10 Tips for Healthy Teeth & Gums
Brushing and flossing are part of a good dental routine. However, there are other things you can do to help maintain healthy teeth and gums that can benefit your overall wellbeing.
1. Brush Your Teeth Twice Daily (Two Minutes Each Time)
Keeping your teeth clean and healthy begins with regular maintenance. Brushing for two minutes at a time twice a day will help to keep plaque at bay. Patients with children should introduce this concept early, and find ways to make it fun.
To make it easier to clean every tooth, try to spend 30 seconds on each quadrant of your mouth. Using small circular motions, angle the head of the brush towards the gums. Be sure to clean all surfaces, as well as along the gum line, both on the fronts and backs of your teeth. Some patients find using an electric toothbrush helps as well.
2. Floss Daily
It's recommended to floss every night before brushing to remove anything your toothbrush is unable to dislodge. If you only brush and decide you don't need to floss, small particles of food and other deposits that are missed and can eventually cause decay. To avoid this, make sure you take two minutes a day to floss. When you first start flossing, it may cause sensitive gums to hurt. This is natural and will stop in a few days. Make sure you slide the floss up and down along the whole tooth. Don't skip over the tight spaces! These are the most important places to floss because your toothbrush can't reach them.
3. Replace Your Toothbrush Regularly
As a general rule, you should get a new toothbrush every 3 - 6 months. Damaged or frayed toothbrushes can't clean the surface of your teeth correctly and can cause irritation or damage to your gums. Replacing your toothbrush frequently also allows you to help keep it clean. Always rinse your toothbrush well and store it so it can dry. Remember to replace your toothbrush if you've been sick to stop bacteria from being re-introduced into your mouth.
4. Visit Your Dentist Every Six Months
Your dentist will be able to prevent issues before they start, or at least to catch them early if you have regular dental appointments. Regular visits also allow your teeth to get a thorough professional cleaning twice a year, removing any buildup of plaque and tartar, which helps to keep your teeth and gums healthy.
5. Eat a Healthy Diet
Reduce or, better yet, avoid eating sweetened foods (such as pop, sports drinks, and candy). Include high-calcium foods to support strong and healthy teeth (e.g. leafy greens, almonds, yogurt, cheese). These foods have other benefits to your body and your dentist can give you more information about what foods you can eat to help keep your teeth strong for years to come.
6. Use Dental Hygiene Products
Brushing and flossing are key to preventive dental health, but you can help keep your teeth in top condition by incorporating supplemental aids into your routine as well. Examples of these products include mouthwash, oral irrigators, interdental cleaners, and tongue cleaners. These aids can help support good oral health and should be used in conjunction with regular brushing and flossing.
7. Stay Hydrated
Sufficient hydration is not only good for your overall health but being hydrated also helps maintain a healthy saliva flow. Saliva aids in dental health by moving food particles through your mouth, preventing most of them from lodging in your teeth where bacteria can grow. It also helps to keep your mouth comfortable.
8. Don't Smoke
Smoking causes superficial concerns, such as tooth staining, as well as severe health issues like gum disease which can lead to tooth loss and oral cancer, among other issues. One of the best things you could do for your oral and overall health is to quit smoking immediately.
9. Consider Dental Sealants
Dental sealants fill the depressions and grooves of your molars and premolars, which helps to shield your teeth from cavities and plaque. These sealants can help many people, but children and teens are good candidates as they often don't brush as well as adults, leading to a higher rate of cavities.
10. Regularly Examine Inside Your Mouth
Regular checkups with your dentist are an excellent preventive measure, issues can develop in the months between visits. To prevent major concerns, you should do a quick scan of the inside of your mouth as part of your daily routine.
Check your teeth and gums for any changes or anything that seems unusual. Make sure you share this information with your dentist at your next appointment or call your dentist's office if you discover anything concerning. Regular self-exams are beneficial to maintaining your health.