5 Preventive Tips for Avoiding the Dentist

5 Preventive Tips for Avoiding the Dentist

I love seeing patients in my dental practice, but let's be honest — most people would rather avoid having to see me. Here are some tips on preventative measures you can take to ensure the best oral health possible and to avoid unwanted dental visits:

1. Floss

Flossing isn't just something that dentists like nagging people about. It really does work in preventing cavities and gum disease. The problem is that floss tends to live in the back of our bathroom drawer, out of sight and out of mind. My advice to patients is to buy Plackers brand flossers (in my experience they are the best) and put them in one of those cute little canisters you keep Q-tips and cotton balls in by the sink. That way you see them and remember! Floss every day, by the way.

2. Get an electric toothbrush

In my professional opinion, this is simply best tool available for removing plaque and preventing cavities. Plus your teeth feel great after using it! It's what I use and what my family uses (they make a kids one that is great as well).

3. Wear your night guard

It's amazing how much tooth damage and wear due to clenching and grinding I see daily. Wear damage to teeth can be extensive and require expensive dental work to repair. It also can have adverse effects on the TMJ (temporomandibular joint) and musculature of the jaw, leading to headaches. A night guard is inexpensive compared to the cost of fixing broken or worn-down teeth or treating the TMJ.

You can buy night guards over the counter, but the ones that the dentist makes, while more expensive, typically fit better and last longer. Regardless of where you get it, if your dentist tells you that you need a night guard, get one and wear it.

4. Take control of your diet

Don’t be too quick to blame genetics (good 'ol mom and pop) for the condition of your teeth. It's our modern diet, featuring sugar and refined carbohydrates, that bears most of the blame. Very simply, if you limit the amount of sugar and refined carbs in your diet you will decrease your risk for dental decay.

5. Get your teeth professionally cleaned twice a year

Preventing unnecessary dental visits doesn’t mean you should avoid the dental office entirely. You need to have your teeth professionally cleaned and examined. The dental hygienist can thoroughly clean your teeth and gums much better than you can, and remove things such as calculus (plaque that hardens around your teeth) that even the best at-home oral hygiene can't tackle.

Also, dental problems that are detected early can be treated less invasively, with less discomfort (and at a lower cost).

If you haven't been to the dentist in a while it's time to give one a call and come in for a cleaning and exam. I promise we don't bite (at least I don't).

About this Experts Contributor: Dr. C. Ryan Oakley is the owner of Spring Creek Dentistry, providing dental care services in the greater Houston area. Spring Creek Dentistry is a recipient of the 2013 Angie's List Super Service Award.

As of November 17, 2014, this service provider was highly rated on Angie's List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angie's List for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie's List.

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