Teeth 101

What is basic dental care?

Basic dental care involves brushing and flossing your teeth regularly, seeing your dentist and/or dental hy-gienist for regular checkups and cleanings, and eating a mouth healthy diet, which means foods high in whole grains, vegetables and fruits, and dairy products.

Why is basic dental care important?

Practicing basic dental care:

  • Prevents tooth decay.
  • Prevents gum (periodontal) disease, which can damage gum tissue and the bones that support teeth, and in the long lead to the loss of teeth.
  • Shortens time with the dentist and dental hygienist, and makes the trip more pleasant.
  • Saves money. By preventing tooth decay and gum disease, you can reduce the need for fillings and other costly procedures.
  • Helps prevent bad breath. Brushing and flossing rid your mouth of the bacteria that cause bad breath.
  • Helps keep teeth white by preventing staining from food, drinks, and tobacco.
  • Improves overall health.
  • Makes it possible for your teeth to last a lifetime.

Are there ways to avoid dental problems?

  • Keeping your teeth and gums healthy requires good nutrition and regular brushing and flossing.
  • Brush your teeth twice a day in the morning and before bed and floss once a day. This removes plaque, which can aged teeth, gums, and surrounding bone.
  • Use a toothpaste that contains fluoride, which helps prevent tooth decay and cavities. Ask your dentist if you need a that contains fluoride or one with ingredients that fight plaque. Look for toothpastes that have been approved by the Dental Association.
  • Avoid foods that contain a lot of sugar. Sugar helps plaque grow.
  • Avoid using tobacco products, which can cause gum disease and oral cancer. Exposure to tobacco smoke (secondhand also may cause gum disease, as well as other health problems.
  • Practice tongue cleaning. You can use a tongue cleaner or a soft bristle toothbrush, stroking in a back-to-front direction. cleaning is particularly important for people who smoke or whose tongues are coated or deeply grooved.
  • Schedule regular trips to the dentist based on how often you need exams and cleaning.

When should my child start seeing a dentist?

By the time your child is 6 months of age, your doctor should assess the likelihood of your child having fu-ture dental problems.2 If he or she thinks your child will have dental problems, be sure your child sees a dentist before his or her first birthday or 6 months after the first primary teeth appear, whichever comes first. After your first visit, schedule regular visits every 6 months or as your dentist recommends.

Experts recommend that your child’s dental care start at 12 months of age.2 If your baby has dental problems caused by injury, disease, or a developmental problem, see your pediatric dentist right away.