Basic Dental Care
What is basic dental care?
Basic dental care involves brushing and flossing your teeth regularly, seeing your Reference dentist Opens New Window and/or Reference dental hygienist Opens New Window for regular checkups and cleanings, and eating a mouth-healthy diet, which means foods high in whole grains, vegetables and fruits, and dairy products.
Why is basic dental care important?
Practicing basic dental care:
- Prevents Reference tooth decay Opens New Window.
- Prevents Reference gum (periodontal) disease Opens New Window Reference Opens New Window, which can damage gum tissue and the Reference bones Opens New Window Reference Opens New Window that support Reference teeth Opens New Window Reference Opens New Window, and in the long term can lead to the loss of teeth.
- Shortens time with the dentist and dental hygienist, and makes the trip more pleasant.
- Saves money. By preventing tooth decay and gum disease, you can reduce the need for Reference fillings Opens New Window and other costly procedures.
- Helps prevent bad breath. Brushing and flossing rid your mouth of the bacteria that cause bad breath.
- Helps keep teeth white by preventing staining from food, drinks, and tobacco.
- Improves overall health.
- Makes it possible for your teeth to last a lifetime.
Are there ways to avoid dental problems?
Keeping your teeth and gums healthy requires good nutrition and regular brushing and flossing.
- Brush your teeth twice a day—in the morning and before bed—and floss once a day. This removes Reference plaque Opens New Window, which can lead to damaged teeth, gums, and surrounding bone.
- Use a toothpaste that contains Reference fluoride Opens New Window, which helps prevent tooth decay and Reference cavities Opens New Window. Ask your dentist if you need a mouthwash that contains fluoride or one with ingredients that fight plaque. Look for toothpastes that have been approved by the American Dental Association.
- Avoid foods that contain a lot of sugar. Sugar helps plaque grow.
- Avoid using tobacco products, which can cause gum disease and Reference oral cancer Opens New Window. Exposure to tobacco smoke (secondhand smoke) also may cause gum disease as well as other health problems.Reference 1
- Practice tongue cleaning. You can use a tongue cleaner or a soft-bristle toothbrush, stroking in a back-to-front direction. Tongue cleaning is particularly important for people who smoke or whose tongues are coated or deeply grooved.
- Schedule regular trips to the dentist based on how often you need exams and cleaning.
When should your child start seeing a dentist?
By the time your child is 6 months of age, your doctor should assess the likelihood of your child having future dental problems. If he or she thinks your child will have dental problems, be sure your child sees a dentist before his or her first birthday or 6 months after the first Reference primary teeth appear Opens New Window Reference Opens New Window, whichever comes first. After your first visit, schedule regular visits every 6 months or as your dentist recommends.
Experts recommend that your child's dental care start at 12 months of age. If your baby has dental problems caused by injury, disease, or a developmental problem, see your pediatric dentist right away.
Frequently Asked Questions
Learning about basic dental care:
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference July 19, 2011|
|Medical Review:||Reference E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Reference Arden Christen, DDS, MSD, MA, FACD - Dentistry