What is ‘active maintenance’ in oral health?

You might have heard the phrase thrown around, but you have never gotten around to finding out exactly what it is. Active maintenance is actually the most important factor in determining your oral health. The best part? If you’re brushing, flossing, using mouthwash and visiting your dentist regularly, you’re already doing it! Although genetics, environment and dietary factors can play a role in your oral health, the biggest contributors are your dentist and YOU!

What is active maintenance?

The point of active maintenance is to use preventative measures to maintain oral health and prevent potential oral health issues from arising, rather than addressing them once they appear. For example, when you floss, you are actively maintaining the spaces between the teeth to prevent plaque build-up and the subsequent cavities. This means you spend as little time as possible in the dental chair, as prevention is truly better than the cure!

Now that you know what active maintenance is, you can breathe a sigh of relief. It is far easier to do when you understand it! Maintaining a proper oral health routine is all it takes. Although most of us believe that we maintain a good oral health, it is usually the opposite. While brushing twice per day “almost every day” and flossing “every other day” is better than nothing, it might not be enough to prevent oral health issues from arising.  

Complete active maintenance of your oral health includes:

  • Brushing your teeth TWICE per day, for at least two minutes, using proper technique and pressure, and reaching all surfaces of each tooth.
  • Flossing at least ONCE per day, gently moving the string between each tooth to remove trapped food and debris.
  • Eating mindfully! That means thinking about the foods that might damage or stain your teeth and limiting their consumption or managing their risk. This includes things like sweets or hard foods.
  • Visiting your dentist at least once every six months for a regular check-up and clean. This not only removes any plaque build-up, it ensures that professional eyes are regularly looking over your mouth for signs of any problem areas.

Doing this already? Congratulations! You have been ‘unknowingly’ participating in active maintenance! You are taking all the right steps to ensure that your teeth remain in top condition for as long as possible.

How does my dentist play a role in active maintenance?

Your dentist cannot be with you to watch you brush your teeth every day and ensure that you are doing it correctly and cleaning all of the hard-to-reach areas. Their only opportunity to check if you have been properly maintaining your oral health is when you visit the clinic for your regular six-monthly check-up and clean, which is precisely why these appointments are so important.

Although some people take the same approach to their check-up and clean appointments as some teens would with cleaning their bedroom (“why – it’ll just get dirty again!”), the importance of a check-up and clean should not be underestimated. Not only can it remove plaque build-up, get to the hard-to-reach places and polish the surface of the teeth, it also can give your dentist a clear indication of the condition of your teeth and enables them to establish treatment plan promptly, should it be needed.

Active maintenance not only can have a positive effect on your health, it can also have a positive effect on your wallet! Preventative measures (as simple as a thorough oral health care routine) are significantly less expensive than needing to undergo restorative treatments later down the track (like fillings or root canal.)

To find out more about our general dentistry treatments, including check-up and cleans, or to book an appointment, please don’t hesitate to contact our friendly team today!