Getting a dental checkup at least twice a year is critical to maintaining a healthy smile. Taking care of your teeth when you are not at the dentist is extremely important as well. Finding an effective, daily dental routine that works for you is the best way to improve your dental health. Use these 8 simple tips to help give your smile the boost it deserves!
1. Floss More
Daily flossing helps prevent tooth decay and gingivitis by removing hard to reach food particles and plaque from between teeth as well as out from under the gumlines while its still soft. If you allow this debris to stay on your teeth, bacteria will increase feeding off your teeth while you sleep. If plaque is not removed, it will harden and turn to tarter, which can only be removed by a hygienist or dentist. Plaque and tarter build up under the surface of the gumlines potentially contributing to periodontal disease, which leads to bone destruction and tooth loss.
Flossing daily can stop gum bleeding associated with mild to moderate gingivitis after about two weeks. If you can’t stand regular flossing, try a WaterPik – which removes plaque and food particles with water.
Stay proactive! Use about 18-inches of floss – switching to a fresh section every few teeth so you don’t reinsert bacteria you just removed. Gently slide floss up and down under the gumlines 2-3 times making sure to rub the floss against your teeth in a C-shape.
2. Don't Neglect Your Tongue
Cleaning the surface of your tongue once or twice daily using a toothbrush or tongue scrapper helps banish countless bacteria living on the rougher top surface of your tongue and also keeps your breath smelling fresh.
It’s pretty easy too! Simply stick out your tongue and reach to the back of it. Gently apply pressure and scrape outward to the tip. Rinse off the scraper, or toothbrush, after each pass to avoid redepositing bacteria back on your tongue. If your gag reflex is giving you trouble, try humming to distract yourself. You can also try not extending your tongue as far.
3. Avoid Carbonated Drinks
Soft drink consumption is one of several leading causes of tooth decay. Carbonation, sugar and acids weaken tooth enamel and encourage growth of bacteria that contribute to tooth decay. Sugar in soda combines with bacteria in your mouth to form acid. This acid, along with additional acid found in these drinks, attacks your teeth. Each acid attack last approximately 20 minutes and starts over with every sip – weakening enamel and allowing cavities to start to form.
Diet, or “sugar-free” carbonated drinks still has acid that harms teeth. Please drink all carbonated drinks in moderation. Use a straw to minimize contact with your teeth. Rinse your mouth with water after drinking any carbonated drink. Avoid drinking these beverages before bedtime. Soft drinks aren’t a healthy choice; however, they are a popular one. If you have to drink carbonated beverages, do it in moderation and please protect your teeth when enjoying them.
4. Start with Your Back Teeth First
It’s easy to brush your front teeth. But, it’s even easier to forget to brush your back teeth – especially when you’re in a hurry. Focusing on your back teeth first will ensure that you won’t forget them even when you’re in a rush. Take your time and try to get every area you can. Bacteria can easily hid in your back teeth areas.
5. Replace Your Toothbrush Every 3-4 Months
Clinical research shows a new toothbrush removes more plaque and bacteria than a worn one. After normal wear and tear, your toothbrush becomes frayed and is much less effective. Once bristles wear away with use, your toothbrush becomes just like a knife with jagged edges, which can damage gums as well as tooth structure. Because children usually brush more intensely than adults, you may need to replace their toothbrushes more often. So, please replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months, or sooner if bristles are frayed. Also, remember that it is important to change your toothbrush if you are sick or not feeling well.
6. Use Mouthwash Daily
Mouthwash should never replace a regular oral hygiene routine of daily flossing and twice-daily brushing. When used in addition to tooth brushing and flossing, oral rinses can reduce plaque and signs of gingivitis. Read the label when using mouthwash to make sure you are using it correctly. Most mouthwashes recommend swishing the product vigorously for 30 seconds to 1 minute before spitting it out. To receive the most benefit, avoid drinking or eating anything for at least 30 minutes after use.
Mouthwash containing cetylpyridinium chloride helps to ward off gum disease by fighting bacteria; whereas, a fluoride mouthwash helps to prevent tooth decay. Alcohol-based mouthwashes tend to dry out your mouth. Ask your dentist which type of mouthwash is best for you.
7. Eat a Healthy, Balanced Diet
Besides brushing and flossing, our diets play a major role in keeping teeth and gums healthy. Diets lacking enough Vitamin C can cause severe dental issues like bleeding gums, loose teeth as well as lowering your body’s ability to fight off plaque. Reach for foods rich in Vitamin C – like leafy vegetables, strawberries, kale, or oranges – to help prevent this. Hard, crunchy foods containing a lot of water – like raw fruits and vegetables – help produce more saliva, which is the best natural neutralizer of cavity-causing bacteria. Dairy has calcium while red meats, nuts and pumpkin seeds have phosphates. Calcium and phosphates are elemental building blocks of enamel and help to keep teeth strong by remineralizing them. Foods like apples, raisins and berries contain antioxidants that fight bacteria that cause inflammation and periodontal disease.
Besides eating the right foods, staying away from certain foods also have major dental benefits. Avoid carb-heavy foods that are sticky and high in sugar. These kinds of foods encourage cavities and tooth decay.
8. Suspect a Problem? Take Care of It ASAP!
Visit your dentist regularly to stay on top of your oral health. A professional cleaning will reach places that you cannot get to during your daily dental hygiene routine. The visit will also allow your dentist to catch decay in its earliest, most treatable stages. You may be tempted to ‘wait and see’ – but the longer you wait, the more expensive the treatment may be to correct the problem. Seek professional dental help as soon as possible if you think you have an oral health issue.
If you notice something is not right, please give us a call at (815) 946-3848.