This topic provides information on basic dental care. If you are looking for information on tooth decay or cavities, see the topic Tooth Decay. If you are looking for information on gum disease (periodontal disease), see the topic Gum Disease.
What is basic dental care?
Basic dental care involves brushing and flossing your teeth regularly, seeing your dentist and/or dental hygienist for regular checkups and cleanings, and eating a mouth-healthy diet, which means foods high in whole grains, vegetables and fruits, and dairy products.
Are there ways to avoid dental problems?
Keeping your teeth and gums healthy requires good nutrition and regular brushing and flossing.
Brush your teeth twice a day-in the morning and before bed-and floss once a day. This removes plaque, which can lead to damaged teeth, gums, and surrounding bone.
Use a toothpaste that contains fluoride, which helps prevent tooth decay and cavities. Ask your dentist if you need a mouthwash that contains fluoride or one with ingredients that fight plaque. Look for toothpastes that have been approved by the American Dental Association.
Avoid foods that contain a lot of sugar. Sugar helps plaque grow.
As the nation begins to focus its attention on the prospects of major health care reforms, one important aspect of health must not be overlooked -- access to affordable dental care for children. If left untreated, tooth decay in childhood can lead to lifelong tooth and gum problems, hospitalizations and emergency room visits, delayed physical development and loss of school days.
A new report released reveals that nearly 12 million children in the United States experience serious barriers to getting much needed dental care due to lack of insurance coverage, cost of care and difficulty finding providers who accept their insurance.
"In this poll, we wanted to understand the patterns of dental care for children," says Matthew Davis, M.D., M.A.P.P., director of the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health. "We asked parents how they access dental health services: whether they had problems accessing services, how often they took their children to the dentist, and whether they experienced barriers to receiving that care."
The poll found that 57 percent of parents say their children began going to the dentist by age 3, and that 82 percent receive regular dental care, defined by going to the dentist at least once per year.