Dental health is probably one of the most important topics to talk about in regard to general health, but it is a topic not often addressed in regular conversation. That’s why there is a lot of confusion about what causes bad oral hygiene and what you can do about it. And this confusion often leads to frustration, which makes people avoid mouth care altogether.
The key is to understand the basics and dedicatedly follow through. Here are a few dental health dos and don’ts that every expert recommends.
Dos of good dental health
Brush twice a day
Two important things to remember about brushing that even those who brush twice a day forget:
- The best time to brush is after the morning coffee and right before bedtime.
- Don't be in a rush when you are brushing. Make sure to give 2 minutes to your oral care two times every day and go over every part of your mouth, including the back of all your teeth.
In addition, be mindful of the amount of toothpaste you use. Dentists usually recommend using only a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste to help prevent cavities and other oral issues.
Pay attention to your tongue and gums
Healthy gums gradually recede from the teeth as we age; but if they are receding faster than that, you may have gum disease and should see a dentist right away while adopting better oral care habits.
Regular check-ups and professional cleanings once every six months or every time you notice a change in your gums, such as bleeding, redness, or swelling, are enough to maintain good dental health. But for complete oral care, you need to take your dental routine a step further.
The surface of the tongue is very sensitive to changes in diet and hygiene. A healthy tongue is pink in color, with smooth edges. If you notice your tongue becoming white or yellow, it is a sign of poor oral hygiene. In extreme cases, yellowing may also be a sign of digestive problems or infection. But you can easily avoid them by removing dead cells and food build-up on the tongue using a toothbrush or tongue scraper.
Drink plenty of water after eating and drinking
When your mouth is dry, bacteria in your mouth can grow faster and cause bad breath as well as many oral health problems. In order to avoid this, make sure you drink plenty of water after meals and drinks. This will help to keep your mouth moist and free from bacteria growth.
Besides, drinking water throughout the day will help remove debris from your mouth. Water also helps rinse away food particles and saliva, which contain acids that break down tooth enamel over time. By preventing build-up in your mouth, you can avoid tooth decay and gum diseases.
Avoid grinding your teeth
Grinding can be caused by stress, anxiety, a misaligned bite, or even teeth grinding in your sleep. It is also common in those suffering from sleep apnea or insomnia.
If you grind your teeth, you will experience soreness and tenderness in the muscles of your face, jaw, and neck as well as headaches, earaches, ringing in the ears, and dizziness. You will also have problems with biting or chewing solid food properly or experience damage to the enamel on your teeth.
To eliminate grinding, you can either opt for a mouthguard while sleeping or consult a dentist for an appropriate solution.
Choose nutrient-rich foods over junk
Dental health is directly related to nutrition. From vitamin C and zinc to phosphorus and calcium, here is a list of food items that can keep your teeth and gums healthy:
- Cut down on sugar. Sugars like soda, candy, and even fruit juice can contribute to tooth decay, so avoid them. If you cannot cut back on your sugar intake, at least brush your teeth soon after eating or drinking something sugary.
- Eat fresh fruits and vegetables. Vegetables are chock-full of vitamins A and C, both important to dental health. Fruits provide minerals like calcium, which help prevent tooth decay.
Include dry-roasted nuts. Dried fruit and nuts provide B vitamins, including folic acid, which helps reduce the risk of cavities by boosting the body's ability to make new cells. They also contain fiber, provide protein, and healthy fats that are critical for oral health because they help build strong teeth and gums.
- Look for whole grains. Whole-grain bread and pasta typically have fewer sugars, making them less likely to cause tooth decay than their white counterparts. Moreover, fiber, a major component of whole grains, also helps reduce plaque formation on teeth.
- Choose low-fat dairy products instead of high-fat ones. Cheeses, milk, yogurt, and other dairy products often contain high levels of saturated fat - a fat that can actually cause or contribute to gum disease if consumed too frequently.
Don’ts of good dental health
Use a hard-bristled toothbrush
Hard-bristled brushes are usually the first kind of toothbrush that people try - and many people continue to use them for life. Their bristles are pretty stiff, which is what makes them effective at removing plaque and food from your teeth. But the downside to using a hard-bristled brush is that it can wear away the enamel on your teeth over time. This can put you at risk for developing a cavity and other dental diseases.
On the other hand, soft-bristled brushes don't clean as well as their harsher counterparts, but they don't damage your teeth as much either. If you have sensitive gums, this might be the best option for you, because it will be less likely to irritate them. That's what makes them more sustainable than their hard-bristled counterparts.
Flossing between teeth helps remove plaque from areas where your toothbrush can't reach. It also helps reduce gingivitis and the formation of tartar - a hard yellow buildup on your teeth - which can lead to cavities.
Drink black tea, coffee, or soda
Black tea, coffee, and aerated drinks contain a high level of acidity, which causes tooth decay and erosion. The tannic acid in these drinks can also temporarily stain your teeth. Over time, these acids can eat away at tooth enamel. This can increase your risk of developing cavities. So, if you are looking to commit to a better dental routine, avoid these common beverages.
Use alcohol-based mouthwashes
Alcohol-based mouthwashes are popular because they are effective at killing germs and preventing bad breath. However, their alcohol content can dry out your gums and irritate the inside of your mouth, causing sores and sensitive spots.
Alcohol is also a diuretic, which means that it causes your body to lose water. This can lead to dry mouth, thirst, and dehydration as well as cause stinging and burning.
Sleep with your mouth open
Sleeping with your mouth open can make you run the risk of developing a dry mouth or even snoring. This can lead to morning soreness, increased tooth sensitivity and bad breath, tooth decay, and gum disease. If you have been experiencing this, it is crucial to involve a dentist and find an appropriate solution as soon as possible to maintain good dental health.
Avoid the dentist
The best prevention for dental problems is a good dentist. Going to the dentist regularly (ideally once in every six months) will help you catch problems early; that is, when they are easier to fix. If you avoid the dentist out of fear or because you dislike the idea of having somebody meddle with your oral care, it can set you up for a lifetime of dental problems.
Leave your toothbrush in the open after use
There are many reasons why you should always cover your toothbrush after use. First and foremost, it prevents bacteria formation, which can enter your body and cause infection.
As a matter of fact, bacteria can live on your toothbrush after you use it, even if you put it in a closed container. That’s why BrushGuard is such an important dental essential. It is a hygienic storage solution that prevents cross-contamination and airborne germs, making your toothbrush safe to use every single time. Learn more about BrushGuard here.