Dental problems aren’t just painful and expensive—they’re also directly linked to a myriad of other health problems, including heart disease and diabetes. Taking proper care of your teeth between dentist visits can help you avoid these problems.
Follow these steps to keep your teeth healthy:
1. Brush regularly
You should brush your teeth twice a day for a full two minutes. Be sure to brush gently with a soft bristle toothbrush and use small, vertical motions to avoid scraping the enamel off your teeth. You want to be massaging your teeth and gums, not scrubbing them.
In the morning you should brush your teeth BEFORE you eat breakfast to eliminate acidity developed overnight. The second brushing should happen right before bed.
It may seem like an unnecessary hassle, but bits of food rotting between your teeth can cause serious problems, including cavities and gum issues.
Floss once a day, ideally at night before you brush your teeth. This gets rid of any food particles and other bacteria between your teeth and allows the bristles on your toothbrush to cover more surface area. Focus on doing a thorough job rather than a quick one.
Rinsing with a good anti-bacterial mouthwash can significantly reduce the amount of bacteria and debris lingering in your mouth. Talk to your dentist about what mouthwash is best for you, as there are many specialized options for people with different needs.
At the very least you should rinse your mouth out with water after every brushing to remove lingering toothpaste.
4. Chew gum
Immediately after you eat, chew a piece of sugar-free gum sweetened with xylitol. Xylitol kills the bacteria that causes cavities, and any type of gum helps your mouth create saliva, reducing the overall acidity of your mouth. For ideal results, chew gum for roughly 20 minutes after every meal.
Gum sweetened with sugar typically has a very high percentage of sugar and should be avoided entirely.
5. Diet for oral health
There are several things you can do outside your daily cleaning routine to improve your oral health, and one of the most important is changing your diet.
Start by cutting out—or at least cutting back on—pop and other sugary drinks. You may also want to limit the amount you eat citrus fruit and other acidic foods. Then add more calcium rich foods to your diet, such as nuts, milk, and cheese. This will also help you maintain good bone health.
You don’t have to completely forego things you love or eat mass amounts of calcium-rich food you hate, but you should be conscious of everything you eat and how it will affect your teeth.
6. Don’t avoid the dentist
Very few people actually enjoy dental visits, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid them. Regular dental cleanings can reduce your risk for a myriad of dental problems, and regular checkups can catch problems early on, giving you an opportunity to fix them before they grow. This will also help you save money, as these issues only grow more expensive with time.
You should get a dental checkup and cleaning once a year and/or any time you’re suffering from dental pain.
7. Find a dentist you feel comfortable with
It’s normal to dislike having a dentist poke and prod at your mouth, but you shouldn’t absolutely dread every visit. You should feel comfortable with your dentist, if not the procedures themselves.
Ask for referrals from people you know, take a look at online reviews for anyone you’re considering, and be willing to check out more than one dentist. Finding a dentist who truly listens to you and makes you feel comfortable will save you many hours of misery over the years.