From childhood we have been told and taught to brush our teeth, but the surrounding gum and dental structures are just as important in maintaining proper dental health. We should scrub and massage all surfaces of our gums using a soft bristle toothbrush or electric brush so as not to bruise or damage the gums.
Dental decay is caused by the action of oral bacteria on plaque or residual masticated food that clings to the teeth and gums. Keeping this to a minimum with proper brushing, gum massaging and flossing will help to lower the incidence of decay. The use of fluoridated toothpastes and mouth rinses help to strengthen the enamel. It has been shown lately that the addition of Xylitol --a naturally occurring sugar-- helps to minimize the adhesion of plaque to the teeth and gums, thus minimizing decay. Xylitol can be found in some chewing gums, juices, toothpastes and other products, so be sure to check the labeling.
Proper occlusion and alignment of the dentition also help to minimize decay; one should also practice proper and safe oral habits. Use athletic protective mouth-guards when participating in contact sports. Avoid noxious oral habits such as chewing on pencils or pens and using sharp instruments to remove food particles from between the teeth. And be aware of the habit of bruxing or severe clenching which could lead to temporo-mandibular or T.M.J. problems. Treatment methods should be discussed with your dentist.
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Tyrone L Cheeping DDS PA
1661 NE 163rd St., North Miami Beach, FL 33162
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