Most people know dental health is important, but do they know what to do to achieve optimal dental health? These six tips will help you take care of your teeth and gums, allowing you to maintain a great smile of natural teeth well into your golden years.
Brushing might seem as if it is second-nature by the time you reach adulthood, but many people could improve their efforts. These tips help you “brush up” on your brushing routine:
• Begin brushing in the back of the mouth and follow the same course each time. Creating a standard routine for brushing helps you build good habits.
• Brush in a circular motion downward from the gums. This loosens the debris that tends to build up around the gum line.
• Brush the front and back surfaces of all teeth. Believe it or not, some brushers focus on the front surface and neglect behind the teeth.
• Brush the biting surface of all teeth. This loosens food particles that settle in the area.
• Brush the tongue and inside of cheeks. Bacteria build up in these locations, too. Brushing the soft surfaces in your mouth promotes fresh breath.
• Finish with a rinse. This is different than traditional mouthwash, which can sometimes contain sugar. Speak with your dentist about an oral rinse that is best for you.
Make sure you use this brushing routine after every meal, or at least twice a day. Brushing should take you about two minutes, if done properly. If you tend to speed things up and cut corners, set a timer beside your bathroom sink to ensure you are brushing for the appropriate amount of time.
Flossing is one of the most important things you can do to protect the health of your teeth and gums, but it is something overlooked by many. The oral health care experts at Colgate share these tips for flossing:
• The goal of flossing is to remove plaque and food particles from areas a toothbrush is unable to reach, so focus on your gum line and between your teeth during the process.
• Cut a length of floss that leaves you plenty of excess to wrap around your fingers and still have enough to hold taut while working in an up and down motion between teeth.
• Curve the piece around the base of each tooth in a C-shape and work beneath the gum line. As you move from section to section, unwind the excess and use a clean part of the strand as you go.
• Some people find plastic flossing tools make the process easier. They achieve the same results, so choose whatever method is most likely to get you flossing on a regular basis.
Another consideration for teeth and gum care is your diet. The foods you eat and beverages you drink all have an effect on your teeth. Avoid sugary foods and drinks, such as cakes, cookies, candy, and sugary gum. Don’t forget foods that include “hidden” sugar, such as bread, crackers, and dried fruit. If you must drink sugary beverages, sip them through a straw to avoid washing teeth in the liquid.
4. Avoid Grinding
Tooth grinding occurs when you gnash your upper and lower rows of teeth together. Some people do this in their sleep, but others find they are pressing their teeth together when awake, too. It is usually an unconscious action and may be a result of stress or tension.
If you are someone who grinds, try to be aware of the action throughout the day. Stretch and hold your mouth open for several seconds to release the tension. You can do this at bedtime and several times throughout the day. Your dentist may also recommend wearing a grinding shield to form a barrier between your upper and lower teeth.
5. Know the Early Signs of Gum Disease
Knowing if an oral health problem is present is an important part of keeping your teeth and gums healthy. Gum disease can be treated quite easily if detected early enough. If you experience itching or soreness of the gums or your gums are swollen or bleed from gentle brushing, you may be developing gum disease. Other symptoms include bad breath and mouth sores.
6. Know How Non-Dental Issues Affect Your Dental Health
It is also important to understand how your other health issues affect your oral health. If you suffer from diabetes, heart disease, cancer, or any other disease, speak with your dentist about your dental health risks. There may be things you can do to protect your teeth and gums when dealing with other health issues.