In order to maintain a healthy smile, it is vital to have professional cleanings and regular check-ups. Therefore, you should visit your general dentist twice a year (once every six months). At each appointment, your dentist will examine your teeth and provide an evaluation of existing dental problems and proposed treatment.
Tooth decay is a progressive disease resulting from the interaction of bacteria that naturally occur in your mouth and the sugars consumed in your diet. Sugar causes a reaction in the bacteria, which causes the bacteria to produce acids. These acids break down the minerals in teeth, forming a cavity. Dentists can remove the decay and fill the tooth using a variety of fillings or cover the tooth with a crown. Avoiding unnecessary decay simply requires strict adherence to a dental hygiene regimen: brushing and flossing twice a day, regular dental check-ups, diet control and fluoride treatment.
The teeth, bones and soft tissues of the mouth require a healthy, well-balanced diet. A variety of foods from the five food groups help minimize and avoid cavities and other dental problems. Consuming sugary and starchy foods should be limited, including candies, cookies, chips and crackers. Healthier foods, such as vegetables, low-fat yogurt and cheeses, help promote stronger teeth.
The grooves that form the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (molars) are extremely difficult to clean of bacteria and food. As the bacteria react with the food, acids form and break down the tooth enamel, causing cavities. Tooth sealants can protect these areas by sealing the grooves, preventing bacteria and food particles from accumulating. The sealants are made of a resin material that is applied to the back teeth, molars, premolars and any area prone to cavities. Sealants last for several years but needs to be checked during regular appointments.
Fluoride is a substance that helps teeth become stronger and resistant to decay. Regularly drinking fluoridated water and daily brushing and flossing ensures significantly fewer cavities. Many, if not most, public water sources contain fluoridated water. Your dentist can evaluate the level of fluoride in your primary drinking water source and recommend fluoride supplements if necessary. There are also many kinds of toothpastes, mouthwashes and even some dental flosses that contain fluoride.