Keeping your mouth healthy goes beyond simply remembering to brush twice a day. Many other factors– including your diet and certain lifestyle choices– influence the health of your teeth and gums. Maintaining your oral health is about much more than having a glowing, white smile; oral health is linked to the body’s overall health. In fact, studies show that poor dental health– and particularly gum disease– can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. So, in addition to regular brushing and flossing, what can you do to ensure that your teeth and gums are in good shape? Consider the following tips:
Toss your toothbrush. Your toothbrush isn’t meant to be a tool that you hang onto for the long haul. In fact, keeping your toothbrush for more than a few months might do more harm than good. For starters, the bristles become worn and frayed over time, thus lessening their effectiveness. Bacteria– including E. coli and Staph– makes itself at home on your toothbrush, too. So, every three to four months, toss your toothbrush in the trash and replace it with a fresh one. If the thought of replacing your more expensive, electric toothbrush every few months makes you cringe, fear not: you can simply buy replacement heads for most electric toothbrushes.
Fluoride is your friend. When it comes to cavity protection, fluoride– which is a natural mineral found in the earth’s crust and throughout nature — is your best friend. Why? Fluoride strengthens the tooth’s enamel, making it more resistant to acid attacks that lead to decay. Fluoride can also help to reverse tooth decay in its earliest stages. You should always choose a fluoridated toothpaste and brush twice a day. Additionally, water supplies often contain a fluoride addition; thus, when given the choice, opt for tap water over bottled water.
Don’t neglect your tongue. If you think you’ve done your part to ensure that your smile is fresh and healthy after brushing your teeth, you better think again. One of the most common oral health mistakes adults make is neglecting the tongue. That’s right: your tongue needs brushing, too. That’s because bacteria builds up on the tongue, leading to halitosis– more commonly known as bad breath. So, remember to brush your tongue every morning, either with a toothbrush or a tongue scraper– both of which can be found at your local drug store.
Be mindful of your snacking. It’s no secret that sugary foods and beverages can wreak havoc on your oral health. However, how often you’re eating matters just as much as what you’re eating. If you’re a compulsive snacker, for example, food particles likely sit on your teeth all throughout the day. This leads to the development of dental plaque, which is a sticky film containing millions of bacteria. When not removed by brushing and flossing, the bacteria in plaque lead to tooth decay. So, if you snack frequently throughout the day, aim to brush your teeth or chew a sugarless gum after each indulgence.
Don’t wait for pain. Skipping dental appointments simply because you don’t have a toothache can be detrimental to your oral health. Often, dental problems– like cavities and gum disease– are initially painless. So, if you delay dental visits until you feel pain, you’ve likely waited too long and allowed progression of the underlying cause of your discomfort. Progression almost always means more extensive– and expensive– restorative treatments, so don’t put off your regularly scheduled dentist appointments!
Remember: an important part of maintaining your oral health is visiting your dentist twice a year for professional cleanings and check-ups. Contact us today to learn how we can help you achieve your healthiest smile!Return to Blog