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Preventive oral hygiene includes regular checkups and cleanings to remove plaque and tartar that build up on teeth even with dedicated daily care.

Rotten teeth, tooth decay, and gum diseases like gingivitis or periodontitis are usually the result of poor oral care. These health conditions cost far more to repair than to prevent.

You may not be able to kill two birds with one stone, but when it comes to oral health there is one very simple and affordable thing you can do to avoid these serious – and potentially expensive – problems. That is: take preventive oral hygiene seriously.

Tooth decay and gum diseases get their start with a substance called plaque. Preventive oral hygiene includes daily efforts to eliminate plaque and prevent its build up. It also includes regular checkups and professional cleanings to remove plaque and tartar that can build up on teeth despite dedicated daily care.

What is plaque?

Plaque is the name for a sticky and translucent substance that is constantly being produced by our mouths. The bacteria in plaque consume sugars that are contained in various types of food. This creates acids that attack the surface of the teeth and toxins that may attack the bone beneath the gums.

The acids assault tooth enamel for 20 or more minutes after you have sugary food or beverages. Eventually, the acids may begin to destroy the enamel, which is how tooth decay gets a foothold, so to speak.

Plaque can also penetrate below the gum line, where the toxins can threaten the underlying bone.

Plaque can also penetrate below the gum line, where the toxins can threaten the underlying bone. The result is gingivitis or periodontitis. Obviously, neither situation – a rotten tooth or poor gum health – is high on anyone’s wish list.

Treatments and costs

Not least among the reasons for avoiding tooth decay or gum disease is the expense involved in treatment. In either case, treatment options depend on the severity of the problem, and as the severity mounts, so do the costs for professional care.

…as the severity mounts, so do the costs for professional care.

Milder cases of tooth decay may be treated by simply using a fluoride-based treatment. If cavities have developed, however, a filling will be required. More severe cases may require that a dentist fit the tooth with a crown, perform a root canal operation, or even pull the tooth altogether.

Gum disease is likewise increasingly more expensive to deal with the longer it is ignored or left undiagnosed and allowed to progress. If a milder case of gum disease is caught in time, patients may be able to simply brush and floss their way back to optimal health. More serious cases will require professional cleaning by a dental hygienist to get rid of built up plaque. A severe case of gum disease may require antibiotics or even surgery.

Preventing tooth decay and gum disease

Repair or prevent? Well, we think it’s a “no brainer” – but then, consider the source

If you really need any more convincing, try plugging the phrases “Oral Conditions and Diseases” or “Tooth Conditions and Disorders” into your browsers’ search bar and see what images come up. YUCKA!!!

But, if you’re already convinced about the power of prevention – and could use a brush up on oral care basics – check out this overview of basic dental care in our blog archives.

While you’re at it, why not call to schedule your next dental checkup?

Happy flossing!

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In case you hadn’t heard, November is Good Nutrition Month. Hot on the heels of Halloween and with holiday parties and feasts in clear view, what better time to showcase the nutrients and food sources that support good dental health? After all, it’s no secret that oral health — the state of one’s mouth, teeth and gums — is directly related to overall health.

The vitamins and minerals we need for good teeth

To understand the link between diet and dental health, let’s zoom in to the micro level and look at the vitamins and minerals that are essential for healthy teeth and gums.

First, what vitamins are good for teeth? Of course, there are more than three, but vitamins A, C and D are widely recognized as key essential nutrients for dental health.

Vitamin A    

Vitamins good for teeth

The nutrients and vitamins that are good for teeth are found in many delicious foods.

While there are essential differences, the materials found in teeth and bones share many similarities. It’s because of the similarities that the bone-building nutrient vitamin A also helps boost tooth health.

To get more vitamin A, you can turn to both animal and plant-based sources. On the animal side, foods like milk, eggs, and liver are good sources of vitamin A. Bright orange fruits and vegetables (think sweet potatoes, butternut squash, carrots, cantaloupe, dried apricots and the like) and deep green leafy veggies (kale, spinach, dandelion greens, and so on) provide vitamin A as well.

Healthy eating never needs to be bland. Some herbs and spices also contain vitamin A. For example, parsley, oregano, and dill are relatively rich in this important nutrient, as are the spices paprika and cayenne. So go ahead: spice it up – your teeth may actually thank you.

Vitamin C 

Vitamin C helps the body maintain healthy teeth and gums from the inside out. It is essential to normal growth and development. Fortunately, this essential nutrient for dental health is available in nearly all fruits and vegetables.

Fruits with the highest sources of vitamin C include cantaloupe, oranges, grapefruit, kiwis, mangos, strawberries, and papaya. Vegetables that are unusually high in vitamin C include broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, leafy greens, sweet potatoes, and squash.

Vitamin D

Probably the most widely recognized nutrient for healthy teeth and bones is calcium – which we’ll look at in more detail later. While we’re on the topic of vitamins, though – did you know that your body cannot absorb calcium without vitamin D? That’s just one reason why vitamin D is so important to good dental health. Here’s another: vitamin D has been shown to be an anti-inflammatory agent as well as an important nutrient in helping to prevent cavities.

Vitamin D can be found in a number of food sources. Some of the best natural sources of vitamin D are eggs, button and shitake mushrooms, and a variety of fish including salmon, mackerel, catfish, sardines, and tuna. Unlike the other nutrients our bodies need to stay healthy, vitamin D can be acquired through exposure to sunshine. Which means a walk in the sunshine can actually help improve a smile in more ways than one.

In addition to vitamins, teeth need minerals to be optimally healthy…


In addition to vitamins, teeth need minerals to be optimally healthy, and calcium is one of the most important minerals for healthy teeth. Just as bones provide a structural support for the body’s organs and tissues – the skeleton – calcium provides the external structural element of teeth.

Well known sources of calcium include dairy products (cheese, milk, yogurt), seeds and nuts (sesame and flax seeds, almonds), dark green leafy vegetables (kale, collards, mustard greens). Like Vitamin A,  some dried herbs (savory, celery seed, thyme, dill) are relatively good sources of calcium.


Together with calcium, the mineral phosphorus plays a huge role in maintaining healthy bones and teeth. In fact, neither calcium nor phosphorus can keep teeth and bones strong on their own. They both need each other to be effective.

To help ensure that there is enough phosphorus in your diet, eat foods rich in this mineral. Some great vegetable sources of phosphorus include almonds and other nuts, citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruit, cereals, grains, and beans. Animal sources of phosphorus include eggs, meat, poultry, and fish.

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Finally, there is growing evidence that the mineral magnesium plays an important role in preventing periodontal disease and protecting against cavities.

As with so many of the nutrients that can help support good dental health, magnesium can be found in dark leafy vegetables like spinach and kale. Other good sources of magnesium include cereals, dairy products, almonds, cashews, peanuts, legumes, and fruits such as bananas, raisins, and figs.

Eat your way to oral health 

In the end, the foods we consume every day can be as important to our oral health as regular brushing, flossing, and dental checkups. With a little planning, it can be easy to choose delicious foods that are great sources of the essential nutrients for good oral health.

To discover more ways to include a healthy variety of tooth-friendly foods in your diet, start a conversation with your dentist or dental hygienist, or kick off a discussion by entering your comment below!

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