support the teeth.
Both of these conditions are the result of growth of bacteria in the mouth. The number of microbes living in your mouth right now exceeds the number of people living on Earth. Although most of these microbes are harmless— and some are even helpful—some of these bacteria are responsible for tooth decay.
Decay-causing bacteria mix with saliva to make a film that sticks to the surface of your teeth. This film is called plaque. The bacteria living inside plaque eat sugar from food residue in the mouth. They excrete lactic acid, which becomes part of the plaque. If plaque isn’t removed, the acid dissolves the tooth’s enamel.
The best way to remove decay-causing plaque is by brushing and cleaning between your teeth every day. Brushing removes plaque from the tooth surfaces.
These easy tips will help you maintain a healthy smile:
- Brush your teeth for two minutes twice per day with a soft-bristled brush and a fluoride toothpaste.
- Replace your toothbrush every three-four months, or sooner if the bristles are frayed.
- Be sure to also brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen your breath.
- And, if you have not had a dental exam and cleaning in more than 6 months, schedule yours today!
Dr. Sheila Strock, DMD, MPH
Dr. Strock has more than 35 years of clinical dentistry experience in several states across the U.S., serving patients in all stages – and from all walks – of life. In addition to network management, she provides strategic direction and analytic assessments as related to clinical policy, compliance and utilization at Delta Dental of Minnesota.