There is more to good oral health than simply brushing your teeth at bedtime. Although brushing and flossing are important, there are a number of other steps you should take if you want your teeth to last a lifetime. Good oral health is also essential for your overall general health. For example, poor oral hygiene is linked to several serious illnesses, including heart disease, diabetes and cancer. The following 5 tips will guide you through the steps you should take for good oral health.
Understand Your Individual Oral Health Needs
It is important to talk with your dentist about any special conditions affecting your mouth as well as the ways your medical/health conditions could affect your oral health. For example, women who are pregnant experience a range of oral changes, including inflammation of the gums and someone with asthma typically breathes through their mouth, especially when sleeping, which can result in an increase of plaque formation, dry mouth and/or gingivitis. Someone who wears braces may have difficulty cleaning their teeth, which may cause them to get more cavities. If you are taking certain medications, it may reduce the amount of saliva in your mouth, which causes dry mouth. These situations can all have an impact on your oral health and may require a change in the care of your teeth and/or gums.
Brush & Floss Daily
Although it is best to brush your teeth after each meal and snack, you should brush your teeth at least twice each day (in the morning and at bedtime). Flossing should be done at least once a day, preferably before brushing to help loosen the food particles that are hiding between teeth. Brushing and flossing will help remove plaque, which can lead to tooth decay if not removed. Continued neglect of brushing and flossing can cause bacterial plaque, which also causes periodontal diseases, such as gingivitis. It is also recommended that you use a good source of fluoride daily, whether it is obtained through toothpaste or mouth rinse.
Eat Healthy and Limit Snacking
Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet is essential for getting enough minerals and vitamins to help keep teeth strong and gums healthy. Avoid foods that contain sugars and starches. Each time you eat these types of foods, your teeth are exposed to acids that can break down the enamel, which leads to cavities.
If You Use Any Type of Tobacco Products, Quit
Smoking tobacco and smokeless tobacco significantly increase your risk of getting oral cancer, peritonitis, cancers of the larynx, pharynx and esophagus and tooth decay. Using tobacco products also cause tooth discoloration, bad breath and other general and oral health problems.
Examine Your Mouth, Teeth & Gums
Becoming familiar with the appearance of your mouth, teeth and gums through regular self examinations will allow you to catch any changes at an early stage. Even if you visit your dentist on a regular basis, you should examine your mouth weekly to look for any changes, especially if you are a tobacco user. Some of the changes you should look for include:
- Chipped teeth
- Swollen gums
- Sores or lesions on your cheeks, gums or tongue
- Discolored teeth
Along with these tips, it is essential that you visit your dentist routinely. If you have a history of dental problems, health problems that may affect your mouth or if you are a smoker, you should talk with your dentist more frequently.