Learning About Dental Care

Learning About Dental Care

What is basic dental care?

Basic dental care involves:

  • Brushing and flossing your teeth regularly.
  • Seeing your dentist and/or dental hygienist for regular checkups and cleanings.
  • Eating a mouth-healthy diet, which means foods high in whole grains, vegetables and fruits, and dairy products.

How does it affect your health?

Practicing basic dental care:

  • Prevents tooth decay and gum disease.
  • Helps prevent bad breath. Brushing and flossing rid your mouth of the bacteria that cause bad breath.
  • Helps keep teeth white by preventing staining from food, drinks, and tobacco.
  • Improves overall health.
  • Makes it possible for your teeth to last a lifetime.

What can you do to prevent dental problems?

  • Brush your teeth twice a day, in the morning and at night.
    • Use a toothbrush with soft, rounded-end bristles and a head that is small enough to reach all parts of your teeth and mouth.
    • Replace your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months.
    • Use a fluoride toothpaste.
    • Place the brush at a 45-degree angle where the teeth meet the gums. Press firmly, and gently rock the brush back and forth using small circular movements.
    • Brush chewing surfaces vigorously with short back-and-forth strokes.
    • Brush your tongue from back to front.
  • Floss at least once a day. The type of floss you use is not important. Choose the type and flavor that you like best.
  • Eat a balanced diet that includes whole grains, vegetables, and fruits and is low in saturated fat and sodium. Good nutrition is vital to maintaining healthy gums and avoiding tooth decay.
    • Mozzarella and other cheeses, peanuts, yogurt, milk, and sugar-free chewing gum (especially gum that contains xylitol) are good for your teeth.
    • Avoid foods that contain a lot of sugar, especially sticky, sweet foods like taffy.
    • Don't snack before bedtime, because food left on the teeth is more likely to cause cavities at night.
  • Do not smoke or use other tobacco products. Using any tobacco product makes it more likely you will have mouth cancer or gum disease. Tobacco use also causes bad breath and stains your teeth and tongue. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.

Care instructions adapted under license by Slm. This care instruction is for use with your licensed healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.