5 Things You Can Do Every Day to Improve Your Oral Health

Updated August 17, 2016

When it comes to your oral health, sometimes it is placed on the back burner for more immediate things that are happening in your life. If this occurs here and there, it is not a big deal. But when you place your oral health on the back burner all the time, you need to be worried!

It may not seem like oral health is important, but it is. We need to take care of our teeth as we have a long life to live and eating is much more challenging without teeth. You also need to be aware of the things you are putting in your mouth such as nicotine filled chew and dip. These substances are just as likely to cause oral cancer as smoking is to cause lung cancer.

Brushing is important. Even if you’re a stalwart brusher, that might not be enough to safeguard your oral health. Believe it or not, there is a wrong way to brush. Getting into a bad habit, even with good intentions, can wind up causing significant damage to your health. Here are a few things you can do every day to keep your teeth in excellent shape and maintain good oral health.

1. Brush, Don’t Scrub

Scrubbing your teeth like you would your floors will only wear away the tooth enamel, leading to discomfort and additional sensitivity. To keep your teeth clean, apply very little force. Use a soft brush and lightly go over them. You are not power washing or scouring, you are polishing a delicate pearl.

When you scrub too hard, you are affecting your gum line as well. When you brush too hard on your gums, it can cause them to become irritated and inflamed. If this happens too frequently, your gums can start to shrink and recede. You do not want this to occur as a receding gum line can cause many problems including exposing your dentin (the layer under the tooth itself) to the harsh elements of the mouth. You can acquire a dental abscess due to bacteria building up or periodontal disease in which an infection will destroy your gum tissue altogether including the supporting bones that hold your teeth in place!

2. Avoid Sodas

This is a hard tip to follow, but sodas are harmful to teeth for a number of reasons. They contain a large amount of sugar, have artificial colors that will stain your teeth, and are very acidic. The phosphoric and citric acids are a large concern because they (too) eat away at your tooth enamel, making it softer and more prone to cavities.

While you’re at it, limit sugar binges. Sugar causes bacteria and acid in your mouth to increase. For every sugary treat or beverage you consume, you’re increasing the acid production in your mouth for up to 20 minutes.

Instead of drinking beverages with sugar in them, try drinking plain water. Water is healthy for you as your body craves it, especially if you do consume a large amount of salt or sugar. Your body also needs it to flush out your kidneys and to keep your organs in good working condition. On a hot, humid day, your body is asking to be watered as you are constantly sweating to try and stay cool when you are outside. If you do not like plain water, add some fruit to it for flavor, such as strawberries, lemon, peaches, or even cucumbers.

3. Brush After Meals

Many dentists suggest brushing after every meal. If that’s possible, it’s a great way to keep sugars from “nesting” in your teeth. However, there is an optimal time to do so. For best results, wait at least 30 minutes after eating before brushing. If you can’t brush after a meal, chew a piece of sugar-free gum.

The reason it is so critical to brush after eating is to remove the leftover food particles, stuck on sugar, and plaque that builds up in between the teeth after eating. Since we have bacteria in our mouth that loves to feed on sugar, anytime after we eat is a smorgasbord for the bacteria that live in our mouth. The acid they produce can break down our tooth enamel and cause us to develop cavities and a trip to the dentist. Nobody wants that!

4. Time It Right

Have you noticed how easy it seems to wear away your tooth enamel? It’s a very delicate balance between good care and wear. Ideally you should brush between two-three minutes, spending about 30 seconds in each area of your mouth. Don’t exceed that by too much as it could—you guessed it—wear away the enamel.

An excellent way to make sure you are brushing for long enough, but not going over the time limit is to find a song the is between two and three minutes. Start playing the song when you start brushing. When the song ends, you know you are done brushing and can rinse your mouth. The best part, you get to listen to your favorite music right after getting up or right before going to bed. What can be better than that?

5. Floss Daily

No matter how much of an expert brusher you are, there are areas of your mouth you just can’t get to. Flossing helps remove food and plaque between teeth and below the gum line. Bacteria takes 24 hours to create plaque, so flossing is a helpful way to prevent that process. However, don’t floss more than once a day, as you don’t want to irritate your gums.

While oral health has improved in young people ages 6–19, (only 40 percent of them had a cavity, versus 50 percent from a decade ago), adults continue to put off basic dental care. Stay on top of your oral health every day, and you’re more likely to maintain your teeth. There aren’t any Tooth Fairy visits for adults, so stay on top of your oral hygiene for a healthy smile.

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