We all know that prevention is better than cure. In the strange and ‘unprecedented’ times we are currently living in, it means so much more. We are all practising prevention by doing our best to slow and eventually stop the spread of Covid-19, or Coronavirus. However, we should be mindful of the same mantra with regard to various other illnesses and ailments.
What steps should you be taking?
Taking the steps to look after your health and well-being in order to avoid illnesses is much better than doing nothing. When it comes to teeth and oral health, dental professionals will always preach prevention. They are always asking if you have been flossing? (Well, have you?)! The reason is simple. Great oral hygiene can help prevent a variety of dental problems, especially gum disease.
What is gum disease?
Gum disease is often a ‘silent’ problem. Patients usually only become aware of its presence by the time problems occur. This can be loose teeth, movement of teeth, or pain. Unfortunately, at this stage, the disease may have progressed to the point where it is difficult to treat.
Gum disease causes inflammation. This is caused by bacteria in plaque build-up. In its early stage, it can be treated. This is why understanding your own gum health, and attending regular dental check-ups and hygiene appointments is crucial. Your dental team can spot and diagnose early signs of gum disease. They will work on a treatment plan with you to reverse the problem.
Gum disease is classed as a systemic disease. It is linked to other conditions within the body. These conditions include cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, diabetes, and adverse pregnancy outcomes. Because the bacteria that causes gum disease can move from your mouth to other areas of the body it causes problems along the way. So, by taking good care of your oral health will help to boost your overall health, too.
Taking the steps to create a great oral care regime at home is your best defence against gum disease. We should all be brushing our teeth for two minutes, twice a day, with a fluoride toothpaste. It is well worth using the timer on your smartphone. It is amazing how long 2 minutes can last!
Think of your mouth in four sections – top right, top left, bottom right, and bottom left. You should take 30 seconds brushing each section. Pay attention to each surface in that section. This is the best way to give your teeth a really thorough clean each time.
In addition, we should all floss at least once a day. Even the best brushing regime cannot clean the surfaces between the teeth. This is where food particles (bacteria, yuk!) can become trapped. There are many flossing tools and techniques that you can employ including dental tape, interdental brushes and water flossers. Your dentist or dental hygienist can recommend the best methods for you. Be sure to ask during your next appointment.
Regular hygiene appointments are vital for maintaining good oral health. This is true even if your home care routine is excellent. Your hygienist will remove any plaque build-up. They will also discuss with you any areas of your mouth that may require extra attention. Most of us have places that we frequently miss. It’s good to be armed with this knowledge in order to give these spots extra attention.
Your dentist and/or hygienist will recommend how often you should attend appointments. For most people this is every six months. Sometimes you may need to attend more frequently, such as every three months. This may be because it is necessary to monitor and manage active gum disease. You might have an orthodontic appliance in place that requires more regular hygiene treatment.
Value your health
Living by the mantra of ‘prevention is better than cure’ will allow you to place additional value on your own health. We are lucky enough to have the means to be able to take care of our own health. This is through our diet and fitness. We also have access to healthcare services that can work with us to monitor aspects of our health, such as the dental practice. When everything else is stripped away your health is the most valuable thing you have. Please look after it.