At North Park Dental Care, we know that healthy teeth and gums contribute to overall wellness. Here, our dentists share their top 10 dental hygiene tips for keeping your smile healthy.
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 a Day for 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.
Spend 30 seconds on each quadrant of your mouth to make cleaning every tooth easier. Angle the brush head towards the gums in small circular motions. Clean all surfaces, as well as the gum line, on both the front and back of your teeth. Some patients find that using an electric toothbrush is beneficial as well.
2. Floss Daily
It is recommended to floss every night before brushing to remove anything that your toothbrush cannot remove. Small particles of food and other deposits that are missed if you only brush and decide not to floss can eventually cause decay. To avoid this, floss twice a day for two minutes. When you first start flossing, it may hurt your sensitive gums. This is normal and will subside in a few days. Make sure to move the floss up and down the entire tooth. Tight spaces are the most important places to floss because your toothbrush cannot reach them.
3. Replace Your Toothbrush Once It Starts to Wear
As a general rule, you should get a new toothbrush every 3 to 6 months. Damaged or frayed toothbrushes can't clean the surface of your teeth correctly and can cause damage to your gums. Replacing your toothbrush often 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 prevent 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 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. Maintain a Healthy Diet
Avoiding sweetened foods (such as pop, sports drinks, and candy) as well as including foods high in calcium will help to support strong and healthy teeth. As a side benefit, your body will thank you, too. Some foods that will help to strengthen your teeth include leafy greens, almonds, yogurt, and cheese. Speak to your dentist for recommendations of foods that will 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 (fissures) of your molars and premolars, helping to protect your teeth from cavities and plaque. 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 the Inside of Your Mouth
While 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.
Examine your teeth and gums for any changes or unusualities. Make sure to share this information with your dentist at your next appointment, or call their office if you find anything concerning. Regular self-examinations are beneficial to your health.