Recently, Tammy shared with me the results of her dental lesson, and I knew I had to share. Her students drew posters educating others about the importance of brushing, flossing, and healthy eating for improved oral health. Headlines range from “Two Brushes a Day Keeps the Cavities Away,” to “Keep the Sugar Bugs Out,” to one of my favorites, “Stay Away From Dragon Breath – Clean Every Day.” See below for some of these beautiful illustrations.
How to Protect a Smile (and Prevent Dragon Breath!)
Tammy’s teachable moment is one of the most important lessons students can learn to prevent tooth decay and periodontal disease. Daily brushings and flossing, along with a diet low in starchy foods, is the best way to protect teeth and maintain a healthy, strong mouth free from decay or infection. And of course, Tammy is leading by example by also showing students the importance of attending regular dental examinations. Bi-annual dental cleanings and examinations allow me to catch any early decay or gingivitis before it grows or spreads. If caught early, typically a small filling or a deeper clean will eradicate the problem. However, left unchecked and untreated, these problems could escalate and require root canals, dental extractions, or gum surgery; so “Keep Your Teeth Nice and Clean,” isn’t just a clever headline – it’s great advice! Preventive care can keep you from needing invasive restorative work, and save you from having to cover the cost of these more detailed procedures.
Brush Up on Your Brushing
When it comes to preventive care, the right technique when brushing can mean a big improvement in your ability to remove plaque build-up effectively at home. And it starts with the right toothbrush; I recommend following The American Dental Association guidelines and using soft-bristled toothbrushes. This type of brush is made to be more flexible, and gentler on your delicate gum line. Once you select a brush at the store, put a few extra in the cart: a good rule of thumb is to replace your toothbrush with every season (or every 3 months). Don’t forget to always replace sooner if the bristles become frayed or bent.
To brush like a dentist, use soft, circular strokes and position your brush head upwards slightly; this helps to reach plaque that accumulates on the gum line. You may think that a good “scrub” will clean your teeth better, but that’s not necessarily true. Plaque or leftover food particles can be removed with just a gentle swipe of the brush. If your brush’s bristles are pressed flat against your teeth and gums – ease up! Be gentle on your teeth and gums to prevent irritation.
Follow up your nightly brushing with a quick floss between each tooth, and rest easy knowing you’re following Tammy’s fifth-graders’ advice. And if it’s been more than six months since you’ve seen me for a dental cleaning and examination, call our practice to schedule your next appointment. A quick cleaning and examination are much simpler than lengthy restorative work down the road!