Tips For A Great Dental Check-Up

Worried about your next dental checkup? Follow these tips for a great score the next time you visit the dentist.

No one enjoys a dentist visit. Anxiety mounts as we take a seat in the examination chair and prepare for a metal assault that is sure to be awkward if not painful.

But what a relief it is to get up from the chair smiling after a six-month check-up: no cavities! Your gums looking healthy and teeth gleaming intact, you leave with a new toothbrush, satisfied by your positive evaluation.

Choosing the second scenario may mean a shift in dental hygiene habits. If you're used to a quick brush each morning and night, maybe it's time to add another step or two that can keep your smile bright and your teeth strong. Here are a few tips that you might get from a dental hygienist:

1. Brush for two minutes morning and night. You needn't do it quickly or harshly, just take your time to make circular sweeps of each tooth (front and back), the gum areas, and your tongue. Replace your toothbrush every three to six months, as bristles can get worn and bacteria may multiply. Some dentists suggest using a brush with a clear handle that allows light to pass through and prevent bacterial build-up. Store your brush in a container or away from the toilet area, where each flush pushes millions of germs into the air, allowing them to settle on surfaces like your toothbrush. Ask your dentist if you should use a soft, medium, or hard brush, and which slant is best for your mouth.

2. Use dental support tools at home. Floss your teeth after brushing; many experts recommend it also after eating. Unwrap about six inches of floss, wrapping either end around each index finger. Move it gently up and down between all of your teeth to remove debris. Discard the used floss when finished. You may want to consider waxed or flavored floss.

3. Include dental rinses. Fluoride, peroxide, anti-plaque products, whiteners, and mouth wash can enhance the condition and appearance of your teeth. Ask your dentist about recommended brands and their proper use for each family member.

4. Rinse after eating. If you can't brush at work or school or while dining in a public restaurant, rinse your mouth with water to get rid of bacteria, debris, and substances that form plaque.

5. Get dental checkups and cleanings twice a year. During your visit you may need x-rays to check on the condition of your teeth below the gum line or to observe the development of possible decay or shifting teeth. Your teeth will be checked for decay and cavities, and you will receive a thorough cleaning, along with plaque removal. Neglecting these visits may lead to tooth erosion and loss, as well as gum disease, which can contribute in some cases to other health problems like heart disease.

Take care of your teeth and they will take care of you, allowing you to bite into a juicy steak or pulpy vegetables into your senior years. And your anxiety level can be ratcheted down a notch or two at your next six-month checkup.

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