Avoiding Toothaches and Other Dental Mishaps
The term ‘dental emergency’ means different things to different people, but regardless of what particular issues we place into that category, the bottom line is that they are generally uncomfortable, inconvenient, and expensive. As with most of life’s problems, the best solution is to prevent them from occurring in the first place. Here are some tips on preventing toothaches and other dental emergencies.
Proper Dental Hygiene
Most of us learned in elementary school that the first step to maintaining dental health is keeping our teeth clean, and that the first and biggest steps toward good oral hygiene start at home. The most fundamental of these steps of course is brushing. It’s always a good idea to consult your dentist for advice on the equipment and techniques that will work best for you specifically.
Generally speaking, however, it’s a good idea to start with a soft bristle, nylon toothbrush and some fluoride toothpaste. Focus the bristles on the gum line at a 45 degree angle, and brush gently in an overlapping oval pattern while slightly rotating the head of the brush so as to work the crevices between your teeth and at the gum line. It’s important to cover the front, back and top of all your teeth, so angle the brush accordingly. Brushing thoroughly two or three times per day is usually far more effective than brushing hastily four to six times per day.
Don’t forget to scrub the tongue and rinse with a mouthwash that your dentist recommends. Rinsing with clean water after snacking is a solid practice as well.
Equally important to the practice of regular brushing is that of having a disciplined flossing regimen. Flossing once per day thoroughly between all of your teeth should be sufficient in terms of maintenance hygiene. The floss should hug the side of the tooth; gently rub the tooth from the top to the base, gently pushing below the gum line. Repeat two or three times on each side. Also, it’s definitely a good idea to keep floss on your person for the purpose of dislodging food when necessary.
As with any other part of the human body, proper nutrition is essential to ensuring proper tooth development. There are many foods that are beneficial not only in the vitamins and minerals that they provide, but also in the way that they interact with the complex environment that is your mouth.
Cheeses are one of the best food for your teeth, as the protein and calcium they contain are imperative to grow and maintain healthy tooth structure. In addition, the calcium-rich residue left behind by most cheeses temporarily bonds to the plaque in your mouth to protect enamel and neutralize the acids that cause tooth decay.
Raw, crisp fruits and vegetables are beneficial because the texture helps to brush away other food remnants in addition to being a great source of vitamin C, folic acid, and antioxidants, which are all key nutritional components to your oral wellbeing. Fresh cranberries in particular have recently been found to contain properties that inhibit harmful bacteria from bonding to the surface of your teeth.
Limiting consumption of foods that can be harmful to your teeth is just as important as seeking out the right foods. It’s well known that sugar nourishes bacteria in your mouth, which in turn produces acid as a waste product. This acid is what causes cavities and tooth decay. Simple starches like bread also break down into sugars very quickly when mixed with the digestive enzymes in your saliva.
From a dental standpoint, the frequency with which you consume sugar is far more important than the total amount of sugar consumed. If you are someone who has sugary snacks or soda throughout the day, it’s going to be very hard to keep up with the acid buildup using regular hygiene measures.
Use Your Teeth as They Were Intended to be Used
Our teeth are not Swiss Army Knives, but many of us use them as such. If you sit and watch people long enough in a busy airport, you will see human teeth used as scissors, nail clippers, and, in typically bizarre instances, even weapons. Everyone is different, and some teeth will withstand more punishment than others, but it is universally true that using your mouth as a utility tool will significantly decrease the expected lifespan of your teeth.
Guard Against Trauma
Even the most healthy mouth full of pearly whites is vulnerable to the forces of friction and kinetic energy. Many sports and other physical activities pose inherent risk not only to the individual teeth, but also to the jaw bone and the soft tissue in your mouth. A properly fitted mouthguard not only offers oral protection, it also substantially reduces the risk of concussion.
A basketball player who also happens to be a teeth grinder quite possibly puts their teeth at greater risk of physical damage when they go to bed at night than when they step onto the court. Nightguards also provide health benefits on numerous levels; they are used to treat snoring and sleep apnea as well as nocturnal teeth grinding.