Dr Darryl Marsh writes… In this blog entry I talk about three key ingredients to keep your teeth healthy for your entire lifetime.
How to avoid dental problems and keep your teeth for life
What is the recipe for lifetime dental health?
Keeping your teeth and keeping them healthy for your entire life is not as complicated as people make out. Good dental care is really a simple recipe – with only three key ingredients.
Lifetime healthy teeth solution #1: Treat dental problems immediately
Get treatment for the cavities, infections and dental problems that are already present, as soon as you become aware of them. Leaving problems to fester and progress will never make things better.
Cavities are more easily treated when they are small. If left too long, the cavity will inevitably progress to an abscess. The filling that would have treated the cavity, will not fix the abscess. Treatment becomes more costly and possibly more radical, such as taking teeth out rather than saving them, or root canals rather than fillings.
“Unlike fine wine, dental problems do not improve with age!”
Gum infections spread deeper and eat away at the jawbone that holds your teeth in. This bone, once eroded will never grow back – leaving your teeth unsupported and mobile. What could have been treated with a routine cleaning now requires gum and bone surgery, or even extractions.
Lifetime healthy teeth solution #2: Eat healthy for your teeth
When talking about healthy eating habits for our body, experts commonly suggest a balanced diet – rich in lean meats, fruits and vegetables with several small meals each day rather than the three big meals, which our parents and grandparents recommended.
Whilst a balanced diet is good for your body’s general health, the manner in which food is eaten during the day can have a big influence on whether your teeth develop problems or not.
When we eat, the bacteria in the plaque on our teeth and in the mouth use the food particles to produce acids, which then eat away at the teeth. Compounds present in saliva act to neutralise these acids and minerals in saliva then act to repair the damage done by the acid attack after eating. It commonly takes ninety minutes to two hours to neutralise an acid attack after eating.
Drink healthy for your teeth too!
Researchers have shown that eating or drinking anything other than water on more than five different occasions each day lessens the time for saliva to neutralise the acids between each acid attack – and may not be adequate. This means that the teeth may be under acid attack for most of the day and this will inevitably lead to enamel damage, decay and tooth loss.
Lifetime healthy teeth solution #3: Regular 6 month dental check-up and clean
If you want to keep your teeth for life, being reactive and waiting for dental problems to manifest before seeking professional help just won’t do it.
Good health for your teeth and gums, just like any other body system requires being proactive, not reactive. You never hear cardiologists recommend their patients waiting for their arteries to clog to the point where you have a heart attack and then having surgery to have the diseased arteries ‘bypassed’. Common sense would say this approach is obviously inferior to a program of regular exercise and a healthy diet.
It’s the same with teeth. Waiting for teeth to abscess and having root canals does not make sense compared to regular six month visits, yet only half of the population have a regular dentist and not even all of those have regular check-ups every six months. Common sense just doesn’t seem to be that common.