Above all other body parts, our teeth and gums are the ones that require the most maintenance. This maintenance is imperative in order to maintain a long-lasting, white, healthy set of chops. If you don’t look after your teeth properly, you will lose them eventually. That’s why it’s important to begin good oral health practices from a young age and stick to them throughout adult life. Poor oral hygiene can be linked to other more serious diseases. These include diabetes, cancer and heart problems, and the results of not brushing well can prove disastrous. Not looking after your teeth can also result in other negative side effects, such as low self-esteem and stress. Once you start picking up bad habits, you must identify them and eliminate them before they become second nature. So, if you’re stuck in a rut and are wondering how to get your oral health back on track, look no further. This article will cover the five essential steps you should be taking in order to get a fresh set of teeth and gums. Whether you’re young, old or middle-aged, these apply to everybody. So, pick up that toothbrush and get to work!
1. Brushing Frequently
Starting out with the basics here, but you’d be surprised how many people get this one wrong. In fact, studies have shown that a staggering 50 percent of people don’t even brush twice a day. Not good! That’s the very least you should be doing it and some people even brush three times after an unhealthy meal or drink. Many dental experts agree that brushing for a minimum of two minutes is perfect with two and a half minutes being the sweet spot. Of course, there’s no set rule. So, if you want to go for three minutes, feel free. Only you know your teeth and can tell how they feel. Don’t just focus this time on one area of the mouth, though. Yes, you may have been chewing that toffee with the left side. But don’t neglect the right side! Many people don’t spread their brushing time equally, and that can lead to long-term problems in certain areas. So be sure to hit your upper, lower, back and front teeth equally.
2. Flossing and Mouthwash
Once you’ve got your brushing out of the way, it’s time to bring in the supplements. Of course, not many people feel they have the time to brush, mouthwash and floss twice a day, and that’s understandable. That being said, even doing both once a day can contribute to a healthy mouth no-end. Flossing well removes those pesky bits of food, plaque and debris from the hard to reach gaps between your teeth. Your brush won’t get them. So, give it some help! You should take an ample piece of floss – no more than a couple of inches and slide it between your teeth like a saw. Be careful not to go too high or too low or you’ll cause your gums to bleed. Instead, utilize a gentle sawing motion for a few seconds, then move to the next tooth. In terms of mouthwash, the instructions get a little simpler, but no less important. The key here is to keep one eye on the clock! Make sure you rinse for the amount of time stated on the bottle or you won’t get the full benefit.
3. Visit a Dentist Regularly
It goes without saying, but you should be having check-ups every six months or once every 12 months as a minimum. Once you’ve got the barebones brushing and flossing out of the way, you’re on track to some great oral health. But, you still have to be checked. Not just any dentist, though you need to find one you’re comfortable with. Many people choose to visit the dentist with their family in tow, which helps them to feel more relaxed. You can view a family dentistry for details on how this works. But, it’s usually possible to book your whole family at the same time. This way the dentist can act as a pseudo-family day out, which makes the prospect of whatever work you need doing a bit better. Going to the dentist regularly also has the benefit of being able to spot problems early. Picture this. It’s a week after your annual check-up and a problem starts to develop. You have no idea about this and by the time you visit the dentist again in twelve months time, this problem is incurable. However, if you have six month check-ups, the problem will be noticed a lot sooner!
4. Keep Your Diet in Check
Many people think that simply looking after their teeth in the bathroom is enough. But, it’s definitely not. We all consume harmful sugars, acids and bacteria on a daily basis and like any food, it has to be in moderation. So, limit your harmful intake. Here are some examples of foods that can be harmful to the teeth:
- Sugary fruits – oranges, limes, grapes, pineapple. Natural sugar is still sugar!
- Fruit juices of any kind – they’re packed full of damaging sugar.
- Cookies, cakes and biscuits – perhaps choose sugar-free ones?
- Chips, french fries and fritters – packed with salt and stick to the teeth.
- Sweets of any kind – boiled, gummy, chocolate bars, you name it!
It’s all the usual suspects then. But still, be on the lookout. Many will assume fruit is very healthy just because it’s fruit. And, they’re right. But, it still has harmful side effects. With these foods, you want to look at minimizing your intake, wherever possible. For example, instead of drinking a fruit drink, pick up a glass of water or sugar-free juice. Instead of snacking on biscuits, consume a bag of nuts or seeds, a healthy natural snack that has basically no sugar. On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are foods that can help our teeth and mouth. Foods and drinks that are high in calcium work by strengthening our bones and nourishing them with valuable vitamins. Calcium can strengthen the enamel of our teeth building up that protective layer that shields them from damage. Typically, it’s the everyday dairy products that are packed full of nutritious calcium. Here are some products to look out for on your next weekly shop:
- Cheeses – not that fake ‘plastic’ cheese slices you use in burgers, the real stuff!
- Milk – full fat, semi-skimmed or skimmed – it’s got the same dose of calcium.
- Yoghurt – go with a low fat, reduced sugar option, like Greek. Not chocolate.
- Certain meats – not those too high in salt, like gammon and bacon.
There’s no set rule for how much calcium you should consume. But, as long as dairy is part of a balanced diet you’re good! Consider adding a glass of low-fat milk to your evening meal or breakfast for a small boost. Or consume water, which can flush out those bits of food from between your teeth. Your food really is a game of two halves. Some dairy products are better for you; others aren’t. Even some alcoholic beverages can help you out, where others will be damning. Consider the pros and cons of your particular diet before you make a decision.
5. Protect Your Teeth and Gums, wherever Possible
Teeth and gums, like any other body parts can be protected. Of course the situations, where we may need to do so are minimal, but it’s important nonetheless. So, if you regularly partake in a lot of contact sports or dangerous activities, make sure you put your oral shield up! Mouthguards and face shields are your best two options. Mouth guards are commonly worn by rugby and American football players. It protects their teeth and gums from impact. Face shields are also worn by American football players as well as baseball players. These are the cage like masks that can stop your whole face as well as your teeth from being touched. If you grind your teeth regularly, it might also be worth buying a mouth guard. Grinding wears down the enamel fast and can even chip your teeth. As per the damage sources, there are several sneaky culprits to watch out for. The biggest of these is the sun. And, those frequent sunbathing sessions in the summer aren’t helping your chops! Ultraviolet light can damage the lips, teeth and gums. So, for those considering UV teeth bleaching, don’t.
If you’ve followed these five essential steps, you’ll be well on your way to some sublime oral health! Like any other part of our body, our mouths must be looked after with all the strength we can muster. Poor oral health can lead to low self-esteem as well as health issues. If you lose your teeth and gums, you aren’t getting them back. If you chip a tooth, it can be hard to put it back to normal again. The point is you may only have one set of these things and one chance to look after them well. So take that chance!