Keeping your mouth healthy does more for you than give you a nice smile. In fact, dental health is important to your overall health. People who go to the dentist regularly and get their teeth cleaned have fewer issues with heart disease, strokes, diabetes, premature births, arthritis, and more. Here are ten things you can do to keep your mouth healthy:
- Visit your dentist twice per year. Your exams, x-rays, and cleanings are critical for everyday dental health. Don’t wait until your teeth or gums hurt to be seen!
- Brush your teeth twice daily, and floss once daily. If you brush but don’t floss, you’re missing out on 35 percent of the tooth’s surface. Gum disease is the leading cause of teeth loss for people ages 35 and older. It’s also the second most common disease in the United States, after the common cold.
- Start cleaning children’s teeth as soon as they first appear. This not only helps them keep their teeth healthy from the start, but it also teaches them healthy habits!
- Use fluoride. You can do this either with fluoridated water, toothpaste, or rinses. However, be careful with fluoride for young kids—too much fluoride can cause white spots on teeth. Just use a pea-size drop of toothpaste when they brush.
- Change your toothbrush three to four times per year. When the bristles of your toothbrush are frayed, your toothbrush isn’t cleaning your teeth and gums well enough. It’s also best to replace your toothbrush after an illness.
- Wear a mouthguard when playing sports. Sporting accidents are the leading causes of teeth loss for people younger than age 35.
- Don’t use (or quit using) tobacco. Smoking stains teeth and significantly increases your risk of gum disease and oral cancer.
- Be smart about what you eat. A well-balanced diet contributes to healthy teeth and gums.
- Avoid sugary food and drinks. Bacteria in your mouth breaks down sugars to produce acid, which erodes tooth enamel and starts the tooth decay process.
- Protect molars with sealants. The best time to have sealants placed is when permanent molars first start coming in. This helps protect the tops of these teeth.
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