Dental care for adults: cleanings, diseases, and prostheses
Everyone is unique. So it can be hard to figure out what good tooth care means as an adult. Our hygienists often get questions about how to protect your teeth, what foods to avoid, and how to take care of implants. Here’s our guide to the different issues you might face as an adult aiming for optimal dental hygiene.
The inside skinny on dental care for adults
- As an adult, you need to follow a few basic rules for a healthy mouth:
- Brush your teeth regularly: 2-3 times a day for 3 minutes each time,
- Have regular check-ups by a dental hygienist to detect any issues like gum disease or cavities,
- Get your teeth cleaned annually,
- Maintain a balanced, low-sugar diet.
What does keeping your mouth healthy actually mean?
A healthy mouth has pink gums, with no swelling or bleeding when you brush. Your oral health is very closely linked to your overall health. So good daily tooth care is important:
- brush 3 times a day, for 3 minutes each time using a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste,
- floss daily,
- and schedule regular appointments with your dentist or hygienist for a cleaning and check-up.
Toothbrushes can’t clean the contact surfaces between your teeth or the space between your teeth and gums, so those areas are at high risk of cavities and gum disease. That’s why flossing – the only way to clean those surfaces – is so important. The crevices on your tongue hold onto dead cells, dental plaque, and food particles that can only be removed by brushing or using a tongue scraper.
What should you eat to keep your mouth and teeth healthy?
A balanced diet and plenty of dairy products are essential.
- eating lots of calcium-rich foods like dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese), almonds, Brazil nuts, broccoli, and dried beans,
- eating high-fiber foods to stimulate saliva production and remove the enzymes and acids that attack your teeth, including vegetables, nuts, bananas, apples, and dried fruits like dates, raisins, and figs,
- avoiding candy and sweets like pastries,
- fruit is a great, healthy food but you will still need to limit your intake of grapefruit and lemons, which can attack your tooth enamel,
- avoiding refined carbs (white flour) in breads, cookies, and pasta – choose whole grains instead,
- avoiding soda,
- avoiding alcohol – it dehydrates you and decreases production of saliva, which removes acid from your mouth.
For more information, talk to your hygienist or visit: www.sge-ssn.ch
Your dental hygienist: a key ally for a healthy mouth
You need a dental check-up every six to twelve months to diagnose cavities and gum disease and identify other issues like damaged fillings, lesions, and bruxism.
It’s important to tell your dental hygienist about all your medical conditions, medications, allergies, and symptoms. They need that information to give you personalized advice and recommend the right treatments, preventive practices, and treatment schedule.
What is gum disease?
Gum disease attacks your gums.
It’s a stealthy problem! It is often painless in the early stages, so you may not even realize you have it. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential to keep gum inflammation (gingivitis) from progressing toward the tissue that supports your teeth (periodontitis).
Untreated periodontitis can cause bone loss and even tooth loss. Controlling gum issues is key to keeping all your teeth as you age, and can prevent gum disease from getting worse or causing complications to other diseases.
Numerous studies have shown that the microorganisms present in gum disease can migrate into your bloodstream and cause heart disease, strokes, and lung disease.
Dealing with hypersensitive teeth
Gum recession and tooth wear (attrition, abrasion, and erosion) expose the parts of your teeth where the nerve endings are less protected (cementum and dentin). That leaves your teeth extremely sensitive to heat, cold, sugar, acidity in foods like citrus, brushing, pressure, and touch.
Your teeth may also temporarily become hypersensitive after treatments like teeth cleaning or teeth whitening.
Your dental hygienist can help you identify why your teeth are hypersensitive and recommend effective solutions.
Taking care of removable dental prostheses
If you have removable dental prostheses, you will need to brush them with a soft-bristled brush after each meal. We recommend removing them for at least four hours per day, massaging your gums with a soft-bristled toothbrush, and cleaning your tongue.
Teeth whitening: a cosmetic procedure
Most surface stains caused by coffee, tea, red wine, and tobacco can be removed by a professional teeth cleaning. But if you are healthy and have healthy teeth, you can also use whitening treatments to lighten their color. Results will vary depending on the original color of your teeth and how they respond to the whitening product. Before starting a treatment, the hygienist will explain all the risks, benefits, side effects, appropriate hygiene tips, etc.
How can you prevent bad breath (halitosis)?
Halitosis, better known as bad breath, can be occasional or chronic, which means that it persists despite good tooth care habits. Hormonal changes and certain medications and medical conditions can cause bad breath. But most of the causes of bad breath are found right in your mouth, including inadequate tooth care, dental problems (cavities, abscesses, gum disease, etc.), mouth breathing, tobacco use, and certain foods.
Good daily tooth care habits, a healthy lifestyle, and professional cleanings and dental care eliminate most causes of bad breath.
Tobacco and your mouth
Are you one of the 75% of smokers who want to quit but need help? Like all medical professionals, a dental hygienist can provide support and resources if you need help quitting. And because the mouth is the first part of the body to show the negative effects of smoking, we give smokers a full update on their oral health at each visit.
More information: www.stop-tabac.ch
Learning more about oral cancer
Your risk of oral cancer increases after age 45. The other major risk factors are tobacco and alcohol use, sun exposure, an unhealthy diet, and genetics.
Mouth and throat cancers are aggressive and can be deadly if you don’t catch them early. Regularly examine the inside of your mouth and don’t skip your annual dental check-up.
Are cavities linked to cancer?
Cavities aren’t directly linked to cancer, but inadequate tooth care can create an environment where different types of cancer, including colon and liver cancer and of course mouth and throat cancers, are more likely to develop.
Ask your CHD hygienist for more information.
Can adults still have baby teeth?
Most of us lost our baby teeth between the ages of 6 and 12. But some adults do have baby teeth that never fell out, keeping their adult teeth from coming in. That means their permanent teeth are impacted in their jawbone.
And a few people never develop adult teeth, so there’s nothing to push out their baby teeth.
If you still have baby teeth as an adult, it’s important to talk to your dentist so you can have x-rays done and find the right treatment plan for you.