A bright smile with healthy teeth requires consistent care throughout your life. Additionally, dental issues and gum disease have direct influences on your overall health, such as the link between gum disease and heart disease. Fortunately, appropriate care doesn’t require much time or money. There are five steps in basic dental care:
- Brushing two to three times a day
- Flossing at bedtime
- Using mouthwash
- Drinking more water
- Eating for stronger teeth
Many people are aware of these steps but don’t know the correct way to carry them out or don’t understand the importance of each step.
1. Brushing Throughout Your Day
Daily brushing is probably the first thing you think about when creating your dental care routine. Proper brushing (gently using circular motions to reach the fronts and backs of all your teeth) removes plaque before it hardens. What many people don’t understand is that plaque begins to form right after you put something in your mouth. This is why many experts recommend brushing after each meal and snack. However, if you brush two or three times a day, especially before going to bed, you can rinse your mouth with water after other meals and snacks. Don’t forget to brush your tongue.
2. Daily and Nightly Flossing
Many adults know they should floss but don’t fully understand the importance of daily flossing. While toothbrushes remove a lot of food and plaque from the teeth, they can’t get into all of the tight spaces between the teeth. Consistent flossing is the best way to prevent cavities and other dental decay from those hard-to-reach areas. If you can only floss once a day, it should be at night, so plaque doesn’t have the chance to harder overnight. When plaque hardens into calculus or tartar, it causes a weakening of the enamel and may affect gum health.
3. Using Antibacterial Mouthwash
Mouthwash is another aspect of dental health that is often neglected. While it is often used to fight bad breath, the real advantages of mouthwash include removing harmful bacteria from the mouth and remineralizing the teeth. Remineralization is important for reversing tooth decay, reduce sensitivity, control dental pain, and protect the health of tooth enamel. A good quality mouthwash may also clean germs away from soft areas of the mouth, the crevices of your teeth, and your gumline.
4. Drinking More Water for Dental Health
If you aren’t already drinking plenty of water each day, you should consider how water affects your overall health and dental health. There are several reasons to increase the amount of water you drink each day:
- Healthier joints, skin, and kidney function
- Formation of saliva
- Cushioning of the brain, spinal cord, and other tissues
- Improved regulation of body temperature
- Delivery of oxygen throughout the body and airways
- Better digestion and absorption of food, minerals, and nutrients
- Improved physical performance and help with weight loss
In addition to all of these reasons for drinking water, there are important dental health benefits, including washing away bits of food after eating, rinsing away sugars and other sticky substances left behind after meals and sodas, strengthening teeth with fluoride, fighting dry mouth, and replacing sugary drinks.
5. Eating Tooth Friendly Foods
Choosing food specifically for oral health is one of the most overlooked aspects of a dental care routine. You may be fully aware of the need to stay away from sugary foods and drinks, but you should also know that some foods provide nutrients specifically for your teeth and gums need:
- Calcium from milk, yogurt, and cheese fortifies tooth enamel and the bones along your gumline.
- Vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium and is found in fish, egg yolks, and sunlight.
- Phosphorus, calcium, and other nutrients are found in nuts. You may also get valuable jaw exercise from crunching an assortment of nuts.
- Add some raisins to your nuts because raisins contain oleanolic, a phytochemical, that kills harmful mouth bacteria.
- Garlic and onions provide some antibacterial benefits that help you avoid periodontal (gum) disease.
- Textured foods, such as apples, carrots, and celery, have many vitamins and nutrients, and they also provide some natural scrubbing that removes plaque.
Your dentist may have more recommendations about the foods that have specific benefits for your mental health.
With a deeper understanding of how dental health affects your overall health and more information about each of the five steps in basic dental care routines, you can begin today to boost the health of your teeth, your gums, and your entire body. What other suggestions has your dentist offered? Can you recognize the benefits of good dental hygiene in your life?