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I bet you didn’t know we could come up with 13 different ways to keep your teeth healthy, but here we are! Other than the standard recommendations for good oral hygiene like brushing and flossing each day, which—don’t get me wrong—are crucial to healthy teeth and good oral health, there are other steps you can take to ramp stuff up a notch.
Think about it; we brush and floss our teeth, but do we clean off our tongues? Our tongues can affect our oral health due to the extensive number of bacteria that build up across its rough, bumpy surface. If you don’t clean your tongue, bacteria levels can increase on your tongue AND lead to more buildup on tooth surfaces as well. Think of scraping your tongue as managing the levels more efficiently.
For best results, use an actual tongue scraper. These will often look like a U-shaped metal or plastic pieces that you press down onto the tongue's surface to wipe away unwanted bacteria.
Bonus: it will also help you have fresher breath!
Alcohol has many effects on our bodies, and it does not discriminate when it comes to our mouths. Consuming alcohol can dehydrate us, leading to decreased saliva production and a dry mouth. That’s one reason why mouth rinse with alcohol in it isn’t good for people who have dry mouth.
Dry mouth from alcohol can increase bleeding responses in our gum tissues and increase our risk of developing tooth decay if chronic. Drinks containing alcohol are also highly acidic, which can break down the outer layer of our teeth, known as enamel. Consuming alcohol on a frequent basis can also increase your risk of developing oral cancer.
When it comes to keeping our teeth healthy, limiting alcohol is the best choice. Keep in mind if you are having a glass of champagne to celebrate every now and then, don’t worry too much, once in a while is OK. Just remember, balance is key! Always remember to stay hydrated.
This may seem obvious, but there are many individuals, young and old, who are brushing their teeth the wrong way. This alone can impact your chances of keeping your gums and teeth healthy. What dental professionals call the “Bass method” is the most popular recommendation. This technique aims your toothbrush bristles at a 45-degree angle toward the gumline, with gentle back-and-forth strokes, and always using soft bristles.
Do this twice a day for a full two minutes each time you brush. Clean all of the surfaces of each tooth, including the front, back sides, and everything in between. This will ensure you are working towards keeping your teeth—and your gums—as healthy as possible!
I highly recommend downloading my oral hygiene routine guide to get your routine down pat! A good oral hygiene routine can prevent expensive oral health problems and is critical for healthy teeth and gums!
If I could give any advice regarding brushing your teeth to keep them healthy, ALWAYS brushing before you go to bed at night. No matter what. So, what’s the big deal if you don’t brush before heading to sleep? When you do, it allows bacteria to continue growing while you sleep.
Plus, saliva flow slows down while you’re sleeping, providing a prime location for dental plaque. By allowing bacteria to accumulate, acid levels in your mouth increase as well. With an overall more acidic environment in your mouth, your teeth are more likely to suffer from breakdown of the enamel layer. This leads to an increased risk of tooth decay, bleeding gums, gum disease, and even bad breath when you wake up! By brushing before bed, you remove plaque bacteria and food debris to keep your teeth healthy.
One of the top recommendations dental professionals will ever make is incorporating fluoride toothpaste into your daily home care routine. The American Dental Association recommends you brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride toothpaste can reduce tooth decay and help improve tooth sensitivity, plus it serves as a great adjunct to your overall oral hygiene routine to ensure your teeth are as healthy as they can be.
Fluoride toothpaste is a great tool for anyone who struggles with recurring cavities and has difficulty getting them under control. Fluoride toothpaste can be found over the counter, as well as in prescription form from your dentist.
Staying hydrated helps keep your teeth healthy and cleaner throughout the day! By drinking plenty of water, you help to hydrate your body which helps maintain proper saliva levels in your mouth and can assist in balancing acid levels.
Sipping on water will reduce harsh dry mouth effects, and naturally wash away food debris and particles that might have otherwise stuck to tooth and gum surfaces. Bonus points if you’re drinking fluoridated tap water!
For those of us that may clench or grind our teeth, wearing a night guard is an easy and effective way to keep your teeth healthy! By wearing a night guard, you can protect your tooth enamel and dental work from the intense pressure and wear that occurs when you grind your teeth together.
If you clench and/or grind your teeth, it’s not a matter of if, but when they start to break down. Extensive tooth wear can lead to hypersensitivity and the need for more involved restorative work, not to mention replacing existing fillings and crowns. It can even prevent tooth loss in extreme cases.
If you notice headaches first thing in the morning or if you catch yourself clenching during the day, it may be time to talk to your dental professional about a night guard.
A great addition to any oral hygiene routine, a water flosser can work wonders for keeping your gums and teeth healthy! While everyone can benefit from using a water flosser, some individuals may benefit even more.
Like people with braces, orthodontic appliances, bridges, implants, or those who struggle with their hand dexterity, water flossers can be extremely helpful. Water flossers allow you to flush out food debris and bacteria that accumulates between your teeth and even inside of periodontal pockets under your gums.
You heard me right! While carbohydrates can be one of the top foods causing tooth decay, they are also an essential part of a healthy and balanced diet. Some experts recommend eating your carbohydrate sources FIRST when you sit down for a meal, as this will result in fewer plaque bacteria compared to eating your carbs after everything else.
By eating a healthy diet of carbohydrates first, followed by fats and proteins, it creates a balanced environment in your mouth and can—in the long run—lead to a fewer negative effects on your teeth.
Medical and dental professionals recommend that you stay away from any and all tobacco products. All these products will do is cause harm to your oral and systemic health. Tobacco products increase the risk of periodontal disease, dry mouth, cavity risk, and of course the most concerning risk, oral and throat cancer.
This can be in the form of cigarettes and chewing tobacco products. All of them also contribute to poor blood circulation, poor immune response, and are detrimental to your health. If you want healthy teeth, do not use any tobacco products. There is no healthy balance when it comes to using tobacco. If you use them, talk to a professional who can help you quit and provide resources that set you up for success.
This one is easier said than done, but that does not make it any less important. If you are stressed, you are more likely to clench and grind your teeth, suffer from dry mouth, and have a weaker immune response (meaning a bigger chance of having gum disease.)
If you are struggling with managing stress in your life, it's important to reach out to a professional that can help you manage your feelings. Therapy, exercise, meditation and good nutrition have all been shown to help reduce stress levels in the body. Talk to your doctor or mental health professional for more information.
This has got to be the most well-known recommendation you will hear when you visit your dentist. Limiting sugar—especially the liquid ones, like what you drink every day—will reduce your risk of tooth decay. High sugar and sweetener consumption will lead to increased risk of tooth decay, the need for more extensive (and expensive) restorative work, and affect acid levels in you mouth.
Limiting sugar in your diet and significantly reduce the amount of time and money you’ll have to spend at the dentist. It's up to you!
Speaking of your dentist, you have to actually go see them routinely to ensure you have healthy teeth. Just because you don’t feel anything in your mouth does not mean that there are no concerns! Ideally, be sure you see your dentist and dental hygienist at least twice a year or every six months for professional cleanings, exams, and diagnostic X-rays.
A healthy smile is all about prevention with a proper oral hygiene routine and monitoring what your teeth are exposed to every day. While there are certainly more recommendations than just this list, these 13 tips are a great start when you want to improve your oral health and have a healthy smile for the rest of your life.
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