10 tips for your oral health
Good dental health care is important to maintaining healthy teeth, gums and tongue. Oral problems such as bad breath, dry mouth, sores and cavities are all treatable with the proper diagnosis and treatment.
- Don’t smoke or use smokeless tobacco. Smoking causes bad breath, tooth discoloration, increased loss of bone within the jaw, increased risk of developing oral cancer and increased risk of gum disease which leads to tooth loss. Smoking and other tobacco products can lead to gum disease by affecting the attachment of bone and soft tissue to your teeth.
- Start children early. Dental care should begin as soon as a child’s first tooth comes out which is around 6 months. Teeth can be wiped with a clean white damp cloth or a very soft toothbrush. At 2 years old, kids can brush themselves, but you should still supervise. At around 6 years old, thin protective coatings are applied on the back teeth to prevent decay.
- Use fluoride, but not too much. It strengthens the enamel which makes it less likely to decay. Water usually has fluoride in it, but if it doesn’t, talk to your dental professional, who might recommend putting a fluoride application on all your teeth.
- Brush twice a day and floss daily. Proper brushing techniques should also be used. Use an up and down motion at a 45 degree angle for each tooth. Tooth brushes should be changed 2 to 3 times a year. Try and switch to an electric tooth brush.
- Rinse or chew gum after meals. In addition to brushing, rinsing your mouth with an antibacterial mouth wash can help prevent tooth decay and bleeding gums. Chewing sugar-free gum after a meal can also help protect by increasing saliva flow, which naturally washes away bacteria.
- Block blows to teeth. Sports and recreational activities pose a risk to teeth and they may injure or break. Supervised activities should require a mouth guard. Un-supervised activities like skateboarding still pose a threat. Buy a mouth guard at a sporting goods store that can be softened using hot water to fit your mouth.
- Eat smart. At every age, a healthy diet is essential to healthy teeth and gums. A well balanced diet of whole foods such as grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables, and dairy products will provide the nutrients you need. Fats found in fish will reduce gum disease. Apples are a sure way to whiten teeth. Gargle with apple cider vinegar as it will remove stains, whiten teeth and kill bacteria in your mouth and gums.
- Avoid sugary foods. When bacteria break down simple sugars, they produce acids that erode enamel, which causes decay. Sugary drinks like soft drinks and juices while sipping raise acid levels. Sticky candies tend to stick to the teeth and slowly cause tooth decay.
- Make an appointment. It is usually said that you should see a dentist every 6 months. On a routine check-up, your dentist will remove plaque build-up that you cannot remove on your own. The dentist will also check for any tooth decay, oral cancer lesions and signs of gum disease which causes gums to bleed.
- Clean your tongue. Use a tongue scraper every morning to remove tongue plaque and freshen up your breath. One major cause of bad breath is a buildup of plaque on the tongue. Using a scraper is more efficient than using a tooth brush.