Poor diet, using tobacco, too much alcohol, improper oral hygiene all contribute to an unhealthy mouth and poor teeth. You may need extensive dental treatment but there are things you can do at home to better your smile too and it starts with nutrition.
Nutrition and Oral Health
Healthy nutrition means eating a balanced diet, so that your body gets all the nutrients in needs on a daily basis. If you are serious about your dental health, you should avoid eating large quantities of food containing starches and sugars, as these produce a high acid content in your mouth. The longer these acids remain in your mouth, the more damage they will cause your teeth and gums. For this reason, sucking candies can be particularly harmful because of the length of time they are in your mouth. It’s particularly important to brush your teeth following a sugary snack or after eating starchy foods such as potato chips. Foods to avoid to protect your teeth:
- Sugary chewing gum.
- Candy or toffee.
- Cookies and cakes.
- Chips, crackers or breadsticks.
Correct Brushing is Important
Ideally you should brush your teeth after every meal. If this is not always practical, you should brush at least twice a day. Here are some other tips to brush up on your oral hygiene.
- Use a soft toothbrush with a pea-sized blob of toothpaste on the bristles.
- Hold your brush at a 45-degree angle to your gum line.
- Use a circular motion to rub the brush against your teeth, cleaning one tooth at a time.
- Make sure the tips of the bristles move against your gum line, but don’t press so hard that the bristles are lying flat against your teeth.
- Use the same motion to clean the inside and outside of the teeth as well as the chewing surfaces.
- Use the tips of your toothbrush bristles to give your tongue a few gentle downward strokes. Don’t press down too hard or the bristles will irritate the surface of your tongue.
- After you have brushed your teeth for two minutes, rinse your mouth with cold water.
- You should always replace your toothbrush with a fresh one every three months.
Don’t Forget to Floss
You should floss at least twice each day, morning and night. This will remove plaque from between the teeth in areas where your toothbrush is unable to reach. Plaque which remains between the teeth will eventually harden into tartar, which must be removed by your dentist.
How to Floss
- Use an 18-inch length of dental floss.
- Wrap the ends of the floss around your middle fingers on each hand, leaving only an inch-long section of floss for working between your teeth.
- Floss your upper teeth first then work along the bottom row.
- Push the strip of floss between your teeth with your index finger, but don’t push it so far down that it touches your gums.
- Slowly move the floss up and down between the teeth.
- Floss between each of your teeth and behind your teeth at the back.
- As you move along your teeth, use a fresh section of floss, winding it around your fingers.
Rinsing your Mouth
Adding an antibacterial mouthwash to your daily dental hygiene routine will further reduce the build-up of plaque-forming bacteria. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends a daily mouthwash to help reduce and prevent tooth decay. Children who are six years old or younger should not use mouth rinses containing fluoride, as they may swallow some.
Make Regular Dentist Visits
You should make regular visits to your dentist every six months, this way you can avoid having to go because of the need for urgent dental care. Regular check-ups and professional cleaning will ensure your teeth and gums remain healthy. You should make a visit to your dentist at any time you have any of the following symptoms:
- Tooth or jaw pain.
- Cavities or tooth decay.
- Loose teeth.
- Tender or swollen gums.
- Bleeding gums when you floss or brush.
- Gums that are drawing away from your teeth.
- Changes in the alignment between your top and bottom teeth.
- Sudden sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures.
- Bad breath.
- A persistent unusual taste in your mouth.
Proper diet and oral hygiene practices are important not only for your teeth but for your overall health. If you care for your teeth and gums properly, they will stay healthy throughout your life and you will have less chance of developing gum disease and tooth decay. You will also reduce your risk of developing heart disease and diabetes, both of which have been linked to periodontal disease.
Mike Plambeck is a dental marketing professional who writes about the world of online dental marketing as well as educational dental health topics. He lives in Lincoln, NE and raises 2 kids, Noah and Dani, along with his wife Marissa.