I had my first cavity when I was 50. It was a small one. Eventually, I cracked that tooth — tooth pain is worse than back pain — and I had the tooth pulled and replaced with a simple dental procedure that everyone should undergo: a dental implant. Just kidding.
So, I no longer have a cavity.
The lack of cavities is purely genetic. I mainlined cola soda when I was growing up. I ate cookies, cake and candy, which explains my blood sugar challenges, but that’s for another blog.
However, I always went to the dentist growing up.
As an adult, I adopted my mother’s dental habits. She went to the dentist for a cleaning every three or four months. So do I.
I still don’t have great dental habits. I have to force myself to floss daily, and I’ve never brushed before bed. I need to.
I need to really start flossing and brushing more than once a day. I already have some gum recession.
According to dental websites, brushing, flossing and rinsing are the cornerstones of good dental health, as well as regular visits to the dentist.
Since I never had an drilling in my mouth growing up, I never developed a fear or phobia of the dentist.
Apparently half the country skips regular dental visits. And I try to go three or four times a year. My regular visits will at least catch any potential problems early, such as cancer, gum disease, cavities, etc. Years ago I also switched from a old-fashioned soft toothbrush to an electric one.
Let’s take a look at the major steps you can take to keep your teeth and mouth healthy. Some of these steps also will make you healthier, as well.
First, I have given up sugar-added food for the most part. More than a year ago, I saw the documentary “Fed Up,” which is about how added sugar is the root of all evil. Really!
As such, I gave up buying any food with added sugar. The only exceptions was light Soy Milk (sugar-free Soy Milk just does not taste good) and pasta sauce (it only has about 3-4 grams of sugar per serving and it costs about $2-$3 per jar compared to $7-$8 for the no sugar-added variety).
Even today, I will have too much candy at the movies, but I limit it primarily to my visits to the theater. I do go a lot, however, so I do smuggle in healthy alternatives as often as possible.
Sugar-added soda is a major culprit for tooth decay, but it is also because of the phosphoric acid and citric acid that is bad for your teeth.
Right now, I almost always order water when I eat out, and I don’t buy soda for the house.
You also should push the candy, cookies and cake aside. The sugar creates bacteria and acid in your mouth, which is what helps cause plaque buildup. Try to brush and floss after every meal or snack.
One problem I never faced was the effects of smoking has on your teeth. We all know the yellowish color of smokers’ teeth. Also, who wants to kiss a smoker?
Where I fall down is holding my toothbrush at a 45-degree angle, although I do know you should use soft bristles. Don’t brush too hard or too long because you can damage your gums (I know a younger woman in her 40s who didn’t realize how much damage she was causing when brushing her teeth.).
Today, you have so many toothpaste choices. When I was growing up, we had Colgate, Crest, UltraBrite and a few others, but today you have dozens and dozens choices. You have toothpaste that offers total protection or those that whiten your teeth, To combat cavities, use toothpaste with fluoride in it. As you get older, if you have sensitive teeth to cold, try a brand that offers toothpaste with strontium chloride or potassium nitrate. You even can buy toothpaste to prevent tartar buildup which is the byproduct of plaque buildup.
There is a lot you can do to prevent problems with your teeth. Determine the correct toothbrush for your needs. I think the electric brushes are better, but that’s my opinion. Keep brushing and flossing after each meal. Use the right toothpaste for your needs. Check in with your dentist at least twice a year. Most dental insurance allows you two visits per year.
It is up to you. Your teeth right now are figuratively in your hands. You don’t want them to be literally there, as well.