Oral health is a key part of overall well-being and physical health. Many experts believe that excellent oral health has a significant impact on our lives and provide services to help our patients maintain or improve their oral health. Keeping the mouth free of harmful bacteria, infection and inflammation helps to prevent the entry and spread of germs or illness. Having strong, healthy teeth, gums and proper bite are also critical to a beautiful and healthy smile.
Great oral health helps you:
- Eat and chew healthy nourishing foods
- Defend your body against infection and illness
- Get a good night’s sleep
- Enjoy a feeling of well-being
- Have the confidence to smile
Steps to a ‘smiling’ mouth
Here’s a simple list of steps to keep a healthy smile — brushing, flossing, rinsing, and chewing every day. Oral health is deeply connected to overall health as well, which is why keeping up with the basics is important. Regularly skipping flossing, for example, can lead to oral infections like gum disease.
Brushing at least twice a day — ideally in the morning and in the evening — promotes optimum mouth health. Choose a soft-bristled brush for a comfortable cleaning experience. Toothy tip: Toss your toothbrush every 3-4 months, or after an illness to stay healthy.
How to properly brush:
- Put your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gums
- Gently brush back and forth in short, tooth-wide strokes
- Brush all tooth surfaces
- To clean behind the front teeth, tilt the brush vertically and make several up-and-down strokes
- Don’t forget to brush your tongue
- Brush for 2-3 minutes
While it may be the yuckiest part of oral health routines, daily flossing is a must. Floss gets into the crevices a toothbrush can’t, and it removes bacterial plaque buildup between the teeth and at the gum line. Toothy tip: Hate sticking your hands all the way in your mouth to floss? Get a long-handled flosser or a Waterpik to make the job less awkward.
How to floss:
- Pluck off about 18 inches of floss
- Wind nearly all of it around each middle finger, leaving an inch to push between your teeth
- Tightly hold the floss between your index fingers and thumbs
- Curve the floss around the base of each tooth. Get below the gum line, but don’t force floss. It could bruise or cut your gum tissue.
- Use clean sections of floss as you move along
Your teeth aren’t the only part of your mouth that need cleaning. Reduce bacteria in your mouth by swishing with an antimicrobial mouthwash. It removes bacteria and biofilm while freshening your breath. Ahh, clean. Toothy tip: Sensitive to the alcohol in mouthwash? Check out alcohol-free brands like Tom’s of Maine or Biotene.
Is this morning’s coffee still lingering on your breath? Turns out, chewing sugar-free gum can cure that stale breath AND clean your teeth. Plus, it’s a nice post-meal treat, and it neutralizes acids on your teeth which can wear away your enamel. Toothy tip: Chew gum for 20 minutes after eating to increase saliva flow and replace minerals your enamel has lost. Sugar-free gum can also help reduce dry mouth symptoms.
See your dentist twice a year
Practicing good oral hygiene won’t necessarily eliminate all of your oral health issues, but it can help reduce dental problems. Brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, flossing, rinsing, and regularly replacing your toothbrush can minimize extra trips to the dentist.
Looking for a good dentist? The American Dental Association (ADA) suggests:
- Ask your primary doctor for a recommendation
- Check with family, friends, and coworkers
- Look at local review sites (Yelp, Google, Healthgrades)
- Reach out to your local or state dental societies
Visit your dentist every six months for a cleaning and oral checkup. Insurance often covers two cleanings as it is considered a preventative service. Additionally, if you often get cavities, your dental hygienist can apply fluoride directly to your teeth at your next visit.