Thanks to advances in dentistry over the last century, more Americans are enjoying full, healthy smiles. Innovation has provided us tools for exceptional cosmetic dentistry, and extensive scientific research has shown us ways to effectively treat dental issues like tooth decay and gum disease. Yet, when it comes to the basics of oral health care, it seems Americans have not learned as much as they should have. According to a survey conducted by the American Dental Association (ADA), Americans’ scored an average “D” when quizzed about oral health. The survey consisted of true or false questions concerning issues such as how often to brush your teeth, what causes cavities, and proper toothbrush care, among others. To help bolster your knowledge and increase your chances of a life-long healthy smile, Syosset dentist Dr. Richard Kobak reviews the basics of good oral health care.
At-Home Tooth Care
A surprising 90% of the participants in the survey answered that you should brush your teeth after every meal. While that may seem like an ideal textbook answer, it is incorrect. The ADA recommends that you brush and floss your teeth at least twice a day for around 2-3 minutes at a time. A third tooth brushing session, preferably after lunch, may provide additional cleaning and protection; however most working adults do not have the time to brush their teeth for the recommended time period in the middle of a work day.
Approximately 65% of the people surveyed believe that you should replace your toothbrush at least twice a year. According to the ADA, the frequency should be more like every three months. When choosing a new toothbrush, by-pass those with harsh, natural bristles, usually made from animal hair. Choose a soft-bristled toothbrush, and be sure to check for the ADA seal of approval on any dental product you purchase.
Protecting your Oral Health
Eighty-one percent of people believe that eating too much sugar is the cause of cavities. This is only partly true. The plaque that constantly forms in your mouth contains a particular bacterium called S. mutans. This microbe feeds on the sugar in your diet and produces lactic acid as a result. Since plaque covers every surface of your mouth, so does the lactic acid it excretes. The acid attacks your teeth by sapping them of essential minerals and weakens your tooth enamel until bacteria are able to slip past the defense and cause decay. The belief that sugar is the direct cause of cavities has led people to cut candy out of their diets, but the misconception prevents them from realizing that the same refined sugar is found in everyday foods and drinks, including fruit juices and most processed foods.
Perhaps one of the most neglected, and important, oral hygiene practices is visiting your dentist for a dental checkup at least once every six months. To learn more, or to schedule a consultation with Dr. Kobak, call our Syosset dental office at (516) 433-2211. We welcome patients from Long Island, Nassau, Suffolk, and the surrounding New York City neighborhoods.