There’s a silly dentistry cartoon of an open mouth, tongue sticking out, with little teeth characters marching out on the tongue. The punchline is, “Were outta here!” Clearly, because the owner of said mouth failed to take good care of the teeth and gums. Before yours decide to uproot and look for a healthier habitat, mind these top 5 tips for healthy bone and gum tissue:
- Brush and floss. You’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times — effective oral hygiene is the foundation of healthy bone and gums, not to mention a beautiful smile. Floss and brush twice a day to keep out plaque and prevent the gingivitis and gum disease that develop from plaque build-up.
- Get a professional dental cleaning every four to six months. It’s a fact that no matter how well you floss and brush, calculus will form in tough to reach areas. Calculus is a hard, white build-up that you may not even be able to see. So see your dentist regularly for a good cleaning and check-up.
- Get a bone graft or implant if you lose a tooth. No matter how you lose a tooth — it gets knocked out during sports or your dentist extracts it for health reasons — the bone surrounding it will shrink through a normal remodeling process. Once that bone is gone, it’s tough to get it back. The best way to prevent bone loss is to have your surgeon place bone graft material at the same time as an extraction or place the implant in a timely fashion (typically 2-3 months after extraction). This type of grafting done at the time of tooth loss is easy, painless, and much cheaper than doing it later. (And don’t worry, surgeons can use different inds of bone graft materials — they don’t take it from your own bone.)
- Get an immediate implant if possible. Don’t wait if you need to replace a tooth; when you get an immediate implant on the same day as an extraction, you’ll help preserve the bone and save it from shrinkage. But you should know that immediate implants are not for everyone and only work under proper circumstances. So always ask your surgeon if an immediate implant can work for you.
- Restore decayed teeth and treat early gum disease — early. As tooth decay progresses, it can reach the nerve, causing it to become inflamed and then necrotic, often leading to an abscess and bone loss. Early gum disease (gingivitis) can also cause periodontal disease which leads to bone loss. To keep your bone healthy, be sure to restore decayed teeth and treat gum disease as soon as possible.
The bottom line? If you take care of your teeth, gums, and bone, they’ll be very likely to return the favor with a lifetime of oral health, comfortable chewing, and pleasant smiles.