8 Oral Health Tips You Need to Know

Everyone should know how to keep their teeth as healthy and clean as possible. Has your dentist told you these tips to improve your oral health?

8 oral health tips you need to know

Photo by Rodrigo Amorim via Flickr.

The Importance of Oral Health

Keeping your mouth healthy has a variety of benefits, from giving you a confident smile to prolonging your life. And dental experts can all agree on one thing: taking preventative measures is the best way to care for your teeth. So to promote your oral health, we recommend following these 8 tips to keep your teeth happy and healthy for a lifetime:

1. Stick to Your Oral Hygiene Regime
From the time we’re young, we’re taught good habits on how to maintain a healthy smile: brush twice a day, floss, and rinse. But in your later teen years, you may wake up late for class and skip a step or two. Or you go to bed without brushing your teeth after a late night. Of course, breaking those good habits every once in awhile isn’t going to cause immediate damage to your teeth. However, the reality is that maintaining oral health on a daily basis goes beyond brushing a couple of times a day when you remember. Without brushing, flossing and rinsing, teeth build up plaque that produce acids, wearing away tooth enamel. Making sure that your brush in the morning and before bed will help prevent buildup and tooth decay in the long run.

2. Use the Right Toothbrush

Depending on your oral health, you should talk to your dentist about what type of toothbrush you should be using. For example, someone with braces will need a special kind of toothbrush to clean between brackets. Younger children will need softer, smaller brushes to gently clean their teeth.

Generally, there are two main kinds of toothbrushes to choose from: manual and electric brushes. Both are able to thoroughly clean teeth; it just depends on your preference and what your dental hygienist recommends for you. All come in a variety of shapes and sizes to fit comfortably in your mouth. When purchasing a toothbrush, dental experts recommend that you look for the ADA Seal of Acceptance.

The ADA Council on Scientific Affairs carefully evaluates and approves a company’s toothbrush according to objective guidelines. To qualify for the Seal of Acceptance, the company must show that:

  • All of the toothbrush components are safe for the mouth

  • Bristles are free of jagged or sharp edges

  • Manufacturer-tested to show durability under normal use

  • The toothbrush can be used without supervision by the average adult to provide a significant decrease in mild gum disease and plaque

Also, it’s important to change out your toothbrush every three months, or when the bristles get stiff. If not, you may be brushing with bristles that aren’t efficiently cleaning your teeth. To keep your toothbrush clean, make it a habit to thoroughly rinse it after you brush to avoid buildup.

3. Be Sure to Brush and Floss Properly
As you clean your teeth right before bed or early in the morning, you may not be giving much thought as to how you do it. To make sure that your teeth are effectively cleaned when you brush and floss, you need to be using the proper techniques.

For brushing, you need to hold your toothbrush at a 45 degree angle, gently moving back and forth across your teeth in short strokes. Be sure to brush the chewing surfaces, inside, and outside of all your teeth. Also brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen your breath.

For flossing, use 18 to 24 inches of dental floss to clean between each tooth. Make a C shape around each tooth, gently following the natural shape of your teeth. Clean beneath the gum line, and avoid snapping the floss on your gums.

4. Keep Up With Dental Check-ups
Whether it’s because you’re busy, money is tight, or you have dental anxiety, neglecting to visit the dentist is an all too common problem in the United States. In fact, only 50% of adults in American say that they visit their dentist regularly (every 6 months or so). But keeping up with oral exams and regular cleanings is crucial for your oral health. When you avoid the dentist, you’re taking the risk. Dentists not only help keep your teeth clean, they also check for signs of dental issues and disease, hopefully catching them in their earliest stages. If you have an issue like a sensitive tooth, swollen gums, or other signs of dental problems, it can be dangerous to put off treatment. If a lack of insurance or access to affordable dental care is keeping you from making an appointment, you may want to consider other means of cheap, discounted dental care, like visiting dental schools or getting a discount dental card.

5. Healthy Diet
We all know that sticking to a healthy diet can help build a strong body, and doing so can actually help keep teeth stronger, too. Some foods that the ADA recommends are:

  • Lean Proteins
    Foods like fish, poultry, red meat, and eggs help to build and protect tooth enamel. They are full of phosphorus and protein to help strengthen teeth.

  • Dairy
    Dairy products like yogurt, cheese, and milk that are low in sugar can promote the health of your teeth because they’re rich in calcium and protein.

  • Fruits, Veggies, and Nuts
    Having fruits, vegetables, and nuts as a normal part of your diet will help to stimulate saliva flow and keep your teeth cleaner and healthier.

  • Water
    Opting for water instead of sugary drinks can make a world of difference for your oral health. Drinking water throughout the day, especially with meals, can help continually cleanse your teeth of food particles.

6. Avoid Sugary and Acidic drinks
Sugar is the main culprit of tooth decay, which is the most common health disorder among children in the U.S. It’s caused by bacteria in the mouth that produce acids after coming in contact with sugar from drinks and food, dissolving and damaging teeth. the best thing to do is avoid sugary and acidic drinks to protect the enamel on your teeth. By at least keeping consumption of sodas, energy drinks, and fruit juice to a minimum, you can give your saliva a chance to neutralize the acid.

7. Cut back on the Starch
We’re always told that too much sugar can lead to cavities, but did you know that starchy foods can be just as troublesome? Starches also cause bacteria in your mouth to produce acids, and foods like potato chips and bread have a tendency to stick and cling to your teeth. Avoid starch-heavy foods before bedtime, and be sure to brush and floss out the food that gets caught in your teeth,

8.  Quit Your Tobacco Habits
Both smoking and chewing tobacco can cause serious damage to your teeth. Not only will regular use lead to tooth discoloration, it will also put you at higher risk for gum disease and oral cancer. In a study conducted at the University of California, researchers found the 8 out of 10 patients who had oral cancer were smokers. Smoking and chewing degrade tooth support and damage the gum tissue. Although quitting tobacco isn’t easy, it’s worth it for the sake of your teeth and your life.

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