“Pandemic. Quarantine. Shut down.” These are words that no one ever thought they’d have to live through. Unfortunately, most everyone is currently ordered to stay home and that means canceling all the things you enjoy most: your best friend’s birthday party, that cute baby goat yoga class, but most of all, your routine dental appointment! (Bummer!)
Okay, so even though you might not have been too disappointed about missing your dental appointment - missing that appointment can actually leave a damper on your oral health. But, there’s good news! There are 8 ways to keep those pearly whites nice and healthy, prevent build-up, and avoid cavities at home - until you can get back to scheduling that routine appointment!
This may seem like, “duh!” But this is the time to take this seriously. How often are you brushing every day? If you said twice, good job. Three times? Even better! (Just be gentle on those gums!) Since you can’t make it to the dentist right now, it doesn’t hurt to brush after every meal. At the very least, brush once in the morning and once before bed for two minutes at a time.
Now everyone’s favorite: flossing. Your toothbrush can’t reach in between your teeth and that leaves about 35% of your teeth untouched! It’s important to grab that floss and hug it around each side of every tooth to get that trapped food and plaque off and prevent gum disease. Yes, it’s tedious and time-consuming, but what else are you doing right now?
In addition to brushing and flossing, finish the routine with a 30 second swish of mouthrinse. Not only does it leave your mouth feeling minty-fresh, but studies show that using a mouthrinse that has fluoride in it prevents decay and helps with dry mouth. Many also contain the ingredient cetylpyridinium chloride which kills bacteria and prevents decay.
Look at your toothbrush. Have you had it awhile? Are the bristles splayed and frayed? If your answer was yes, toss it. Toothbrushes and toothbrush heads should be replaced every 3 months, as soon as the bristles start to get worn and distorted, or after being sick. Not changing out your toothbrush routinely can cause them to be less effective, leaving plaque and bacteria behind. Rule of thumb: When in doubt, switch it out.
Fluoride is an easy way to prevent tooth decay. It can be found in toothpastes, mouthrinses, and drinking water. When it reaches your mouth, it lowers the acidity that causes your teeth to weaken and helps remineralize the enamel on your teeth, making it harder for decay to form.
Sugar is bad for teeth. You probably already knew that from the time you were a child and you were told to stop eating candy. But did you know that starchy foods are just as bad, if not worse? They quickly break down into sugars, leaving the teeth exposed to the acids that lead to tooth decay.
Foods that are high in fiber cause more saliva production which offsets the acidity that weakens the tooth. Dairy products are high in calcium which helps tooth enamel remineralize. When choosing what to eat during the day - pick foods like cheese, plain yogurt, apples, carrots, and almonds.
When you’re bored, you snack. Sitting around all day can definitely lead to snacking more often. Unfortunately, this can lead to a mouth full of cavities. The more you eat those chips or sip on that soda throughout the day, the longer your teeth are exposed to acid, weakening them over and over again - thus leading to a greater risk of getting decay. Instead, eat those sugary snacks and drinks at the same time as meals. Try to limit yourself to one 15-minute snack a day and drink water with it. This limits the amount of time the teeth are exposed to acid and reduces the chance of cavities.
Did you know there’s a gum that prevents cavities? It’s true. Xylitol is a sweetener that the bad bacteria in your mouth doesn’t like because when it feeds off of xylitol, the bacteria dies. This means less plaque buildup on your teeth - which equals fewer cavities!
So, while you can’t go to the dentist right now for your routine checkup, try doing these 8 things to help keep your teeth healthy while you wait until your dental office opens again. Your teeth (and your hygienist) will thank you!
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