When you buy a new car, you get an owner's manual that tells you when to change the oil, how much air to put in the tires, and how often to service the brakes, among other important details about routine maintenance. When it comes to our teeth, however, we are not always as conscientious about following maintenance schedules--and our oral health suffers as a result.
"Every child and most adults should be given an operator's manual for dental care," says dentist Ami Barakat, author of Perfecting Smiles, Changing Lives: Your Guide to an Exceptional Dental Experience. Too many people have no idea how to maintain good dental health."
If there were an owner's manual for dental care, here are a few things Barakat believes it should include:
* Basic routine maintenance. "Everybody has heard about brushing and flossing, but not enough people actually floss or know the proper way to do it. The four most-common flossing mistakes are flossing too often, moving too quickly, missing both sides of the tooth, and quitting at the sign of Weeding gums."
* It is not just the mouth. 'Too many people think dentists worry only about cavities and the smile. In...