Overton Brooks VA Medical Center
Caring For Your Teeth And Mouth
Healthy teeth are clean and have few cavities.
Healthy gums are pink and firm.
Tooth decay and cavities are common and can occur at any age. Tooth decay
and cavities can result in pain, difficulty eating, infection and tooth loss if not
- Plaque develops from the combination of food and bacteria. It starts to build up on teeth about 20 minutes after eating. If plaque is not removed each day by brushing and flossing, it can lead to tooth decay.
- Over time, plaque, which is soft and sticky, becomes tarter which is solid and hard. The buildup of tarter leads to cavities and irritates your gums. It can also cause damage to the tissues and bone that support teeth, resulting in pain and tooth abscesses and a variety of health problems including heart disease.
- Tarter can be removed with a routine dental cleaning. Many dentists recommend a routine cleaning every 6 months.
Tips for healthy teeth and gums
- Brush after meals and at bedtime. Using toothpaste with fluoride can help prevent cavities.
- Floss daily.
- Visit your dentist regularly. Have your teeth cleaned on a regular basis. Regular dental exams help to maintain healthy teeth and gums and can spot and treat problems early. This can result in early detection of precancerous or cancerous lesions.
- Avoid tobacco. Tobacco use - cigarette, cigars, chew or spit tobacco - is the #1 risk factor for developing cancer of the mouth and throat.
- Limit alcohol intake. Increased alcohol intake is a risk factor for oral throat cancer.
- Eat a healthy and balanced diet. Avoid or limit the amount of sugars you eat each day. Eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables, high in fiber, each day.
Ask your dentist:
- What toothbrush you should use
- If you have problem areas and where they are
- The correct way to brush and floss your teeth
- If you should use any special water irrigation or electric toothbrushes in addition to brushing and flossing
- If you would benefit from a special mouth rinse
Your teeth are meant to last a lifetime.
Taking care and protecting your teeth can help them to stay healthy.