How to Keep Your Teeth Healthy
You only get one set of teeth, so it’s important to take care of them. With the right set of habits and practices, you can prevent cavities, keep your teeth white and straight, and reduce your risk of various oral health complications. Best of all, it doesn’t take much time or cost much money to do them. (Image Credit: Gerd Altmann/Pixabay)
Daily Hygiene Habits
First, and arguably most importantly, you need to practice daily oral hygiene. Every day, you should brush your teeth twice, using small circles and a soft-bristled brush. You’ll also need to choose a good toothpaste, and one that aligns with your personal needs; for example, if you have sensitive teeth, an enamel-restoring toothpaste can reduce your pain. Some dentists recommend you should brush your teeth after every meal, but this may not be strictly necessary.
You’ll also want to floss at least once on a daily basis. Flossing loosens and removes the food particles and other sources of residue that get stuck between your teeth (and even in your gums). If you fail to floss consistently, these can result in cavities.
As an additional measure, it’s a good idea to rinse at least once a day with a fluoride-based mouthwash. Mouthwash will get rid of any remaining particles stuck on and between your teeth after brushing and flossing. The fluoride will also form a protective layer over your teeth, reducing the possibility of cavities.
Some dentists also recommend scraping your tongue and inner cheeks on a regular basis, keeping it free of residue that could increase your chances of developing an oral health problem.
Choosing a Dentist
Even if your teeth feel good and look good, and if you maintain good habits on your own, it’s important to find a dentist where you live. Ideally, you’ll visit the dentist at least twice a year. During these appointments, you’ll receive a deep cleaning, which can keep your teeth as free from plaque as possible, and get a screening for various oral health problems. If a cavity, chip, or other tooth issue is caught early, it can be restored before it grows worse.
Your dentist may also provide you with recommendations for how to adjust your habits further. For example, you may learn that you brush too aggressively, resulting in gum erosion; your dentist can then help you perfect your technique, or recommend a different type of brush.
You’ll also want to be acutely aware of the health and status of your teeth at all times. If you notice an abnormal pain, or if you feel you may have damaged a tooth, it’s important to seek the help of a dentist as soon as possible.
Food, Drink, and Other Habits
If you want to maximize your tooth and oral health, you’ll also want to adjust your eating, drinking, and other regular habits. For example, you likely already know that consuming sugary or acidic foods regularly can be bad for the health of your teeth. Sugar accelerates tooth decay, and acids can wear away the protective layer of enamel that exists on your teeth. Sugary sodas are some of the worst culprits here, since they’re both sugary and acidic.
It’s important to drink lots of water throughout the day as well. Water has the capacity to flush food residue and other particles out of your mouth, keeping your teeth cleaner throughout the day. It also keeps your mouth (and the rest of your body) adequately hydrated, which is important to preserve your tooth health.
Tobacco products are objectively bad for your oral health. If you smoke cigarettes or chew tobacco, you’ll be actively increasing your risk of various oral cancers, and degrading the quality and health of your teeth at the same time. Quitting smoking (and the use of any other tobacco products) should be one of your top priorities.
Too many people follow all the above tips, but neglect to protect their teeth when it’s most important. They play contact sports, or engage in high-risk activities, without thinking about oral protection. All it takes is a simple mouthguard to greatly improve your safety during these activities, and mouthguards aren’t expensive. Most can be purchased for only a few dollars, and are incredibly easy to use. If you’re wearing one when you slip and fall, or when a basketball hits you in the face, it could save you from a painful and complicated tooth fracture.
Keeping your teeth clean, healthy, and pretty doesn’t take much time, effort, or money—so there’s no excuse not to engage in these practices. The more consistent you are, and the higher you prioritize your oral health, the less likely you’ll be to deal with a tooth-related problem, and the faster your problems will be resolved.