In real estate it is location, location, location. In dentistry it is maintenance, maintenance, maintenance! Two things can be guaranteed in dentistry; I can make it hurt if you want me to (but there is no need for it to) and 2) I guarantee the filling, crown, etc will never, ever decay. Let’s talk about the second item. Every dentist can actually guarantee that. However, all fillings are placed in or on some amount of natural tooth as are all crowns excerpt those that are placed on implants. The filling or crown will never, ever decay; it is the tooth under or around the filling/crown that develops recurrent decay. The fact that a tooth had decay once means you have the strain of bacteria that causes cavities in your mouth and you may of course get a cavity back around a filling or crown. Many cavities originally are in between teeth where a tooth brush doesn’t reach. A filling gets placed eliminating the cavity, but there is still tooth structure in between teeth, further toward the roots that can decay. If you have had gingivitis or periodontitis (gum disease) treated, it doesn’t mean it won’t redevelop. So, what do you do? Maintain periodic recare appointments – checkups. The cleaner teeth and gums are kept, the less likely you are to develop problems. It doesn’t guarantee you won’t have a problem, but it does allow for catching a problem early when it is easier, and less expensive to treat. How frequently should you visit the dentist? It really depends on each individual. If you have had periodontal treatment, you likely should be seen every three months, especially while trying to get your gums healthy. If you have had a lot of dental treatment, you likely should be seen every 6 months. If you have had little treatment and don’t build tartar much, you may be fine once a year. What about x-rays during your checkup? Again, it depends on past history. The more work you have had done, the more likely you will have treatment needs recurring and hence have x-rays more frequently, every 6-12 months. Little to no previous treatment, risk factors low, you can extend the interval to 12-24 months. Just keep in mind if you are going to develop a problem, you want to catch it early.
Whatever your current oral status is keep a couple of things in mind, there isn’t any one item that will make or break the outcome whether it be cavities, gum disease or even bad breath. Multiple factors influence what happens, but here are some helpful recommendations:
Brush your teeth twice a day in a circular motion with a soft bristled toothbrush aimed at the gum.
Floss every night in an up-and-down motion while keeping the floss in a C-shape and against the tooth surface, carrying it below the gumline.
Avoid smoking and chewing tobacco.
Avoid sticky sugary foods.
Eat a balanced diet.
Use antiseptic and fluoride rinses as directed.
Have sealants placed on young permanent teeth.
Keep your scheduled Recare appointments. Don’t have one? Schedule today.
You may not think some of it helps or that you don’t need to do it, but trust us, we see day in and day out what flossing and brushing or lack thereof can do.