Dental needs can easily be divided into two categories. There is disease that is caused by bacteria and function. I am amazed at how many patients seem to point to us the clinician as the causative factor when we tell them they have something wrong. But in reality, most individuals have significant control over their own dental breakdown and issues.
First off, if you want to save your teeth a lifetime, BRUSH THEM. Bacteria cause approximately 50% of our dental issues. Our mouths are full of a multitude of microbes. These microbes use the food and liquids we introduce to our mouths to feed them. Upon digesting the food we give them, they produce byproducts in much the same way we do. These byproducts often are very acidic, and thus dissolve our teeth and or cause gum disease by creating a host immune response. Also, our teeth develop a biofilm where these bacteria colonize and live. If you have your teeth professionally cleaned, the film will return in about 48 hours. After you brush your teeth at home, the film will return in about 12 hours! So for those of you who brush once a day, you are loosing the battle! Also, keep processed sugars you ingest to a minimum and do not drink soda or citrus drinks in excess. These are not only bad for our teeth and gums; they are bad for our physical well being as many health issues can be related to these products and the obesity they create.
The second most common negative influence on our teeth is abnormal function. This can be caused by tooth size/skeletal size discrepancies, loss of teeth, shifting of teeth, grinding your teeth, or clenching. The abnormal forces on the teeth created by these issues create wear, chipping, mobility, fracture, supporting structure breakdown, joint breakdown, muscle pain and eventual loss of teeth. Your mouth is a system and the teeth, muscles and joints are closely related in function. If the alignment of your mouth is incorrect, teeth will wear, your joints will break down, and the more dysfunction you may have. Since we are living longer, these abnormal functional forces become more significant in the loss of your dentition. A highly trained dentist or dental hygienist will help you recognize these issues and can use preventative or corrective treatments to minimize the effects of this functional breakdown.
So, it is really up to you how much dental work you will need over time. Your best bet is to use an electric toothbrush, brush 2-3 times a day, floss, and use mouth rinse-containing fluoride. If you have sore teeth, muscles or joints, tell the dental team. It really is that simple.