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Fluoride is a naturally-occurring mineral that strengthens tooth enamel, the teeth's outer coating. It does so by re-mineralizing, or rebuilding, weakened enamel. This process reverses early signs of tooth decay, so fluoride should be regularly introduced to your teeth. Using fluoride toothpaste, other fluoride dental products, and drinking fluoridated water are all ways to gain the benefits of fluoride.
Applying a fluoride varnish is an effective way to gain the benefits of fluoride, preventing, slowing down, or halting tooth decay. Fluoride varnish is applied to tooth enamel using a brush and results in a strong shield against plaque. Plaque eats through enamel, eventually causing cavities, so this shield provides protection against tooth decay. Varnishes can be applied anywhere from 2-4 times each year, depending on one's susceptibility to cavities. Fluoride varnishes are completely safe and highly recommended by both dentists and doctors. The treatment is quick, painless, and effective, making it a good option for maintaining oral health.
For more information on this topic, you can visit the Dentaly Fluoride Varnish page.
Receiving dental sealants is one of the easiest ways to help protect your teeth from decay. Sealants are proven to protect against 80% of cavities within the first two years of their application and against 50% for up to four years thereafter.
Dental sealants are thin coatings applied to the chewing surfaces of the molars to prevent the formation of cavities. One of two different materials may be used to create a sealant: glass ionomer or composite resin. Both material are safe and effective. They protect teeth by filling in the crevices on the teeth's surfaces that a toothbrush cannot reach. This creates a layer against harmful bacteria and foods that can cause tooth erosion.
Because of their simplicity and effectiveness, it is highly encouraged that those susceptible to the development of cavities receive sealants. Combined with regular brushing, flossing, and dentist visits, dental sealants help mitigate tooth decay.
More information about dental sealants can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) School Sealant Programs page.
Your teeth can last you a lifetime with proper care. Steps should be taken today to prevent issues in the future. Habits you should adopt to maintain a healthy mouth and strong teeth include:
- Drinking fluoridated water
- Brushing teeth for at least two minutes, twice a day, with fluoride toothpaste
- Flossing daily
- Visiting your dentist at least once a year, children twice a year
- Not using tobacco products
- Limiting alcoholic drinks
- Visiting your dentist if you experience any concerning changes
Adhering to these healthy habits are essential to achieve good oral health. In doing so, you can maintain a high quality of life with your smile.
Source: Oral Health - American Dental Association.
What we consume largely influences our oral health. Sugary foods and drinks are major sources of tooth decay because the sugars they contain cause the bacteria in plaque, a sticky film that forms on the teeth, to produce acids. These acids stay in contact with your teeth due to the stickiness of the plaque, eventually leading to weakened enamel. To maintain strong, healthy teeth, drink lots of water and eat a variety of foods from the five major food groups: whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and low-fat/fat-free dairy products. Eating a balanced diet is not only beneficial to your body's health, but your oral health too.
To learn which foods are most harmful to your teeth, visit the Top 9 Foods That Damage Your Teeth page.
Using tobacco products has several risks associated with your oral health. Not only does it cause bad breath, it can also result in:
- Stained teeth and tongue
- Dulled sense of taste
- Slow healing after oral surgeries
- Gum disease
- Oral cancer
Due to these risks, and others, it is advisable to avoid tobacco products to ensure a healthy life.
For more information about the harmful effects of tobacco products on oral health, please visit the CDC Smoking, Gum Disease and Tooth Loss page.