If you’re looking for a one-stop shop and repository for all-things oral health, then you’ve come to the right spot!
Below, we’ll break down the top ten things that you can do to boost your oral health. If you think we forgot something, leave us a comment below!
10. Examine (and potentially change) your diet
Every piece of food you eat and beverage you drink comes into contact with your teeth—obviously! Whatever you eat, then, has a very tangible effect on your teeth.
It’s not the first thing we want to read before Halloween, but it is important to prioritize eating certain foods while limiting others…when we can. For example, people who get the recommended daily amount of calcium are less likely to develop gum disease or have cavities develop.
9. Make the hard choices
Just like incorporating healthy fats, calcium and vegetables, it’s also important to cut out foods and drinks that can be harmful. This can include sugary and sticky foods that are linked to cavities and plaque buildup.
In addition to these typical offenders, making the “hard choices” can also mean things like reconsidering that second cup of coffee in the morning or that extra glass of red wine. These drinks contain color pigments called chromogens, which attach to and stain tooth enamel.
Other foods that are important to avoid (whenever you can) are the acidic foods that can affect your tooth enamel. Try eating those with a meal instead of on their own so that they’re less likely to harm your teeth. Keep in mind that acidic fruits in other forms (think lemon juice and cranberry jelly) are still acidic.
8. Drink water
This seems obvious, but drinking water is one of the best things you can do for your whole body health and your oral health. Our bodies are made of 60% water, and staying hydrated helps your system distribute healthy nutrients, gets rid of waste, gives your skin a healthy glow and keeps your muscles moving.
A specific oral health benefit that you get from drinking tap water is that it contains fluoride, considered “nature’s cavity fighter.” In addition, water helps prevent dry mouth while also cleaning your teeth and gum line. Next time you are thirsty, reach for a glass of water!
7. Don’t smoke
Many times, the first thing that you notice when someone smokes is the yellow tint to their teeth. The “yellow cooling” is caused by chemicals found in cigarettes that stain the enamel of the teeth. Enamel is one of the hardest substances in the body; however, once it’s damaged or eroded, there is no bringing it back.
Infected and receding gums are another sign of a smoker. Smokers are twice as likely to suffer from gum disease as nonsmokers. When the gums are damaged, they can pull away from the teeth and cause the bones underneath to deteriorate. Once the bones break down, it causes instability in the teeth and can cause them to become loose and fall out. This is why many smokers are lacking at least one tooth.
6. “Don’t smoke” includes no vaping
Anytime you’re inhaling a product—tobacco-laced or not—there’s the potential for harm to the mouth (not to mention the lungs). Just like with smoking traditional cigarettes, vaping leads to warmer mouth temperatures that create an environment favorable to harmful bacteria. Vaping can lead to dental decay, bone loss, and inflamed gum tissue.
5. Choose the right toothbrush
While everyone has a preference, the most important aspect of a toothbrush is correct usage. If the tool isn’t used properly, then no matter how expensive or technologically advanced it is, it is worthless.
For manual brush users, many dentists recommend small-headed, soft-bristled brushes. They are favored since they’re small enough to get behind your back teeth and the bristles don’t cause excess irritation to the gum line.
Electric toothbrushes are popular among our patients and many users feel that they are able to get their teeth cleaner more efficiently. The most important part of choosing a tooth brush is to find one that you like best and that you use properly!
4. Get better at flossing
We all know we’re supposed to floss and that it leads to better oral health outcomes, but why do so few people actually do it? Less than 40% of people admit to flossing once a day, with 20% of people admitting to never flossing at all. To us dentists, these numbers are shockingly low.
Flossing is important for more than just your gums and teeth. Research has shown flossing has an impact on the entire body. Bacteria that cause tooth and gum decay also play a role in heart disease and strokes. Most bacteria in your mouth isn’t dangerous; however, poor oral care or a suppressed immune system could allow the bad bacteria to quickly multiply. This bad bacteria can enter your bloodstream through cuts in your gums and cause infections in your heart or lungs.
Flossing is an integral part of your daily routine, and does more good than just give your whiter teeth and fresh breath. Flossing can help prevent a host of diseases and keep you healthy!
3. Remember your tongue!
Your tongue is an important group of muscles that aids in speaking, eating and swallowing. Without it life would look very different. In addition, you tongue has the ability to indicate illness and gauge aspects of overall health. (Your tongue can change colors and allude to vitamin deficient as well be an indicator for poor oral health.)
2. Brush properly
While we wish that we could tell you there was a single best way to brush your teeth, there is no real consensus. Effective tooth brushing requires you to spend at least two minutes, twice a day thoroughly brushing your teeth. This means each stroke has reached behind each tooth, in the crevices, in the far back molars, and your tongue.
The most common error we see among patients is a failure to get all parts of your teeth. Don’t focus only on the parts you see when you smile. You need to be reaching far to the back and getting behind your furthest molar!
- Visit the dentist
In the last year, over one third of adults avoided going to the dentist. Even if you consider yourself low risk for oral health issues, the truth is an issue could pop up at any time and if not addressed, the issue can compound.
For example, what might start off as a small cavity can over time develop into issues with the root of the tooth that necessitates a root canal or even the loss of the tooth. While plaque on your teeth may not seem like a huge issue to the layman, it can quickly transform and result in gum disease. As the relatively small issues compound, the price and severity of the procedure increase. By visiting the dentist on a bi-annual basis ensures relatively minor issues can be addressed in the most expedient and cost-effective manner.