When it comes to your overall health, it can be easy to overlook the importance of your oral health. In addition to helping you eat, speak, and smile, the health of your teeth and gums plays an important role in determining your self-esteem and in preventing tooth decay and gum disease.
Without taking care of your oral health, you could develop a number of oral health conditions such as periodontal disease that can lead to a variety of problems, including tooth loss, bad breath, root rot, and sensitivity to hot and cold foods and drinks.
Fortunately, taking care of your oral health remains a pretty simple thing. The advice you heard as a kid about brushing and flossing daily still holds true, and will take care of about 90 percent of your oral health needs. However, for those who want truly beautiful teeth and healthy gums, here are several tips that will help ensure you enjoy quality oral health for a lifetime.
Axe the Anxiety
According to studies from the American Dental Association, approximately 40 million Americans avoid regularly visiting the dentist due to anxiety. While brushing and flossing helps to protect your teeth from harmful bacteria that causes tooth decay and gum disease, oral exams and dental cleanings also play an important role in protecting the health of your mouth. Dental cleanings allow your dentist to remove plaque from your teeth in places your toothbrush regularly misses, and oral exams give your dentist the opportunity to perform routine oral cancer screenings and to look for the early signs of tooth decay.
If visiting the dentist ranks right up there with a weekend at the in-laws, try brining headphones and an iPod to your next appointment. Studies have shown that listening to soothing music during times of stress and anxiety can help people relax. Also, makes sure to discuss your dental anxiety with your dentist prior to undergoing any procedure. The majority of dentists understand that some patients have less than fond thoughts about visiting, and are happy to discuss your concerns.
Floss Before you Brush
Flossing helps to remove lingering food particles from between your teeth and gum line that can directly lead to tooth decay if allowed to fester. However, if you brush before you floss, you won’t wash away any the food particles you dislodge by flossing. If these food particles remain in your mouth, they present just as big a problem to the health of your teeth than if you hadn’t flossed to begin with.
A Toothpick is a Temporary Solution
It’s important to remove food particles from in-between your teeth as soon as possible after eating. However, if you don’t have the time or opportunity to floss following a meal, a toothpick works as an able substitute. When using a toothpick to remove food particles, make sure you don’t apply too much pressure to your gums with the toothpick. Pressing down with too much force can irritate your gums and cause damage. You also run the risk of breaking the toothpick off underneath the gum line. Remember, while a toothpick works in a pinch, it’s not a long-term substitute for flossing.
A New Tool
Your toothbrush is your primary tool in the fight against plaque and gum disease. However, any tool you use frequently will eventually wear out and need replacing. The American Dental Association recommends that you replace a toothbrush every three months, or as soon as it begins to show wear. If the bristles on your toothbrush become frayed or start to spread out, the time has come to buy a new one.
A number of foods, such as candy and soda, contain high levels of sugar that make eating them bad for your teeth. Fortunately, there are a number of foods that actually benefit your teeth when eaten. Cheese contains casein and whey protein that can help reverse the demineralization of your teeth’s enamel, thereby making your teeth stronger and healthier. As an added bonus, cheese also contains valuable calcium, which also helps to strengthen your teeth.
If you enjoy drinking red wine, coffee, tea, or any other of a number of stain causing foods and drinks, your pearly whites may start looking a little dingy. To combat stains, try brushing your teeth at least twice a month with baking soda, just like you would with regular toothpaste, and then rinse afterwards. If you don’t care for the taste of baking soda, look for a brand of toothpaste that contains baking soda instead