Staying Healthy During Challenging Times

Preventive dental care is always important, even more so in these days of uncertainty. Below are recommendations for ways to keep yourself healthy and least likely to develop dental issues:

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Use fluoride toothpaste to remove food particles and plaque from the tooth surfaces. Also be sure to brush the top surface of your tongue; this will remove any extra plaque-causing food particles, and help keep your breath fresh!
  • Our team at Anna V O'Keefe DMD PA have consistently seen our patients get better results with electric toothbrushes than with manual ones. Please see below for an explanatory video, but as Dr. O'Keefe often phrases it: a manual toothbrush is like a broom, and electric toothbrush is like a vacuum because it has more bristles strokes per second. It is simply easier to do a more thorough job when using an electric toothbrush for at least two minutes, after breakfast and before bed.
  • Clean between your teeth at least once a day. Toothbrush bristles just can't reach everywhere. Flossing is typically the most inexpensive and straightforward way to clean between your teeth, but talking with Dr O'Keefe and/or your hygienist will allow us to make more specific recommendations for your anatomy, condition and dexterity. Floss and mouthwash will help remove plaque and food particles from between the teeth and under the gum line, thereby preventing decay and bone loss.
  • Eat a balanced diet, and try to avoid extra-sugary treats. Nutritious foods such as raw vegetables, plain yogurt, cheese, or fruit can help keep your smile healthy.
  • The longer sugar is on a tooth, the greater the chance a cavity will develop. This is because sugars turn to acid in the mouth, which in turn destroys the minerals in your enamel.
    • Sticky and crumbly foods stay on your teeth longer and therefore hold acids to the surface, creating mineral loss and potentially cavities. Try to limit foods like sticky candies, dried fruits, granola/energy bars (including Lara and Clif bars), crackers, chips and cookies. If you choose to eat these foods, try to have them at mealtimes. This limits the time of exposure and is also when you're producing more saliva, which can dilute the acid.
    • Plain water is the best drink any time of day, but particularly between meals. Sugars, citric acid, and carbonation all create a very acidic environment in the mouth which leads to mineral loss. This includes seltzer water, even unsweetened. Coffee or tea that has milk (cow or alternative), lemon, honey, or sugar, have an acidic pH. Most sodas, including diet sodas, contain some combination of sugars, citric acid and carbonic acid (carbonation). Therefore, limit these to mealtimes, do not sip on them, and make sure these drinks are consumed in less than 20 minutes.
  • Remember to schedule regular checkups with your dentist every six months for a professional teeth cleaning.
  • Ask your dentist about dental sealants, protective plastic coatings that can be applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth where decay often starts.
  • If you play sports, be sure to ask your dentist about special mouthguards designed to protect your smile.
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