Oral Health; Lifestyle Tips

Oral Health; Lifestyle Tips

Therapeutic fillings becoming available

Next time you have a cavity, ask your dentist about a tooth-colored dental filling called glass ionomers. These composites contain fluoride that is slowly released, which can help prevent tooth decay. Dental material researchers are working on other “smart” filling materials, which will be able to react to an environmental change by releasing a therapeutic agent, when needed, that can prevent decay from occurring again or even repair a decaying tooth.

Wondering what kind of toothbrush to use?

Whether you achieve better dental hygiene with a powered toothbrush compared to a manual one depends on how well you brush in the first place. However, many studies show that powered toothbrushes are more effective than manual toothbrushes at removing plaque and achieving gingival (gum) health. The newer powered toothbrushes have bristles that move in ways that would be difficult, if not impossible, to duplicate manually. If you are not sure how good a job you are doing keeping your teeth clean, ask your dentist or dental hygienist.

Proper nutrition good for gum health

Most periodontists-dental professionals specializing in gum disease-recommend calcium supplements and multivitamins for patients who are not getting adequate amounts from their diet. Research shows that people who consume inadequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D have higher rates of periodontal disease, and many other nutrients likely play a role in maintaining good periodontal health. Conversely, some foods are best avoided to maintain healthy gums. A leading culprit is popcorn, whose husks can get caught between the teeth and gums and cause abscesses.

Lower your risk for oral cancer

Smoking and the use of smokeless and spit tobacco and alcohol are the most important risk factors in cancer of the oral cavity and oropharynx (the part of the throat just behind the mouth). Quitting tobacco and alcohol significantly lowers your risk of developing these cancers, even after many years of abuse. Oral irritation (such as dentures that do not fit properly) may also increase your risk for oral cancer. If you have a lesion or mouth sore that does not go away within two weeks, ask your dentist to perform a biopsy to check the lesion.

Dental sealants not just for kids

The potential for tooth decay begins early in life, so children and teenagers are obvious candidates for dental sealant-a plastic, professionally applied material that is put on the chewing surfaces of back teeth to prevent cavities. But certain adults at high risk for tooth decay can benefit from sealants, as well. Sealants provide a physical barrier so that cavity-causing bacteria cannot invade the pits and fissures on the chewing surfaces of teeth.

COPYRIGHT 2005 National Women’s Health Resource Center

COPYRIGHT 2007 Gale Group