Keep your family’s gums and teeth healthy for a lifetime by following these 10 tips for good oral health. You’ll help them keep their smiles bright, avoid toothaches and cavities, and even improve their overall health.
Good oral hygiene can be maintained by spending a few minutes each day on flossing and brushing, along with making smart choices about what you eat and drink. In fact, just about all gum disease and tooth decay can be prevented with proper oral hygiene. Additionally, recent research has linked gum disease to other health issues, including an elevated chance of heart disease.
Here’s 10 tips to help your family maintain good oral hygiene from their early years to retirement and beyond.
Begin at an early age. Your child’s first tooth will appear around six months, and that is when you should start your child’s dental care. Start by wiping their teeth with a clean, damp cloth or an extra-soft toothbrush. Once they reach the age of 2, let them try brushing their teeth themselves while you supervise. If you begin when they are young, you can help your child not be one of the 50 percent of kids between 12 and 15 who have cavities.
Get sealed. Dental sealants are thin protective coatings that your dentist applies to your child’s back teeth to prevent decay. A good time to do this is when you child’s permanent molars come in, which is usually around 6.
Be a friend to fluoride. The good news is that three out of four citizens of the United States drinks water that is fluoridated. But if you drink mainly bottled water, you’re skipping the fluoride, and missing out on the enamel-strengthening fluoride provides. Most toothpastes and mouth rinses have fluoride in them, and you can ask your dentist about having fluoride applied to your teeth the next time you are in for a visit.
Practice a 2+1 regimen. Get in the habit – and stay in the habit – of brushing twice a day and flossing once a day. Plus, be sure to switch to a new toothbrush every three months.
Be a swisher or a chewer After meals, swish your mouth with an antibacterial rinse and/or chew sugar-free gum. The antibacterial rinse will kill bacteria in your mouth, and they are the initial culprit in the formation of a cavity. Chewing gum increases the flow of saliva to your mouth, and saliva washes away that dreaded bacteria and the acids they produce.
Use a mouth guard. If you have a son or daughter playing contact sports, then invest in a custom-fitted mouth guard to ensure their future oral health. Your dentist can make a custom fitting and order a mouth guard for them at an affordable cost.
Give up the tobacco. Tobacco and good oral health do not go well together. Smoking – or chewing tobacco – inevitably leads to stained teeth and boosts your risk of gum disease and oral cancer. If you use tobacco, stop. If you don’t use tobacco, don’t start.
Be a smart eater. Your teeth and gums will love you if you eat a healthy diet. Your gums and teeth will get all the nutrients they need if you stick to a well-balanced diet heavy on whole foods. And eat fish – the omega-3 fats found in fish have been shown to reduce inflammation, which will lower your risk of gum disease.
Say no to sugary foods. The bacteria in your mouth (remember them) love sugar, because they consume it and then produce acids. Those acids attack your tooth’s enamel, which can lead to tooth decay. Two sugar-filled items to really avoid are sugary drinks (soft drinks and fruit drinks), which you tend to sip and thus raise the acid levels in your mouth for an extended period of time, and sticky candies, which attach to your teeth.
See your dentist regularly. Make sure to see your dentist every six months for a hygiene visit and a check-up. That way, any plaque that you haven’t been able to remove will be removed, and any signs of decay will be spotted. Your dentist will also check for any signs of oral cancer or gum disease, and if you are grinding your teeth.
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