Research has shown that there is a strong connection between oral health and overall health. Gum disease, for example, is linked to a wide range of illnesses including heart disease, diabetes, respiratory disease, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and more. Good oral hygiene is therefore not just necessary to keep your teeth and gums healthy but also for your overall wellbeing. Here are some handy best practices that will ensure your oral health and keep you fit:
1. Regular Brushing
While it is common knowledge that teeth must be brushed twice a day to keep them clean and keep bacteria at bay, what many people do not follow is the right brushing technique. Teeth need to be brushed in circular motions as opposed to back & forth motions. You need to avoid aggressive brushing as that can damage tooth enamel. Also, the use of a hard-bristled toothbrush needs to be avoided. You need to be mindful of changing your toothbrush at regular intervals. The thumb rule to follow when it comes to changing your toothbrush is 3 months or when the ends are frayed, whichever comes first.
For people who have arthritis or any other condition that limits the movement of the hand, it will work well to use an electric toothbrush. Also attaching the handle of the toothbrush to your hand with an elastic band will work well.
Pro tip – Do remember to keep your tongue clean. It can be as much a target of bacteria as your teeth. A tongue scraper can help to keep your tongue free of germs.
2. Use of Fluoride Toothpaste
Lack of fluoride can lead to tooth decay. It is therefore imperative to use toothpaste as well as mouthwash that is equipped with fluoride. Among the many benefits of fluoride are:
- It strengthens tooth enamel
- Reduces the acid that the bacteria on the teeth produces
Spitting out after brushing & not rinsing ensures that the fluoride remains on the teeth longer.
With young children less than 7 years old, you need to make sure that they use only a pea-sized smear of fluoride toothpaste.
3. Flossing daily
Flossing is an important technique that removes plaque and bacteria from places where your toothbrush cannot reach. It is recommended that you floss your teeth daily. The floss needs to be gently pushed all the way to the gum line. A word of caution here- ensure that you do not snap the floss up and down between the teeth as not only will it not remove plaque, but it can also lead to pain, and you may have to seek emergency dental care, so be careful while flossing.
In case you experience any bleeding while flossing, it will be prudent to see your dentist. In fact, asking the dentist to show you the right way to floss will be valuable.
4. Regular dental checkups
Now the importance of this cannot be over-emphasized. A bi-annual check-up is a must. A routine dental check-up helps with many things including but not limited to cleaning the teeth and removing plaque & tartar. The dentist will also look for any cavities, signs of gum disease as well as any other oral health issues. Importantly the dentist will also screen you for mouth cancer. It is a painless and non-invasive process where the dentist looks for:
- Irregular tissue change
- Lesions, and more
Factors that can increase the risk of oral cancer include:
- Use of tobacco
- Heavy alcohol use
- Any history of oral cancer
It is important to speak to your dentist about how often you should come in for your check-up. Also, needless to mention that in case you notice any changes in your mouth you must reach out to your dentist.
5. Do not smoke
Smoking is a big risk factor for gum disease, slow healing after a dental procedure, mouth cancer, and a lot more. It also impacts the color of the teeth and tongue besides giving you a bad odor.
6. Use a mouthwash
A mouthwash can go a long way in improving oral health. A study found that mouthwash that contains chlorhexidine controls the formation of plaque and gingivitis. It is important to remember, however, that a mouthwash cannot act as a substitute for brushing your teeth or flossing.
7. Do not overconsume sugary foods
Excess consumption of sugar and sugary foods can lead to cavities in the teeth. It is recommended that sugar intake be kept at less than 10 percent of daily calorie intake. In addition food rich in starch can also cause tooth decay. Such food breaks down into simple sugar. In turn, acid-producing bacteria feed on such food. It will be good to substitute such food with fruits and vegetables and consume a balanced, healthy diet. And here are some foods you should avoid if you have sensitive teeth.
8. Drink enough water
The importance of drinking enough water is well known. What is not so well known is that drinking water is also good for the teeth and gums. It helps prevent cavities and gum disease. Additionally, you can also prevent plaque buildup and also protect your tooth enamel by drinking enough water. Drinking water with traces of minerals and fluoride also helps to restore and strengthen your enamel. By drinking water, you also prevent dry mouth, a condition in which plaque builds up as the mouth does not produce enough saliva. Also, acid from plaque build-up further damages the teeth. Drinking enough water ensures you are hydrated and that production of saliva is stimulated.
Substituting sipping on soda or sugary drinks with water intake can really improve your overall health.
To Sum Up
The above seemingly simple tips can go a long way in maintaining healthy teeth and gums. About time you evaluated your oral health and made these practices a part of your daily routine. Not only will it benefit you, but you will also help children inculcate these practices that will last them a lifetime!