Maintaining a picture-perfect smile isn’t easy, but it isn’t impossible either. All it needs is some motivation and consistency. As adults, it is difficult to fit regular oral care into our hectic routines. It is also appealing to believe that oral hygiene is a major concern only for children.
In California, statistics revealed that 41% of adults from low-income families hadn’t visited the dentist once during the last year, and 39% reported having poor or fair oral health. Even as adults, oral hygiene needs to be a priority. Fortunately, it is entirely possible to maintain your teeth in perfect condition if only you keep in mind the following tips:
1. Eat Healthy
Prevention is better than cure, right? What you eat is the major contributing factor to poor oral health, and the first step to maintaining good hygiene is ensuring that your teeth aren’t vulnerable to plaque.
Sweetened and sugary foods are the prime culprit behind plaque; in other words, sugar is food for the bacteria that naturally grow on your teeth. When bacteria feed on this sugar, they produce acid that can cause cavities. So, cutting down on soft drinks, candy, sweetened beverages, and the like is a must.
At the same time, some foods – including leafy greens, cheese, yogurt, and almonds – help strengthen your teeth and should be increased in the diet but in moderation.
2. Visit the Dentist Every Six Months
Regular oral exams are the only way to catch a problem in time and prevent it from escalating to serious issues like gum disease. Even something as seemingly minor as plaque – if left untreated – can escalate to gum disease and tooth decay.
In California, you can book regular appointments with Hidden Valley Orthodontics for routine check-ups and orthodontic treatments ranging from Invisalign to ceramic braces and more.
In addition to a routine check, your dental visit should also include professional cleaning and screening for more serious problems like oral cancer. If you have dental insurance, it will cover your routine exams, but even if you don’t, try not to be negligent.
3. Brush Twice a Day
Listening to the same advice since childhood must have become redundant, but remember that brushing regularly is as important today as it was years ago. The simplest, most basic step to good oral hygiene is to brush thoroughly – at least two minutes – twice a day (the famous 2×2 rule).
More than just ensuring how often you brush; it is necessary to be careful about how you do it; remember to brush in small and circular motions with a soft-bristled brush.
Don’t apply too much force, and make sure the head of the brush is angled towards the gums. Ideally, your brush should be angled at 45 degrees. Also, ensure that you brush along the gums and behind the teeth thoroughly.
4. Use Fluoride-Based Toothpaste
The American Dental Association recommends using fluoride-based toothpaste, especially if the water in your area doesn’t include fluoride. Fluoride is a naturally occurring component that prevents cavities, strengthens the enamel, limits the growth of bacteria, slows mineral loss from enamel, fights off germs, and creates a protective layer over the teeth.
Yes, recently, there has been some scrutiny around the use of fluoride in toothpaste because of other potential health risks. However, if your water supply doesn’t have too much fluoride – which is the case with California – fluoride is safe to use and encouraged by orthodontists.
In California, there has been an increase in water fluoridation, but even then, it ranks 40th among states in terms of the percentage of residents getting fluoridated water.
5. Floss Daily
Many who brush regularly feel tempted to skip flossing; brushing alone is not enough. Flossing ensures that no part of the teeth or gums is left out after a thorough brushing.
Brushing cannot reach every nook and cranny in your mouth, and small food particles that get missed will, over time, lead to plaque and cause decay. Add at least 2 minutes of flossing to your daily routine and make sure you do it right; use the floss to hug the sides of the teeth and move it up and down.
When you first start flossing, you are likely to experience some sensitivity and pain; don’t let this deter you. When your gums get used to flossing, it will not hurt anymore.
6. Quit Smoking and Alcohol
Yes! As hard as that might be to admit, smoking, tobacco, and alcohol are all deadly for your oral hygiene. Cigarettes and tobacco are known to cause gum disease, oral cancers, oral leukoplakia, and tooth decay. It also lowers your mouth’s ability to recover from gum disease and injury.
Approximately 43% of adults above the age of 65 who are regular smokers have lost all their teeth. Alcohol, on the other hand, can cause periodontal disease, oral cancer, dental caries, staining, tooth wear, and halitosis. It also causes dryness in the mouth, which encourages the growth of bacteria and plaque.
Looking after your dental hygiene is as important as it is to look after any other aspect of your physical or mental well-being. Negligence can have serious long-term consequences, so remember to reduce sugar intake, visit the dentist frequently, brush and floss regularly, use fluoride, and quit smoking and alcohol. A little effort at this point will go a long way in ensuring that your teeth remain healthy and disease-free.