Preventive dental care – how to keep your teeth healthy
No one really enjoys going to the dentist, but it’s easy to avoid tooth decay and periodontitis if you take care of your teeth.
Three factors are particularly important for good dental health: diet, oral hygiene – and regular dental check-ups.
Healthy diet for teeth
Tooth decay, and the resulting holes in the tooth enamel, are not inevitable. Simply cutting down on sugar – both in drinks or sweet treats – is a great help. Giving up sweet treats entirely is not necessary for good dental health. Eating a dessert after your main meal isn’t a problem for your enamel – but eating lots of small portions of sugar throughout the day certainly is. That’s why any snacks you eat between meals should be sugar-free. It’s also why milk bottles for young children should be used for drinking and not as a comforter – and these bottles shouldn’t be filled with juice or other sugary drinks. Especially not at night, because we produce less saliva while we’re sleeping to neutralise the acids that build up.
And remember: it’s not just the usual suspects such as cola, lemonade or squash that are bad for our teeth – fruit and salad dressings also contain acids that can attack tooth enamel.
Correct dental care
Cleaning your teeth not only removes food residues, but also plaque. Plaque is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, which can cause decay. You can get to grips with this by using dental floss, interdental toothbrushes, sugar-free chewing gum, mouthwash and toothpicks. The best method, of course, is to use a toothbrush, preferably three times a day. You should spit out toothpaste after brushing, but don’t rinse your mouth as otherwise the fluoride won’t take effect.
Annual dental check-up
It’s a good idea to go to the dentist once a year in order to pick up on any damage in good time. It’s mainly caused by decay or periodontitis. If you go regularly to the dentist, any action required can be taken in good time and recommendations can be made for dental care or preventive measures, such as sealing the teeth.
Periodontitis is an inflammation of the periodontium. Around one in five people between the age of 35 and 44 were affected by periodontitis in 2010, increasing to 40% of people aged between 65 and 74. It is most often caused by bacteria accumulating on the dental plaque and can lead to tooth loss if left untreated. It can be prevented by looking after your teeth and going to the dental hygienist regularly.
Tooth decay (caries)
Tooth decay, i.e. a hole in the tooth enamel is widespread among children today. Tooth decay is found in 13% of two-year-olds and in up to 50% of seven-year-olds. However, there is good news: Between 1964 and 1996, the incidence of tooth decay among school children fell by 90%. Good oral hygiene including fluoride toothpaste as well as eating less sugar and acidic food protects the teeth.