Your dedication to oral hygiene in between office visits makes the difference between a healthy mouth and an unhealthy mouth. While your 6-month examinations and cleanings are essential for maintaining the oral health you need and desire, your work at home is pivotal for your success. Here are six areas to focus on to keep your smile bright and healthy.
If you don’t have the habit of regular flossing, now is the time to start! Flossing is essential because each of your teeth has five surfaces. Brushing reaches three of those faces, but without flossing you miss at least two surfaces. Floss is the only tool that is able to get into the spaces between your teeth. Plaque left on your teeth creates acid that causes gum irritations, cavities and serious conditions. Flossing safeguards your teeth by ensuring that all sides are cleaned thoroughly and protected.
Does it matter if you floss before or after brushing? No. According to the American Dental Association, 53 percent of respondents floss before and 47 percent after. Really, as long as you are doing it, it really doesn’t matter which you do first. Just do it!
Commit to brushing your teeth at least twice a day. Brushing your teeth eliminates enamel-eating bacteria from your teeth that leads to cavities. Beyond the issue that cavities can create, 80% of Americans are afflicted by some form of gum disease. Brushing reduces the risk that you will be part of this statistic. Now, when it comes to the technical aspects of brushing, you need to make sure you are using a toothbrush that is the appropriate size, shape and bristles for your teeth and mouth. A soft-bristled brush that can reach all the areas of your mouth with ease. Toothbrushes need to be replaced about every 3-4 months or when bristles begin to fray. Also make sure you are selecting a toothpaste that is fortified with fluoride and approved by the American Dental Association–look for the ADA symbol on the packaging.
The American Dental Association supports the use of mouthwash for certain cases but underscores the importance of not letting mouthwashes replace brushing and flossing efforts. About 31 percent of American adults use mouthwash, but many more probably should and don’t. So, how do you know if you need to use it? A member of our Family and Cosmetic Dentistry of the Rockies team will ascertain your need for mouthwash and what kind you will need with a comprehensive dental exam. Mouthwash has the great ability of reaching in between spaces in the mouth that toothbrushes or floss can’t reach or may have missed. Using mouthwash following a regular brushing and flossing routine can help safeguard your teeth health. Not all mouthwashes are the same so consult with us before you begin using one. Some have a high alcohol content and can damage your teeth enamel if not used appropriately or if applied with too much frequency.
Certain recreational substances such as alcohol and tobacco can seriously impact the health of your teeth and should be avoided. Alcohol causes dehydration and dry mouth which leads to decreased saliva flow over time. When your saliva production decreases, your mouth is more at risk for developing tooth decay and/or gum disease. Heavy alcohol use also increases your risk for mouth cancer. Tobacco not only stains your teeth, but increases your likelihood for developing periodontal disease and oral cancer.
Eating patterns and food choices are pivotal for preventing tooth decay. Some food choices will actually promote it. Heavy sugar consumption has long been associated with tooth decay. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), men should not have more than 38 grams of sugar per day and women should not have more than 25 grams. Children should have less than that. Part of our comprehensive oral health education plan supplies you with good nutrition tips and guidelines. Along with limiting your sugar consumption, make sure you don’t have any vitamin deficiencies. Your teeth depend on vital nutrients vitamins provide to stay strong and healthy. Strive to eat a varied diet so you get all the vitamins your body (and teeth) need.
Not sure if your diet is where it needs to be? We can help. Keep a diet log for a week to see what your daily eating patterns are. MyFitnessPal.com is a great app for food-tracking and includes your daily macros so you can monitor your sugars and vitamin levels. Keeping teeth healthy and strong is tied to those daily food choices. Add the following tooth-friendly foods to your daily goals:
If you would like to know more about how to care for your teeth better with proper oral hygiene, give us a call today. Preserving your smile takes daily effort, but with proper education, tools and commitment, you can keep your smile bright and healthy for years to come! Call our Fort Collins office today at (970) 223-8425 for an appointment. You can also reach us after office hours by submitting a contact or appointment request online using the form below.