Maintaining good dental health is essential. Not only does it contribute to your overall well-being, but it can also boost your self-confidence (and help you avoid costly dental bills down the road!). Although dental care may seem expensive, the good news is that you can do many things to improve your dental health at home.
Here are a few no-brainer tips:
1. Brush Your Teeth Twice Daily
This one seems obvious, but it’s worth repeating. Brushing your teeth twice a day—once in the morning and once at night—is the best way to remove plaque and bacteria that can cause tooth decay and gum disease.
Be sure to use a soft-bristled toothbrush and toothpaste that contains fluoride (within moderation). It’s good to swap the fluoride for something safer, too, and rotate fluoride in for deep cleaning every once in a while. And don’t forget to brush your tongue, too!
2. Floss Daily
Like brushing, flossing is essential for preventing tooth decay and gum disease. Use about 18 inches of floss, wrapping most of it around each middle finger. Gently insert the floss between each tooth, using a back-and-forth motion. Next, curve the floss around the base of each tooth in a C shape, making sure to go under the gumline. Use a clean section of floss for each tooth before moving on to the next one.
3. Eat A Balanced Diet
Eating a healthy diet is good for your overall health, and your dental health, too. Whenever possible, limit sugary snacks and drinks as these can lead to cavities. Instead, choose foods that contain calcium and phosphorus, which help to keep your teeth strong. A few examples of this are milk, cheese, yogurt, leafy green vegetables, nuts, and seeds. In addition to eating healthy foods, be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day, too.
4. Quit Smoking
If you smoke cigarettes or use other tobacco products, now is the time to quit! In addition to increasing your risk of developing cancer, smoking increases your risk of gum disease and other dental problems such as bad breath, stained teeth, and slow healing after dental surgery or extractions.
5. See Your Dentist Regularly
Even if you brush and floss regularly at home, it’s still important to see your dentist every six months for a professional cleaning and checkup—especially if you have diabetes or another condition that puts you at increased risk for gum disease.
6. Use Quality Products
In addition to brushing and flossing regularly, you can use other dental products to help keep your teeth and gums healthy. These include tongue scrapers, which remove bacteria and food debris from the tongue; oral rinses, which help reduce plaque; and interdental cleaners, which clean between teeth.
7. Limit Teeth Whiteners
If you want a brighter smile, you should talk to your dentist first. Many over-the-counter teeth whitening products are safe (even when used as directed). Some, ironically, even contain harsh chemicals that can damage tooth enamel and cause gum irritation!
At-home dental care is essential, but it is only part of maintaining good dental health. Be sure to see your dentist regularly and if you notice something is ‘off,’ don’t wait until it’s too late to start asking questions and seeking answers.