Properly caring for your teeth not only keeps your smile looking its best; it can help you avoid a variety of dental and other health problems. You probably know the basics—visit your dentist at least twice a year, and brush and floss your teeth at least twice a day—but what else can you do?
Here are some lesser-known tips for taking great care of your oral health.
- Be thorough. Set a timer and brush your teeth for a full two minutes. Less than that, and you may be leaving behind bacteria.
- When brushing, include your gums along with your teeth. This will help stimulate blood flow and improve your gum health.
- When flossing, wrap the floss around the tooth in a C shape before moving it up and down; this will cover more of the tooth surface. And don’t forget to floss along the back of the teeth in the very back of your mouth.
- Try a plastic floss holder, sold next to toothbrushes in most grocery and drug stores. These two-pronged plastic tools allow you to clean between teeth with one hand.
- Chew sugar-free gum. Studies show that this stimulates the production of saliva, which can help reduce cavities. It can also trap bacteria and neutralize plaque acids.
- Use mouth rinse to help reduce plaque.
- Avoid soft drinks, fruit juices, and sugary foods.
- This time of year, we know it can be difficult to pass up all sweets. If you do enjoy a dessert – especially a sticky treat like pecan pie – be sure to drink plenty of water along with it to help wash away any food particles on your teeth.
- Some medications can affect oral health. Talk with your doctor if your oral health has suddenly changed after starting a new medication.
- Last, but not least, avoid smoking tobacco or using smokeless tobacco products. These unhealthy habits can lead to gum disease and oral cancer, not to mention bad breath!