Part of a healthy body is a healthy smile! Here are some facts and tips on keeping your teeth healthy. Cavities are formed when the bacteria in our mouths create acids that eat away at the enamel (the hard outer surface) on our teeth. These acids are produced when we consume sugary or starchy foods or beverages (such as soda, juice, cookies or bread). Minerals in saliva, such as calcium and phosphate, as well as fluoride from toothpaste, replace the minerals lost when the enamel is attacked by the acid. However, when teeth are frequently exposed to acid, the enamel weakens. A white spot on a tooth can be an early sign of decay. At this point, the decay can be stopped or reversed through good oral hygiene—brushing with a fluoride toothpaste, drinking fluoridated water, flossing, and regularly visiting the dentist. If left untreated, however, the decay continues and the tooth’s enamel is weakened to the point that a hole, or cavity, forms. Cavities are permanently damaged areas which must be filled by a dentist. If cavities aren’t repaired, they enlarge and affect deeper layers of the teeth, leading to severe toothache, infection, and tooth loss.
Good dental hygiene plays a major role in preventing cavities. Keeping teeth as clean as possible, and regularly visiting the dentist, can prevent a painful bout of tooth decay.
WHAT IS PLAQUE? Plaque is a sticky film that forms on teeth. It contains bacteria that can bring cavities or gum disease. Plaque not removed by brushing and flossing can harden into tartar. Tartar can’t be removed through brushing, but can be removed in a professional cleaning by a dentist or dental hygienist.
So, here are your tips for a great smile:
· Floss. Be sure to floss once a day to get rid of food particles in between your teeth. Up to 35 percent of the tooth’s surface doesn’t get clean if you don’t floss.
· Limit sugary beverages. Drinks such as soda, juice, and alcoholic beverages have high sugar content. The bacteria in your mouth grow on sugar and form plaque, which can create cavities.
· Visit your dentist. See your dentist every six months. A dental hygienist will clean your teeth and remove any plaque and tartar buildup. X-rays may be taken to allow the dentist to see your teeth down to the roots.
· Don’t smoke. Smoking can stain your teeth and make gum disease and tooth decay more likely.
So, keep on smiling and celebrate your healthy teeth this July as we keep on working on maintaining healthy bodies.
Here’s to summer,
Mary Ann Martin, RN, FCN