Teeth are vulnerable to damage and require care to retain healthy dental function. However, teeth and gums can become damaged over time due to wear, teeth grinding, acid erosion, plaque, infection and habits such as smoking.
There are steps we can take to protect our teeth from damage, decay and injury, including:
Maintaining a proper oral hygiene routine can help to keep teeth, gums and the tongue free from infection and disease. Poor oral hygiene has the potential to cause tooth decay, gum disease and the spread of infection. Inflamed, bleeding gums and bad breath are signs of gingivitis or the start of gum disease and infection.
Effective oral hygiene enables healthy dental development and function for eating enjoyable foods and communicating with others. A fresh mouth gives a sense of well-being and stops oral and general illness arising.
It is important to maintain proper teeth brushing technique and use fluoride toothpaste. Improper teeth brushing habits can damage tooth enamel and lead to tooth sensitivity when the dentin is exposed. Teeth are then more vulnerable to tooth decay and infection. A typical dental hygiene regime includes:
Where vulnerable people are unable to clean their teeth due to dexterity or mobility issues, or they require added support, a carer should provide the needed dental hygiene care to prevent oral and overall illness.
Dentists provide guideline for those with dental restorations, orthodontic braces or dentures on how best to care for these devices. Cleaning restorations and appliances should form part of the oral hygiene regime to protect teeth and prevent plaque that is harmful to oral structures and health. Children and vulnerable adults can sometimes need help in maintaining dental devices.
Teeth structure can sometimes limit access for proper dental cleaning, and these are also hotpots for bits of food and plaque to become trapped. A professional dental cleaning consisting of a scale and polish is important for healthy teeth.
Dentists have the tools for proper cleaning to remove trapped debris that can otherwise be difficult to remove through home teeth cleaning. Teeth are polished to make it more difficult for sticky plaque to attach to rough tooth surfaces. Without proper dental cleanings, plaque and tartar can lead to the eventual development of tooth decay, cavities and oral infection.
Attending dental check-ups enables evaluation and treatment recommendations for the preservation and restoration of dental structures. Dentists check for early signs of tooth decay, infection, gum disease, tooth fractures and teeth irregularities. If dental treatment is in progress its success may be monitored for adjustment.
Poor oral hygiene may lead to tooth decay, oral abscesses and infection, and can require emergency dental care. If left untreated these conditions may lead to infection of the tooth root canals and require root canal treatment to prevent tooth damage and loss.
Where oral injury occurs immediate emergency dental care should be sought to prevent infection. This will also ensure the restoration of healthy dental function. Dental and health complications can arise if oral injuries are not treated through emergency dental care.
Although dental repair kits or emergency dental kits are a temporary treatment solution before receiving professional emergency dental care, they are not a long term or permanent fix for dental or gum damage.
Those receiving orthodontic care such as Invisalign may be tempted not to follow orthodontic guidelines by frequently removing the brace. To protect teeth and for successful treatment results it is best to wear the brace as per the dentist's guidelines. This will help to ensure the alignment of teeth and bite.
Orthodontic braces are used to treat misaligned teeth, bite and jaw. Conditions such as protruding, crowded and crooked teeth are all treatable with dental braces to protect teeth structure and alignment. All types of bite or malocclusion disorders are included in such treatments and are available to correct mild to severe orthodontic conditions.
Individuals are increasingly choosing teeth straightening treatment to improve bite function and improve smile aesthetics. Modern choices in invisible braces means individuals can receive teeth alignment without the stigma of traditional metal braces. Modern braces are designed to be removable for easy cleaning.
If orthodontic braces become broken or damaged they should not be worn because teeth and gums may be injured. Immediate dental care should be sought to repair the braces or replace aligners. Not doing so can leave the teeth vulnerable to damage and may result in bite problems.
The same applies to damaged dental restorations and appliances. They should be immediately restored or repaired by a dental professional to preserve tooth and gum structures. Not doing so may lead to dental damage and gum irritation. Although filling, crown and denture repair kits are common these are temporary measures to protect teeth while seeking professional dental care.
Dentists offer individuals custom-made mouth guards for sports and to treat teeth grinding (bruxism). There are different types of mouth guards for various sports and teeth grinding, enabling function in speech and breathing without restriction. These mouth guards require maintenance and cleaning as per dentistry instructions to protect teeth and gums.