While some infections can be relatively harmless or go away on their own, dental infections can lead to hospitalization if left untreated. What starts as a toothache can have the potential to derail your day-to-day life, but good hygiene habits and regular dental visits can go a long way to preventing those hefty hospital bills and a lot of pain. Here’s what you need to know about preventing dental infections.
Most of us have heard of cavities, or permanently damaged areas in the hard surface of a tooth. Common treatments for these include fillings, crowns and root canals. But if you don’t get to a dentist in time, small cavities can grow into larger ones and even become infections. The resulting pain can have a big impact on your daily life, causing problems getting proper nutrition and putting you at risk for infections developing in your body. If you’re feeling tooth pain, it’s a good idea to call a dentist right away. If money is tight, some clinics like Community Health Partners offer reduced cost based on your income.
But the best way to deal with tooth infections is to prevent them in the first place. Instead of racking up hospital bills, see your dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings, and take other key steps to prevent infection. Here’s how to steer clear of these issues with preventative measures.
We’ve all heard it: brushing your teeth twice each day is the standard for a healthy mouth. Be sure to incorporate that into your routine. And you’ll want to take your time, too. The American Dental Association recommends brushing for two minutes each time. Find your favorite song that’s two minutes long, and brush gently but thoroughly.
When you’ve already brushed your teeth and have a clean-feeling mouth, flossing might not be top priority. But flossing is key to getting bacteria and food scraps out from between your teeth. Use a fresh strand of about 18 inches each time, hold it tight between your pointer finger and your thumb, and run it up the whole length of your tooth. Get under the gumline, but don’t snap the floss over your gum.
It’s easy to let life get in the way of those minor tasks like remembering to grab a new toothbrush at the store. But replacing worn brushes (or brush heads, if you use an electric toothbrush) will help keep your mouth fresh. Bacteria builds up over time on the brush, and continuing to use it will just spread that infection-causing bacteria around your mouth. When is it time to swap out your brush? A good rule of thumb is every three months, or when the bristles start to fray.
If you remember hearing as a kid that all that sugary Halloween candy or holiday treats would rot your teeth, don’t panic. That’s not quite true. The sugar itself doesn’t rot your teeth, but it does provide tasty food for the bacteria living in your mouth. When those bacteria are happy and fed, they celebrate by eating away at the hard outer layer of your teeth. That’s what causes cavities. Reducing your sugar intake can be a great first step for oral—and full-body—health. If you need to indulge in something sweet, try to limit it to once a day rather than throughout the day, and swish with water afterward – or better yet, brush your teeth after.
Dental cleanings get in there deep, clearing out plaque—a sticky layer of bacteria that holds on to the outside of your teeth. And exams can catch cavities early, setting you up with fillings fast before issues develop into full-blown dental infections.
Don’t let finances keep you from finding the dental care you need to live a healthy and happy life. You may be eligible for cost assistance through CHP's sliding fee scale. Dental clinics in Bozeman and Livingston offer comprehensive care, with dental exams, x-rays, cleanings, fillings, extractions and preventative care. Get in touch to make your appointment for oral health.