Professional Tips and Advice Help You Care for Your Teeth and Gums the Right Way
When you smile, your teeth are one of the first things people notice about you. Even if you don’t have perfect-looking teeth, well cared-for teeth can brighten your face and add an air of confidence.
But are you following dental care recommendations from your dentist? Consider these eight tips for keeping your chompers in good health for as long as possible.
Brush At Least Twice Per Day
The American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth twice per day using toothpaste containing fluoride. One of those tooth brushing sessions should occur before bed, so you don’t go to sleep with plaque build-up on your teeth, which can encourage tooth decay or the formation of cavities.
Choose a toothbrush with soft bristles, and apply a pea-sized amount of toothpaste to your brush. (For very young children under the age of three, very little toothpaste is needed.) Brush for two minutes, ensuring you cover every surface of your teeth, including the backs.
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Floss Once Per Day
American dentists also recommend flossing your teeth once per day using string-type floss. Floss picks can be acceptable, as long as you rinse them after flossing each tooth. Never reuse or share floss, as this can spread bacteria and cause infection.
Be careful to not “snap” the floss between your teeth; use a back-and-forth motion to ease it toward the gumline. A water flosser tool can be helpful for those with orthodontia, like braces, or for those who struggle to hold onto floss.
- Get a Dental Check-Up Every Six Months
To ensure optimal oral health, you should see a dentist every six months for an oral exam and teeth cleaning. During a dental check-up, your dentist will look at your mouth for signs of oral cancer and other diseases and ensure your teeth are in good condition. Then, a dental hygienist will polish your teeth using a specialized gritty toothpaste, and remove any plaque from your gumline.
Dental check-ups can catch issues before they become major problems, which is why it’s so important to go twice per year. If you do not have dental insurance, check your area dental schools for free or low-cost cleanings and exams.
Address Teeth Grinding or Clenching Right Away
Do you wake up in the morning with a sore jaw or gums? You could be grinding or clenching your teeth during the night. It’s called bruxism, and it’s a very serious problem for your oral health.
Prolonged and unaddressed bruxism can cause your bite to misalign or your teeth to loosen. You also can eventually grind your teeth so much that they are broken down into short nubs.
By addressing teeth grinding or clenching right away, you can prevent major damage to your teeth. To prevent problems caused by bruxism, you may need to wear a night guard or occlusal splint while you sleep. Your dentist can custom-make one for your mouth.
Avoid Consuming Excessively Hard or Crunchy Foods or Snacks
As kids, some of our favorite sugary candy were hard ones advertised as being able to break your jaw. Of course, they weren’t quite that hard, but they were hard enough to crack a tooth if you bit down the wrong way!
Even if you aren’t a kid anymore, it’s still important to be careful crunching into particularly hard foods, like nuts. And completely avoid chewing ice cubes, which absolutely can cause tooth damage.
See a Dentist Right Away After Sustaining Oral Damage
If you were in an auto accident, bit into something too hard, or otherwise sustained oral damage, such as a chipped, broken, or knocked-out tooth, it’s important that you see a dentist right away. In some cases, your teeth can be repaired, but time is of the essence.
Store your whole tooth or tooth chips in milk for up to an hour after your accident to give it a fighting chance. If your tooth was dry for more than 15 minutes before you put it in milk, it’s less likely to be saved.
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Watch for Signs of Oral Disease
Unusual white coating on your tongue, excessive canker sores or other mouth ulcers, and severe gum inflammation are just a few signs that you may need to address an oral disease. Although you need not perform an oral self-check on a regular basis, you can still be mindful of changes in your mouth over time.
Alert your dentist if you notice anything unusual or different, as these can be early signs of a developing problem. Some can be addressed with simple medications, while others are far more serious.
Pursue Cosmetic Dentistry Treatments Only If Your Teeth Are Healthy Enough
The desire for a perfectly straight, perfectly white smile is a highly American one, which is why so many people pursue cosmetic dentistry treatments every year. Cosmetic dentistry treatments can be as simple as whitening your teeth, or as in-depth as getting implants or porcelain veneers to create a Hollywood smile.
But some people so badly want the perfect smile that they’re willing to forgo their oral health. If your teeth and gums aren’t healthy enough to withstand a cosmetic dentistry treatment, it’s best to address the health aspects before the surface-beauty ones. Reputable cosmetic dentists won’t perform dramatic treatments on patients whose teeth are not in good enough condition – and you should listen to what your dentist is telling you about your oral health.
You Only Get One Set of Permanent Teeth; Treat Them Well
Your permanent teeth must last you eight or nine decades, so taking good care of them starting today is a step in the right direction. To ensure you keep your natural teeth as long as possible, follow your dentist’s recommendations and practice good oral hygiene.