In a world of “new” and “now” we can get a little forgetful when it comes to things that don’t yield instant and obvious results that make us feel good. So, the less fun but important things like oral hygiene might take the backseat to snacks and treats that look just as appealing as they are sweet. But, is that short-term enjoyment worth the possible long-term damage they can do to your teeth?
Don’t go throwing away all your favorites just yet and know that you are not alone in maybe not being quite as on top of taking care of your teeth as you should. Most people are surprised, and relieved, to find out that you don’t need to completely cut sugar out of your diet but really consider how to take care of your teeth to ensure your favorites don’t hurt you later.
So, you’re brushing and flossing regularly and limiting your sugar intake now, but could there be more that you could be doing to ward off plaque buildup, gum disease like gingivitis, and even oral injuries like a chipped tooth?
Our friendly and knowledgeable team at Scott Edwards Cosmetic and Family Dentistry believes in providing both expert dental care and exceptional dental education to help you develop the best possible oral hygiene routines. Keep reading for our top tips for keeping your teeth healthy!
Eat a healthy diet
These days just about everything can be traced back to your diet, and the connection between your diet and your oral health is no different. Not only can getting the proper nutrients boost your teeth’s overall health but eating certain foods can either help or harm your teeth’s enamel surfaces.
Eating fresh, crunchy fruits and vegetables can not only help remove plaque build-up as you bite into them and chew, but they are also much more difficult for bacteria to break down as they don’t contain many of bacteria favorites like carbohydrates, fats, oils, and sugars. In comparison, consuming sugary foods feeds this bacteria that lead to gum disease, while acidic food and drinks can prematurely destroy your tooth’s protective enamel coating.
Rinse after meals
It may not be realistic to be able to brush your teeth after every meal, but you should at least make an effort to rinse the debris from your teeth and gums with some warm water or even a recommended mouthwash. Mouthwash can help reduce the amount of acid in your mouth, reaches deep between teeth where a toothpick can’t reach, and even re-mineralizes teeth.
Regular dental visits
You are your number one defense against plaque, and the other oral threats life can present. Still, seeing your dentist for regular cleanings and checkups twice a year can maximize your protection and help spot potential issues before they become a monster of their own kind. Your dentist is equipped with the tools and knowledge to spot cavities in the darkest areas of your mouth and can give you a deep cleaning to clear any spots you may struggle with daily.
When a dental emergency presents itself, make sure you schedule an appointment with your dentists as soon as possible. Many dental emergencies can be fixed pretty easily if tended to promptly.
Start kids early
According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, children should be seen by a dentist within six months of their first tooth coming in but no later than age one to establish a foundation for their dental care. This is a great time to start teaching your child to brush their teeth and address any concerns you may have about their oral hygiene routine with their dentist.
Fluoride twice a day
You should be brushing your teeth twice a day, but if you aren’t using toothpaste with fluoride, you may not be getting the protection you need. Most people get some of their recommended fluoride from their drinking water but utilizing fluoride in your oral hygiene routine while brushing helps strengthen your tooth’s enamel and prevent tooth decay.
Take your time while brushing. Moving in gentle circular motions and focusing on each tooth will ensure you remove as much plaque and debris as possible without harming your gums.
Clean between your teeth
Plaque is a sticky film that contains bacteria that feeds on the excess sugar and food in your mouth. Over time this plaque hardens into tartar which gets stuck between your teeth and below your gum line. Over time, the acid produced can eat away at your tooth’s enamel to create cavities and foster gum diseases like gingivitis.
Floss comes in a variety of textures, flavors, and methods. String floss, dental picks, and interdental brushes can make getting into the tight spaces and below the gum line easier. For a more thorough between the teeth and below the gum clean, a Waterpik is an oral pulsating irrigator that aims a strong stream of water precisely where you need to remove debris and other build-up without effort or discomfort.
Don’t forget your tongue
It might be surprising to some to be told to brush your tongue, but plaque can also build up on your tongue, leading to bad breath and other oral health problems. Tooth decay is the result of rampant bacterial activity in your mouth, and removing as many sources from your mouth as possible can give you an extra level of defense against decay.
Don’t use tobacco
You know smoking is bad for your health, so it should be no surprise that cigarettes and chewing tobacco are harmful to your oral health. Tobacco use causes bad breath and stains your teeth and tongue. It can cause slow healing from tooth extraction or other oral surgery and even make correcting some cosmetic dental concerns problematic. Using tobacco products also significantly increases your risk of gum disease and oral cancers.
Avoid oral piercings
Body piercing is a popular form of self-expression, but oral piercings like in your tongue, lips, cheeks, or uvula can harm your tooth surfaces and overall oral health. The bacteria introduced can lead to infections and swelling in your mouth. The metal piercings can cause irreparable damage to your tooth surfaces and may interfere with getting clear images with X-rays and other dental imaging instruments.
Protect your teeth from impact
Another threat to your teeth’s health is the impact that can be common with sports and recreational activities. We recommend wearing an appropriate mouthguard to avoid chipping, cracking, or displacing a tooth while participating in impact sports. Mouthguards can be custom-made by your dentist but most commonly are sold in sporting goods stores like “boil and bite” mouthguards that are warmed with water and then bitten firmly to form a perfect fit for your mouth.
For more tips for taking care of your teeth, trust Scott Edwards Cosmetic and Family Dentistry
Dr. Scott Edwards and his associate Dr. Julia Prince together have 40 years of experience. They are committed to providing the highest caliber of dental care in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere for your entire family’s oral health. We treat you like you would treat you and that means giving you all the knowledge you need to make your best oral hygiene decisions. For any questions or more tips on helping you take care of your teeth, give us a call or schedule an appointment at our East Memphis or Midtown offices today!