Visiting the dentist has long been thought of as a chore, given a negative pretense due in large part to pain that is often associated with common dental procedures. Unfortunately, this leads to the avoidance of the recommended bi-annual trip for professional cleanings and exams, which more times than not contributes to more serious oral health issues. Your mouth is just like most things in life, (i.e., car maintenance, house work, bill paying, etc) the more you put it off, the harder it is to complete. The best way to keep from dealing with not-so-pleasant trips to the dentist is to stay on top of your oral health by maintaining a healthy oral hygiene routine. For years, the American Dental Association (ADA) has recommended brushing twice a day, flossing regularly, and visiting your dentist twice a year. But did you know there are other habits you can develop to keep common oral health issues at bay? I recently ran across a Huffington Post article that listed several of the most common dental problems and what you can do about them. Instead of ignoring them, give these antidotes a try.
Bad breath: Often referred to as halitosis, the most common source of bad breath is the tongue. It can be caused by dry mouth occurring naturally during sleep, common foods such as onion and garlic, and post nasal drip. Daily tongue scraping while brushing your teeth can play a huge part in decreasing bad breath. If the problem persists however, it is important to consult your dentist as a larger issue may be at play.
Gum disease: This oral disease can be caused by numerous factors, but the most common are bad oral hygiene, smoking, and genetic susceptibility. It often doesn’t rear its ugly head until an individual is in their 30s or 40s, but teenagers can also contract gingivitis, the milder form of the disease. Periodontitis, the more severe form, can put you at greater risk for heart attack or stroke, and often requires treatment which includes deep cleaning or scraping below the gum line, and in some cases, surgery. Practice good oral hygiene (brush and floss regularly) and avoid smoking to minimize your risk of developing gum disease.
Mouth sores: There are typically two types of mouth sores, canker sores and herpes. Canker sores are non-viral and caused by a variety of triggers, from stress to hereditary predilection. Herpes is virus based and contagious. Canker sores typically take about 12 days to run their course while oral herpes often require anti-viral creams and pills. Chronic canker sore sufferers should consult with their physician to try to determine their trigger, which can then be avoided.
Tooth sensitivity: There are several causes of tooth sensitivity, including exposure to heat or cold, sensitivity to acidity, cracked teeth, or exposed root surfaces. If your teeth are noticeably and consistently sensitive, you should consult with your dentist to determine the cause. There are many treatment options available once the source has been identified.
Yellow teeth: When teeth are exposed to stain-causing foods and beverages, they become discolored over time. Even though yellowing teeth isn’t a health risk, many people find that correcting the color contributes greatly to your outward appearance. There are several over-the-counter products available to whiten teeth, but professional whitening is both faster and more effective.
Cavities: Caused by bacteria in the mouth that has been left alone, cavities can be painful, eating away at tooth enamel and exposing nerves. The best way to prevent cavities is to maintain a good oral hygiene routine. Once formed, cavities need to be filled, or in more extreme circumstances, a crown can be placed or a root canal can be performed.
Teeth grinding: Often referred to as Bruxism, teeth grinding is very common in adults and can cause significant damage. The most common causes of bruxism are misaligned teeth and stress. Restorative dentistry can repair alignment issues and a mouth guard can be fitted to lessen the damage. But stress relief is the preventative treatment here. Daily relaxation techniques can help reduce stress and help train the muscles of the face and jaw to relax.
The common thread in avoiding most dental issues is maintaining a proper oral hygiene routine. In order to avoid significant pain, both physical and financial, visiting your dentist before any issues arise, or shortly after one is detected, is crucial.
Written by Mark Paulsort
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