After treating patients for more than 17 years, I have observed the habits of many people when it comes to dental hygiene!
I try to explain to patients that my goals for them are to develop good basic habits for them because the benefits are so rewarding!
I also sympathize with patients who have a difficult lifestyle where hygiene is hard to maintain(e.g. truck drivers who need to drink soda to stay awake, nursing moms, etc.)
No matter where you are in your stage of dental health, whether you have a full set of teeth or wear dentures, it is never too late to develop good habits. Often sometimes we need some "gentle" guidance to get us started in the right direction.
A short story on improving habits: I grew up playing the violin since the age of 8. My first violin teacher was very nice but had me develop bad habits when I started playing. I was holding the violin and bow the wrong way. Even my neck and back were hurting at that young age! Then at age 13, I switched to a teacher who amazingly gave me all the gentle correction I needed! I not only learned how to play at a great level but to this day, I enjoy the violin so much and want to learn more!
So here's the tried and true plan for dental health success:
1) Eat right: 2-3 meals a day with most of your "sugary" content at meals, not at snacks.
- the principle here is that the more your teeth are bathed in sugar, the greater the chance that a cavity will develop
- saliva is the substance in your mouth that bathes your teeth from sugar, so eating at meals is the best time to generate saliva. Hence, eat your sugary foods at mealtimes!
If you have to snack with anything sugary or acidic, like coffee, be sure to rinse your mouth with water and brush your teeth at lunchtime. Or use something practical like sugarless gum, if it is allowed at work! And read the next point for snacking...
2) Eat good things such as fruits and vegetables and drink water
- these are the natural things which are normally cheaper than processed foods at the grocery store. They are better for your teeth and your health! You will find that eating these things will actually give you more energy in the long run. I always bring grapes as a snack to work and it is more far more energizing than eating a couple of doughnuts.
3) Brush at least twice a day. And floss!
-I find that brushing at night before you sleep is KEY, because if you allow the sugar to stay on your teeth all night, the bacteria in your mouth will feast and develop cavities very fast!
- There are right ways to brush/floss and wrong ways too! Our office can guide you in the right direction.
4) Find ways to reduce the stress in your life
- Believe it or not, this is the hardest thing to do. Relationships, job, family issues, health, etc. are always on our minds.
-If you are able to make a plan to work these issues out and get better sleep, exercise, etc., your jaw muscles will be less prone to what we call "parafunctional habits". These are what we refer to as "teeth" grinding" or "clenching" habits, which can lead to damaged teeth as well as a sore jaw.
5) Visit the dentist
- There are limitations to what you can clean off your teeth with a toothbrush and floss. We often need the help of a dental scaler to help remove those annoying deposits around the side and back corners of our teeth. Our office can certainly help, as I even go at least twice a year for my checkups.
Ok, that's all for now. If you have any questions or suggestions of
your own, please stop by the office and we can answer any of your questions!
Dr. Ed Lee