When you buy a new car or install a carpet, you do everything can to keep it in good condition. For the car, you get oil changes, get required inspections, rotate the tires and more. For your carpet, you vacuum and keep the kids and the dog from staining it. Diligence applies to your teeth and gums, too, says your Columbia general dentist, Dr. Kristina O'Neill. She and her dedicated team promote good oral hygiene habits so you have a healthy, attractive smile for life.
What's the point?
Routine oral hygiene has several benefits, including:
- Removal of bacteria-filled plaque and tartar
- Freshening breath
- Keeping teeth bright and attractive
- Avoidance of tooth decay and gum disease, both of which lead to systemic health problems and tooth loss
- Noticing oral health problems before they become expensive, painful and hard to treat
- Maintaining your systemic health
Many people don't realize that the last point--maintaining your systemic health--has anything to do with oral hygiene, but it does. The American Academy of Periodontology states that gum disease appears connected to harmful conditions such as diabetes, stroke, dementia, arthritis, kidney and liver problems, hypertension and more. The bacteria in plaque and tartar causes an inflammatory process outside the mouth, and overall health suffers as a result.
So what is good oral hygiene?
Here's what your general dentist in Columbia recommends:
- Eat a low-sugar/carb diet, and avoid between meal snacking.
- Drink plenty of water to wash your teeth and gums and increase saliva.
- Brush your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride toothpastes, rinses and in-office treatments strengthen tooth enamel and protect against decay.
- Floss daily to remove the plaque your toothbrush misses.
- If you smoke, stop. Cigarettes and even chewing tobacco release harmful toxins into the mouth, staining teeth and degrading gum tissue.
- Report any oral problems to Dr. O'Neill. Don't wait. Early treatment of pain, soreness, or defects such as chips keeps problems from worsening.
Finally, visit your Columbia general dentist every six months for a check-up and cleaning. She'll check for decay and signs of gum disease and do an oral cancer assessment. (Everyone over 18 should have one with each check-up). She'll also inspect any tooth replacements or restorations, such as fillings, you already have, and discuss how you might improve your oral hygiene routine. Interested in cosmetic improvements? Dr. O'Neill will address those, too.
An ounce of prevention...
As the old adage says, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Be vigilant about your dental and gingival health by practicing your best oral hygiene routine. If you're due for your six-month check-up and cleaning, call (803) 988-1070 for an appointment. We look forward to seeing you again!