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Oral Hygiene

The cornerstone to a good oral hygiene regimen is proper brushing and flossing habits. For more on brushing and flossing, see our Brushing & Flossing page.

 

Tooth Decay Prevention

Tooth decay is a progressive disease resulting from the interaction of bacteria that naturally occur on the teeth and sugars in the everyday diet. Bacteria in the plaque metabolizes sugar, and produces acids that break down the mineral in teeth, forming a cavity. Dentists remove the decay and fill the tooth using a variety of fillings, returning the tooth to a healthy state. Nerve damage can result from severe decay and may require a root canal and a crown (a crown is like a large filling that can cap or completely cover a tooth, making it stronger). Avoiding unnecessary decay simply requires strict adherence to a dental hygiene regimen: brushing and flossing twice a day, regular dental check-ups, diet control and fluoride treatment. Practicing good hygiene will help you avoid unhealthy teeth and costly treatment.

Sealants

The grooves and depressions that form on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth are extremely difficult (if not impossible) to clean of bacteria and food. As the bacteria reacts with the food, acids form and break down the tooth enamel, causing cavities. Recent studies indicate that 88 percent of total cavities in American school children are caused this way.

Tooth sealants protect these susceptible areas by sealing the grooves and depressions, preventing bacteria and food particles from residing in these areas. Sealant material is a resin typically applied to the back teeth, molars and premolars and areas prone to cavities. It lasts for several years but needs to be checked during regular appointments, and may require maintenance or repair.

Fluoride

Fluoride is a substance that helps teeth become stronger and resistant to decay. Regularly drinking water treated with fluoride and brushing and flossing regularly ensures significantly lower cavities. Dentists can evaluate the level of fluoride in a primary drinking water source and recommend fluoride supplements (usually in tablets or drops), if necessary.