Improve your oral health with these effective tips and tricks.
Your oral health plays an important role in your overall health, both in terms of physical health and general well-being. Having a beautiful, bright smile and fresh breath are huge confidence boosters, but caring for your oral health goes beyond just keeping tooth decay at bay. Your oral health is linked to your general health, and research supports the correlation between poor oral health and increased risks of other diseases, like cardiovascular disease, cancer, and dementia.
This means striving for optimal oral health by proactively caring for our teeth and gums not only makes us feel better about our teeth, but it’s always helping to safeguard our overall health.
To help you get on the right track toward optimal oral health, we’ve gathered our top 6 tips for keeping your smile shining bright.
1. See your dentist twice a year for dental hygiene visits and preventive exams.
One of the single most effective ways you can safeguard your oral health is to see your dentist every six months for dental hygiene visits (professional cleanings) and exams.
Under some circumstances, dentists may recommend a different schedule tailored to a particular patient’s needs. For example, if you’re recovering from gum disease or have a higher risk of developing tooth decay, more frequent visits may be recommended.
Scheduling your preventive care visits ahead of time can be helpful if you tend to procrastinate when making appointments.
2. Purchase a new toothbrush every three months, and consider investing in a powered toothbrush.
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends replacing toothbrushes every three to four months. Right around the three-month mark, most toothbrush bristles will have wear and tear that makes them less effective at removing plaque on the teeth. If your brush appears worn sooner than three months, replace it right away.
Toothbrushes should also be replaced after you’ve been sick or experienced an oral infection, as bacteria will stick to the bristles.
When selecting a new toothbrush, look for soft-bristled options that have a small, rounded head. This shape allows for more effective cleaning, especially around the backmost molars. We also recommend patients consider investing in an ADA-recommended powered toothbrush as studies show powered toothbrushes are much more effective at plaque removal.
3. Strive to follow the “2min2X” guideline, but definitely don’t skip on brushing before bed.
The ever-popular 2min2X brushing guideline recommends children and adults brush for two minutes twice a day. While most adults are well-aware of this golden rule of optimal oral health and do their best to stick with it, studies show that about 30% of adults only brush their teeth once a day.
Forgetting to brush in the morning isn’t so common, as most people don’t want to walk around with less-than-fresh breath, but the temptation to skip on bedtime brushing is a reality for many people.
Even when your day is hectic and you can’t wait to go to bed, definitely don’t skip on your bedtime brushing. Not brushing before bed greatly increases your risk of developing tooth decay and other issues associated with a buildup of plaque. Spending just a few minutes to floss and brush before you hit the hay ensures bacteria won’t be causing havoc in your mouth while you sleep.
4. Diet plays a strong role in oral health, so make an effort to limit how much sugar and starch you consume.
The food we eat fuels our bodies and can either have a positive or negative effect on our oral health. Mountains of research prove how detrimental sugars and starches can be to tooth and gum health, as they stimulate bacteria and promote tooth decay. Indulging often in sugar or starch, like sweet treats or bread, can increase your risk of developing cavities.
In addition to seeing your dentist regularly and keeping up a great at-home oral care regimen, adjusting your diet to reduce the number of sugars and starches you consume on a daily basis will have a significant effect. Remember to seek advice from your physician before starting a new diet, especially if you have any current health issues or are on medication.
5. Floss and scrape your tongue at least once a day, ideally after meals but before you brush your teeth.
Getting a thorough cleaning involves more than just brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes. While brushing your teeth is no doubt important, brushing alone isn’t able to remove bits of stuck food and plaque or get rid of bacteria present on your tongue. Adding daily flossing and tongue scraping to your routine will ensure you’re truly taking care of your oral health as best as you can.
Flossing not only helps get tiny bits of food debris out of your teeth, but it also clears out plaque in those tiny crevices your toothbrush may be unable to reach. Research supports the benefits of regular flossing (at least once per day), and most dentists recommend flossing before brushing, although you may brush first if you prefer. The important thing is to make flossing a part of your daily routine.
Tongue scraping is an often forgotten step, despite research showing how important it is when it comes to banishing bad oral bacteria. Not only does it help you keep your mouth healthier, but regular tongue scraping has a huge impact on improving bad breath. In fact, tongue scraping is more effective at freshening your breath than brushing alone.
6. When oral health issues arise, get them treated as soon as you possibly can rather than waiting.
If your dentist determines you have an oral problem that needs to be addressed, the best thing you can do is schedule your treatment appointment immediately.
Putting off treatment for an oral health problem prolongs pain or discomfort, worsens inflammation and decay, and increases the risks of infection, tooth loss, and a number of other problems. Not only will the issue itself worsen, but treatment will end up becoming more invasive and expensive, which is a serious concern for many adults, with cost being the most common reason people put off treatment.
Let Monroe Family Dentistry help you achieve optimal oral health.
The team at Monroe Family Dentistry is passionate about helping patients of all ages achieve optimal oral health. We provide a number of general dentistry services to help patients keep their teeth and gums healthy, in addition to cosmetic dentistry services for patients who would also like a smile makeover.
When you’re ready to schedule your next dental hygiene visit or your new patient exam, you can either give us a call or use our online Request An Appointment form located on our Contact Us page.