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Tips to keep your teeth in top shape the other 363 days

02 June 2011

As much as we would like things to stay the same, the reality is that we are all getting older. When we are young, we always wanted to be older. Now that we are older, we want things to stay the same. Lately, I have had several patients say to me, ” Don’t get old because your teeth get old too!”. I thought about that but I realised that some older patients have all of their teeth and maintain regular recare appointments and do home teeth whitening on a regular basis. Some of my younger patients have badly neglected teeth with several broken and missing. I can only guess what their mouths are going to look like in the future.

Sure, some of it has to be because of genetics, that is, the teeth that you got from your parents. Most importantly though are the traits that you learnt from your parents about taking care of your teeth. Things like brushing your teeth in the morning and evening, not eating anything after you’ve brushed your teeth for bed, or if you did then brushing them again. Everything in moderation – you can’t expect to eat sweets and drink soft drink everyday without it having some effect on your teeth. Some people floss several times a day, others have not even heard of flossing! Imagine you only showered once a week, you would smell different if you showered daily.

Still, the teeth are not going to stay the same as in early adulthood no matter how well you look after them. The only way they’ll stay like that is if they’re in a museum! The lollies, chocolates, nuts, biscuits, and hard crunchy things that we chew on each day, the coffees, teas and red wines and soft drink that that we drink each day, the sports that we do, the accidents that we have all make the mouth a very harsh environment for the teeth and also on any restorations that are placed in the mouth. The mouth is on a slippery downhill slide, the best that we can hope for is to make sure that it is not always slippery and that the slope is not steep.

This is why continuing care is so important, and that care starts at home. It is no good just visiting the dentist and hygienist 2 days in the year for a checkup and clean if you’re not looking after them the other 363 days. So, here are some tips on taking care of your teeth:

Brush your teeth twice a day – morning and night – this is a minimum not a maximum because if you’ve got braces or wear Invisalign you’ll need to brush after every meal. An electric toothbrush does do a better job of cleaning teeth.

Floss daily – even the best brusher in the world will get some food stuck between their teeth

Don’t chew on hard things like fingernails, ice cubes, crab claws, bottlecaps, electrical wire, nails (no not even just to hold them)

Use your custom teeth whitening trays at least yearly – just a few sessions with teeth whitening gel will brighten them right up

People who are:

Bruxers (grind their teeth), or have anterior veneers – make sure you always wear your night guard, if you don’t know if you grind then use your whitening trays and see what happens to them

Teenagers – BRUSH YOUR TEETH!!

Smokers – smoking is just too expensive and there’s so many places to get help with quitting

Visit your dentist/hygienist every six months – any problems are only just small ones and are much easier to fix, and healthy teeth and gums do NOT bleed when you brush

– make sure we use the Velscope to check for any lesions in the mouth