I want to talk today about something that seems fairly elementary and simple, and that is 10 good ways to take care of your teeth and protect your oral health. Some of them may be very obvious to you, but there might be a couple of things that you’ve never really thought of before. So, let’s dive right in.
Brushing your teeth
Just the simple act of brushing your teeth is one of the most effective ways to protect your oral health. It’s something you want to do twice a day. You want to use a soft bristled toothbrush and use the right technique. Also, you want to take a couple of minutes. So, two times a day for 2 minutes every time. If you do this, it goes a long way to remove the plaque that builds up on your teeth. If you make brushing your teeth twice a day a habit, it can save you from expensive and time-consuming treatments for tooth decay.
Flossing daily to protect your oral health
Why is flossing so important if we’re already brushing? It’s because up to 40% of your tooth surfaces are missed by the toothbrush. Only the floss can get in between the teeth and remove that sticky plaque that builds up and causes cavities and gum disease.
This includes avoiding both smoking and smokeless tobacco. Smoking is one of the leading risk factors for oral cancer. This is a type of cancer that can afflict up to 50,000 people a year in the United States. Exposure to tobacco not only puts you at risk of cancer but it can also put you at a higher risk of gum problems and cavities. So, quitting tobacco is one of the ways to protect your oral health.
Avoiding coffee, tea, and sodas
You may not like this one, but one of the ways to protect your oral health is to avoid coffee, tea, and sodas. Why is that the case if coffee and tea are healthy? It can be that they would stain your teeth a little bit, but that’s something that you can manage (here are some teeth whitening myths and facts). But some of these types of drinks have a fair amount of acid in them. Obviously, sodas can have sugar. And people wonder if diet sodas would be okay. But it turns out that diet sodas are actually fairly acidic. They are very acidic, in fact. And, of course, coffees and teas can have sugars and syrups added, which can be very detrimental to your oral health. So, I recommend that you be careful with the beverages that you drink.
Eating a healthy diet to protect your oral health
Now this seems pretty obvious, but a healthy diet affects not just your mouth and your oral health, but also affects your entire body. The mouth is really the gateway to the body. So, we want to make sure that we are having a healthy diet so we get the right kind of nutrition and limit those simple carbohydrates that can cause cavities as well.
Visiting your dentist regularly
Twice a year is a good rule of thumb. At least once a year, but twice a year keeps people out of trouble. It allows us to detect problems very early on in the process, and that can be very beneficial, of course. Many dental issues are easily treatable in the early stages. If they go undetected, they might end up requiring extensive treatment, entailing both time and cost.
Limiting sugary foods to protect your oral health
This goes along with the healthy diet concept mentioned above. But we have to be careful that we are watching out for all the hidden sources of sugar. Sugar can be very detrimental to the body in general. But it’s also a food source for the bacteria in the mouth that cause cavities. So, we really want to be careful that we’re limiting any sugary foods.
Taking precautions during contact sports
Here’s one that many people miss. If you are involved in anything that is close to a contact sport, wear a mouth guard. Mouth injuries are very common from flying elbows and foreheads. Basketball is actually one of the leading causes of mouth injuries. Consider wearing a mouth guard. If you have kids, make sure that they’re wearing a mouth guard to avoid very costly and painful dental injuries.
Rinsing your mouth with antibacterial mouthwash
Be sure to rinse your mouth with some type of antibacterial mouth rinse. Chew a sugarless gum that includes xylitol. That really goes, the same with the rinse. I would recommend finding a rinse that has xylitol in it. Xylitol is a natural sweetener but it’s also anti-bacterial. So, it can help prevent cavities and protect your oral health in multiple ways.
Using a fluoridated toothpaste
For most patients, I recommend using a fluoridated toothpaste. Be sure that if kids are using a fluoridated toothpaste that they spit that out and rinse thoroughly afterwards so they don’t ingest anything extra (here are some more tips on teeth brushing in kids). This mineral (fluoride) can be helpful in preventing cavities as long as it’s very wisely and carefully used.
So, these were just 10 ways that you might want to consider to help prevent cavities and gum disease and protect your oral health in general. Here at Express Dentist, we have a trusted network of dentists that we can help connect you with. So, please feel free to reach out and we will put you in contact with somebody in your area from our network who can help protect your oral health and enhance your oral health so you can keep your teeth for a lifetime.
About the author
Dr. Greg Grillo
Dr. Greg Grillo DDS studied at the University of Washington where he received a bachelors degree with Honors and later attended dental school on the same campus. Following school Dr. Greg served in the United States Navy as a dental officer. During this time he received advanced training in specialty areas of dentistry while also treating families of members of the military.
As well as sharing valuable information on dentistry and oral health, Dr. Greg remains a practicing dentist to this day. He works with families in the Okanogan Valley where he lives with his wife and three children.