Over 92% of people have cavities by the time they reach adulthood. More than 120 million Americans have one or more teeth missing due to oral health problems. Millions are toothless. All of these issues never need to happen if more people knew oral hygiene basics for brushing, flossing, eating sugar and visiting the dentist. Having great oral hygiene is easy. Eating well for strong teeth is also easy. Here are some simple oral hygiene tips so you can have a healthy, beautiful smile for life!
What Is Oral Hygiene?
Oral hygiene is how well you take care of your oral health, as in what habits you do to keep your teeth and gums healthy. No matter what age you are, your oral health is extremely important to your overall health. Your medical professional can detect signs of diseases and chronic conditions by looking at the tissues of your mouth. Many diseases or conditions, in turn, will manifest symptoms in the mouth if they are uncontrolled.
The shocking fact is that almost all Americans have oral health diseases and many don’t realize it. 64.7 million Americans have gum disease, and that’s only counting American adults. Tooth decay—what you know by the name of cavities—affects even more people. By age 18, more than 92% of Americans have had one or more teeth decay.
How Tooth Decay Happens
When you eat, some of your mouth bacteria start to break down your food for digestion. Other mouth bacteria mixes with sugar in your food to create plaque. Plaque is a sticky, clear substance that sits on your teeth. You can’t simply wash it down with water either. Because plaque is acidic, it erodes your tooth enamel as it sits on your teeth. Over time, acid wears away tooth enamel, creating dead areas of the tooth and craters. This is tooth decay.
If plaque can get through the first layer of your tooth enamel, it will hit the dentin layer and then the center of the tooth with nerves and soft tissue. When decay reaches that far, it creates infection and tooth pain that worsens without treatment. This is how patients lose teeth or why they would need tooth extractions, root canals, dental implants or more extensive dental procedures to restore their smile.
The key to avoiding dental diseases is to have great oral hygiene and a great diet. Eating the right foods can help prevent plaque production and acid erosion in the first place. Great oral hygiene practices such as brushing and flossing will reduce the amount of plaque you have on your teeth that decays enamel and irritates gum tissue.
What Should You Be Doing?
The best way to prevent oral health diseases is to brush your teeth. We can’t stress this enough! The American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes at a time. That ensures that all your teeth get cleaned properly. Brush with fluoride toothpaste that has the ADA Seal of Acceptance on the label. This means that the toothpaste has been tested and found effective in reducing your risk for tooth decay and gum disease.
Toothbrushes should be discarded about every 3 months, or when the bristles start to become frayed. Use a soft-bristled brush that will be effective for keeping your teeth clean while not being too aggressive on your tooth enamel. Brush your teeth after every meal if you want a better clean, especially if you get cavities often or if you have gum disease.
Floss 1-2 times, using new floss each time. Use about 18 inches of floss, devoting 2-3 inches of floss space for every few teeth. Floss all the way up into your gum line and gently scrape the teeth as you move the floss up or down the length of your teeth. The American Dental Association also recommends seeing a dentist at least twice a year for comprehensive dental exams and dental cleanings. This is a time when dentists detect oral cancers and other oral disease, when they catch tooth decay early and when intervention can be done for emerging gum disease.
How Is the US Following Oral Hygiene Basics?
Unfortunately, Americans are not the best at following oral hygiene basics, which is why tooth decay is the most “prevalent, chronic disease” according to the National Institutes of Health. Gum disease is a close second. A main reason for these diseases is limited access to dental insurance or simply not realizing that dental issues are happening until diseases have already set in.
In the United States, 42% of children 11 and under have cavities. 28% of those 5 and under have cavities and 51% of 6-11 year-olds have cavities. The rate of untreated tooth decay in this age group is between 20% and 24%. As we mentioned, more than 92% have tooth decay by adulthood. Studies show that only 3 out of 10 millennials are brushing their teeth in a day and many will go 2 or more days without brushing their teeth. As a population, only about 65% of people in the U.S. see a dentist each year, and that’s not even the recommended 2 times. It’s not wonder oral health problems are continually on the rise!
That doesn’t have to be you. Follow our few simple tips for brushing and flossing your teeth and make sure you keep up with your biannual dental visits. Your oral hygiene is that easy. Add in some mouthwash or fluoride treatments here and there if you want a cleaner, stronger mouth as well. Still getting cavities? Try limiting your sugar intake! We can answer all of your oral hygiene related questions. Simply call Dr. Evanson’s office today at (720) 409-0008!Leave a reply →