Taking care of your teeth and gums doesn’t just allow you to enjoy a sparkling smile for years to come. When you don’t know how to maintain good dental hygiene, you’re putting yourself at risk for serious diseases that increase your chances for developing heart disease, arthritis, and other health problems. Keeping your mouth clean and watching what goes into your body both go a long way in maintaining a strong and healthy mouth. Follow the five steps of dental hygiene to make sure your routine doesn’t slip and leave you facing a long-term battle against gum disease.
5 TIPS ON HOW TO MAINTAIN GOOD DENTAL HYGIENE
1. STICK TO YOUR DAILY HABITS
Begin with a strong foundation of daily oral hygiene habits. Brush at least twice a day, or preferably after every meal but no more than four times a day. Use a timer or your favorite short song to make sure you’re actually brushing the full two minutes every time. Most adults greatly underestimate the amount of time they need to spend in the bathroom to get all the food residue and tartar out of the crevices between teeth. Of course, you’ll need to follow up on that last brushing before bed with a flossing as well. Flossing after a day full of eating removes food particles before they can sit overnight and create acids while you sleep. These acids threaten the durability of your enamel, so flossing goes a long way in preventing tooth decay and gum disease. If you find it difficult to use a length of floss to get the job done, try pre-strung flossing picks that fit easily between the tightest teeth.
2. AVOID ALCOHOL AND SODA
Many adults that skip sugary snacks and candies to preserve their oral health forget about all the sugar and acids lurking in common cocktails and soft drinks. A single soda can pack in up to two full ounces of sugar, resulting in intense saturation every time you take a sip. All that sugar feeds the bacteria that thrive in your mouth and cause damage to it. Alcohol often brings sugar too, but even sugar-free spirits are often acidic enough to do damage directly to enamel. Sodas are also intensely acidic for preservative and flavor reasons, accelerating the wear and tear on your smile.
3. EAT A BALANCED DIET
On top of avoiding sugar and limiting acidic drinks, you’ll need to support strong tooth health by getting enough of key nutrients and vitamins. For example, a lack of fluoride can even affect adults and result in weakened teeth. Staying on a diet that provides too little Vitamin C can leave your gums bleeding and your teeth loose, while all of the B vitamins are necessary for good gum health and rapid oral healing. Dairy products make better snacks than candy or even some fruits because they provide Calcium and Vitamin D while offering a low acid alternative. If you’re noticing signs of changes in texture or color in your gums, ask your dentist about potential vitamin deficiencies after they’ve ruled out gum disease or damage.
4. CHECK FOR SYMPTOMS
Taking a close look at your teeth and gums can help you spot the earliest signs of gum disease before the problem gets out of control. The first symptoms to watch for include:
Reddening or even just a brighter pink color around the edges where the gums meet the teeth
Ongoing bad breath that can’t be solved with brushing and flossing
Increasing or new sensitivities in your teeth, even if they move around frequently
Minor swelling of gum tissue that goes away after a few days
Visibly receding gums that reveal brighter white tooth material
Looseness of certain teeth, especially when there’s been no trauma to cause the problem.
You may not notice a little puffiness in the gums as easily as you would notice a throbbing and swollen jaw, but it could be just as important. Track changes in your oral conditions to figure out what’s normal and what needs the attention of a dentist. Checking in with your dentist will help you decide what to do about gum disease if it’s starting to develop in your mouth.
5. SCHEDULE REGULAR DENTIST VISITS
Don’t skip those routine cleanings because they also double as check-ups. When the dentist and hygienists get a chance to check out your gums and teeth every six months to one year, they’ll spot signs of oral cancer, root damage, and other serious issues before they cause you pain or threaten your life. Skipping even one or two appointments can allow a dangerous condition to spread rapidly. Make an appointment with your dentist today if it’s been more than six months. They will be happy to see you, and you’ll rest easier knowing you’re doing everything you can to maintain good oral hygiene.