The key to maintaining a strong and healthy smile for life — and avoiding invasive and expensive restorative procedures — is to practice good preventive dental care. This term refers to the practices and habits that keep your teeth and gums in good condition day to day.
Here are five ways that you can increase your chances of lifelong oral health. If you already incorporate these into your routine, great! If not, it’s never too late to start.
Brush Up on Oral Hygiene
You’ve been brushing and maybe flossing your entire life, but have you taken a closer look at your technique to make sure you’re doing it right?
- Brush at least twice per day for two minutes at a time. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste.
- Be sure to get all surfaces of the teeth: fronts, backs, chewing surfaces. Hold the brush at a 45-degree angle to the gums and use short back-and-forth or circular strokes.
- Be thorough, but gentle. Brushing too hard may remove plaque and bacteria, but it will also remove tooth enamel! This makes you susceptible to sensitivity, decay, and gum damage.
- Replace your toothbrush every few months or when the bristles become frayed.
- Use 18” of floss at a time. Wrap most of it around your middle fingers and leave a couple inches to work with at a time. Keep the floss taut against the surface of the enamel to remove stuck-on plaque. At the base of each tooth, bend the floss in a “C” shape and gently clean under the gumline.
Consume Your Calcium
Almost all of your body’s calcium is stored in the bones and teeth, which require the mineral to maintain their strength and structure. To keep your pearly whites healthy and able to resist bacterial acid attacks, you need to make sure you replenish your calcium stores regularly.
Good sources of calcium include dairy products, so load up on milk, yogurt, and especially cheese, which as been shown to be particularly beneficial. Leafy greens such as kale, spinach, watercress, and Swiss chard are also packed with the mineral. You can also get calcium through canned salmon and sardines and almonds. Note: make sure your diet also includes vitamin D, which calcium needs to do its job properly.
Drink Your Water
Water is essential to staying hydrated and maintaining a healthy body. It is also the beverage of choice when it come to keeping your teeth and gums in good shape. Skip the sports drinks, juices, and sodas. These coat your teeth in sugar and turn your mouth into a breeding ground for harmful, acid-producing bacteria. Diet soda isn’t much better: while it doesn’t contain sugar, it is high in acid, which will wear away your enamel on its own.
Swigging water throughout the day is an excellent way to keep your teeth clean between brushings. It rinses away food particles, bacteria, and helps neutralizes acids. Especially beneficial is tap water, as most municipal water supplies are fortified with enamel-boosting fluoride. We suggest investing in a reusable plastic water bottle (if you don’t have one already) and keeping it with you at all times.
Come See Us Twice per Year
So you practice good oral hygiene, you’re getting your calcium and other minerals, and you drink lots of water. When you take such good care of your teeth, are regular dental visits even necessary? Why yes, they are!
When you visit us at Denise DiBona, DDS, LLC, you will receive a thorough professional cleaning. With our experience and special tools, we can remove plaque and tartar that your toothbrush can’t reach. During her examination, the doctor may detect signs of tooth decay and gum disease before you’ve even experienced symptoms. We may also take digital X-rays, which can reveal hidden problems like abscesses, impacted teeth, and cavities between the teeth.
Be Smart About Snacks
In general, it’s best to keep your eating to mealtimes. Snacking throughout the day tends to encourage a buildup of plaque and bacteria that doesn’t go away. If you must have a nibble, avoid sweet, sticky treats like gummy anything and chewy granola bars. Better options are nuts, cut veggies dipped in hummus or a yogurt dip, or an apple.