We hear a lot about the importance of eating a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables, taking vitamin supplements, and getting enough exercise as ways to support our overall health. It’s not often, though, that we hear about the importance of good oral health and the things we should do in order to maintain it.
Good oral health and dental hygiene are important for preventing tooth decay, bad breath, and gum disease. Taking care of your teeth can also make your teeth whiter and more attractive, and help you keep your teeth as you get older. Most people don’t realize that there is also a connection between their oral health and their overall health, and that issues with your oral health can affect the rest of your body.
There is some evidence that oral bacteria and periodontitis (severe gum disease) can play a role in several serious health issues, such as heart disease, and in pregnant women giving birth prematurely or to underweight babies. Likewise, certain diseases, like diabetes and osteoporosis, can lower the body’s resistance to infection, making existing oral health problems much more serious.
See below for some ideas for things you can do at home to maintain good oral health and help boost your overall wellbeing.
Practice Proper Oral Hygiene
It might seem obvious, but regularly brushing and flossing your teeth is one of the best ways to maintain good oral health. Make sure to use a soft bristled toothbrush. Many dentists also recommend using an electric toothbrush because they can more effective at removing plaque and bacteria below the gum line than a traditional toothbrush.
Electric toothbrushes are available in a number of models and price ranges. Many models are rechargeable, while others use conventional batteries. If you are interested in trying an electric toothbrush and aren’t sure what type to buy you can ask your dentist for recommendations.
Some dentists also recommend the use of a water pick device to remove food and plaque from your teeth that can be difficult to reach using a traditional toothbrush. Water picks are often recommended for people who wear braces or who wear other dental devices. Water picks are relatively inexpensive and are available at many retail stores as well as from some dentist offices.
Flossing is one of the easiest, least expensive and most important things you can do to maintain your oral health. You should floss at least twice a day, but mostly importantly before you go to bed. Dental floss is available in a number of thicknesses and textures, so you might want to experiment with a few before you find one that fits your mouth and flossing style.
Get Regular Dental Cleanings
While getting regular dental cleanings might seem to be an obvious way to maintain good oral health, a surprising number of people don’t bother to get them. For most people, dental cleanings are recommended every six months. Cleanings are important not just for removing tartar and bacteria from your teeth, your dentist or oral hygienist will also be able to examine your mouth to look for evidence of tooth decay, cracked or chipped teeth, oral cancers and gum disease. Regular dental x-rays can also help detect problems such as abscesses, cavities and bone loss.
Find a Good Family Dentist
If it’s been a while since you’ve been to the dentist, or you need to find a new dentist, you should look for a family dental practice that handles a number of common tooth and gum issues. Juban Cowen Dental Care in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is a good example.
Although finding a new dentist might seem like a difficult task, reading online reviews or asking family and friends for recommendations are usually good ways to find a dentist you will like and trust. Remember, too, that if you don’t like a dentist or don’t feel comfortable after your first visit, you are not obligated to continue seeing them. It’s OK to switch to another practice.
Don’t Put Off Having Dental Issues Checked Out
One of the biggest mistakes people make when it comes to their oral health is waiting too long to have dental issues like cavities and broken teeth looked at by a dentist. Many times, if they are caught early, cavities and other issues can be repaired quickly, easily and at minimum cost. Waiting to address problems like these, however, can result in the issues becoming more severe and expensive to treat; leading to pain that can cause difficulty chewing, abscesses and sometimes the need for a root canal or porcelain crown.