But natural teeth can be preserved only by daily oral-hygiene habits and regular dental check-ups.
During the teen years, careful supervision by the dentist and cooperation from the teenager are especially necessary. Among general rules to follow between dental check-ups are using fluorides, maintaining proper diet, and removing debris from the teeth by brushing and by the use of dental floss.
Flourides are particularly important for strengthening the enamel of teeth in persons under the age of 15. Many communities add fluorides to the water supply, but if the substance is not available in the drinking water, the dentist can advise the patient about other ways of add fluoride to water or other fluids consumed each day.
Although a good diet for total health should provide all of the elements needed for dental health, several precautions on sugars and starches should be added. Hard or sticky sweets should be avoided.
Such highly refined sweets as soft drinks, candies, cakes, cookies, pies, syrups, jams, jellies, and pastries should be limited, especially between meals. One’s intake of starchy foods such as bread, potatoes, and pastas, should also be controlled.
Natural sugars contained in fresh fruits can provide sweet flavors with less risk of contributing to decay if the teeth are brushed regularly after eating such foods.
Brushing the teeth is an essential of personal oral hygiene. Such brushing rids the mouth of most of the food debris that encourages bacterial growth, which is most intense 20 minutes after eating.
Therefore, the teeth should be cleaned as soon as possible after a meal. Begin by brushing the tops of the upper and lower molars, using a scrubbing motion without much pressure. A soft toothbrush with a straight handle is most recommended.
Next, keeping the brush parallel to the teeth, angle the bristles against the lower gums and brush back and forth with short strokes against both sides of every tooth. Use the same technique for the upper teeth. Apply the tip of the brush to the backs of upper and lower front teeth. Scrub in an up-and-down motion holding the brush handle until directly out in front.
But brushing often does not clean debris from between the teeth. Plaque and food particles that stick between the teeth usually can be removed with dental floss. A generous length of floss, about 18 inches is needed to do an effective job.
The ends can be wrapped several times around the first joint of the middle finger of each hand. Using the thumbs or index fingers, the floss is inserted between the teeth with a gentle, sawing, back-and-forth motion. The mouth should be rinsed with water afterwards.