As a family dentist in Salem, OR, our team at Willis Dental remains committed to providing our patients with the best care possible. While it’s easy to think of your oral health as only relating to healthy teeth and gums, studies have found that our oral health can significantly impact our overall health as well.
In recent years, a growing amount of research has found compelling evidence that connects dental disease and decay – like tooth decay and gum disease – with a number of serious long-term illnesses that include cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, and even some forms of cancer.
While researchers continue to explore what creates this mouth/body connection, the data makes it perfectly clear that protecting our long-term health means taking better care of our oral health today.
Fortunately, enjoying a great-looking smile doesn’t require expensive medical procedures, a gym membership, or a willingness to turn down those tasty treats that make life worth living. In fact, to get a great-looking smile, you just need to take three simple steps.
Step 1. Brush Twice a Day
So let’s start with the most important habit you can practice in order to protect your long-term oral health – brushing.
Brushing helps to remove harmful oral bacteria and food particles that linger in the mouth after eating from the surface of your teeth and along the gum line.
Despite what you may have heard growing up, eating sugar doesn’t actually rot your teeth. What does contribute to tooth decay and the formation of cavities is plaque – a sticky biofilm comprised of those pesky food particles and oral bacteria we just mentioned. Plaque transforms the sugars we consume into a corrosive substance that slowly erodes away our tooth enamel.
Plaque builds up on the surface of our teeth constantly. By brushing, we work to remove plaque from the surface of our teeth so that the foods we do eat don’t contribute to breaking down the health of our teeth.
To ensure we successfully prevent plaque buildup, it’s important that we brush at least twice a day – ideally once in the morning and again before bed. And since our teeth contain plenty of hard to clean areas, it’s important that we spend at least two minutes brushing each time. By spending enough time to properly brush the front, back, and sides of our teeth, we can successfully remove plaque and lower our risk of tooth decay.
Step 2. Floss Daily
Despite what you may have recently heard, flossing does actually play an important role in protecting your oral health. While recent news reports have suggested that studies have found no long-term benefit to flossing, many within the oral health community question those findings and caution patients from reading too much into what may validate their decision not to floss at all.
The reason Dr. Willis and the rest of the oral health community still advocates for flossing is the fact that the habit helps to clean areas of your mouth a toothbrush isn’t designed to reach – between your teeth and below your gum line.
By failing to floss before brushing (side note: always floss before brushing – flipping the order would be like vacuuming the couch before eating potato chips), you’re deciding to skip cleaning over 30 percent of your teeth.
Unfortunately, despite the importance of flossing, surveys conducted by the American Dental Association have found that 40 percent of Americans fail to floss daily – with 10 percent not flossing at all. Considering how few people practice this vitally important habit, it isn’t surprising that the most common place for cavities to develop in the mouth is actually between a patient’s teeth.
Not only does flossing help to reduce the risk of cavities, the habit also dramatically improves gum health, thereby reducing our risk of gum disease and tooth loss.
If you have the time to brush your hair, comb your beard, apply makeup, shave, or wash your face, you have the time to floss. By taking just a few minutes a day, you can make a significant impact to your oral and overall health.
Step 3. Visit Your Family Dentist in Salem, OR
Regular exams and cleanings rank as an important part of protecting your oral health. Regular exams provide Dr. Willis the opportunity to spot any signs of dental decay or disease early on while still easily treatable. By treating dental decay before the problem requires a filling to correct, Dr. Willis can reverse the damage and restore a tooth back to health.
Frequent cleanings allow our team of gentle dental hygienists the chance to remove plaque deposits from your teeth and along the gum line. When plaque is allowed to remain on our teeth, it transforms into a hardened yellowish substance known as tartar. Tartar can only be removed during a professional cleaning.
That’s it! By following these three simple steps, you can enjoy better quality oral health now and into the future. If you have any questions about the best practices for protecting the health of your teeth and gums, make sure to ask any member of our staff during your next appointment at Willis Dental.