Beyond Brushing: 10 More Ways To Get Healthy Teeth And A Beautiful Smile
Everyone knows the cardinal rule of oral hygiene: brush your teeth twice a day. The benefits of thoroughly cleaning our teeth for two minutes (once in the morning and then again at night), are time-tested. Brushing freshens breath, and removes debris left over from food and drink that causes tooth decay.
However, there is more good to dental hygiene than brushing alone. These are simple things you can add to your oral hygiene routine to make sure that your teeth and mouth are in tip-top condition.
1. Floss, Floss, Floss
Your dentist has probably already told you the importance of flossing – something that can’t be stated enough. Brushing alone cleans only about two-thirds of your mouth so you need to add further cleaning steps to prevent tooth decay and gum disease.
After brushing, be sure to floss your contacts (space between teeth). For wider contacts, an interdental brush should do the trick. Not only will you feel fresher, but you’ll also be helping to prevent gum disease which is already unpleasant on its own, and has been linked to heart problems and some cancers.
2. Visit Your Dentist Regularly
Keeping regular dental appointments can help your dentist detect problems early on, preventing permanent damage to your teeth. Your dentist will tell you when you should come back for a follow-up or routine dental check-up, so make an appropriate appointment as soon as possible.
Avoid putting off recommended dental visits since waiting longer can spell the difference between keeping all your teeth or losing a couple.
3. Avoid Added Sugar
It’s already common knowledge that sugar causes tooth decay, but many of us are not aware that it’s not just sweets and chocolates that can cause problems. If you make it a habit to look at food labels, you’ll be surprised to see how often sugar features as an ingredient in supposedly savory food.
Notorious examples of not-so-obvious but sugary food include table sauces like ketchup, ready-made pasta sauces, cereals, and even baby food jars and pouches. Remember that sugar can also be labeled fructose, sucrose and glucose on these labels, among other things. The simplest thing to do whenever possible is to make your own sugar-free version of the product, or to take the time to compare the sugar levels in the different supermarket options available.
Fresh fruit and frozen fruit are good for your overall oral health because of their nutrient qualities. Although they do contain sugar, they only pose a risk to your oral health if you are eating them all day.
However, beware of canned fruit and fruit juice since the processes involved in preparing these products end up eliminating their tooth-friendly nutrients, leaving behind only sugar. Be warier still of dried fruit. Here, the sugar has become super-concentrated and the stickiness of dried fruit means bits and pieces very often get stuck on your teeth.
4. Steer Clear of Teeth-staining Drinks
If you want to keep your smile pearly white, it would be wise to drink as little tea, coffee and red wine as possible. Once the stains from these products appear, it will be harder to remove them.
5. Pick a Mouth-friendly Diet
A low sugar diet is the best way forward, but there are also some foods that are particularly good for your teeth. Cheese, plain yogurt and milk are a great source of calcium for your teeth.
Raw vegetables provide heaps of mouth-friendly nutrients without harming your teeth. Crunchy ones like carrots and celery act like a natural toothbrush when you chew on them. They also increase saliva production which helps wash away nasty food particles from your teeth.
6. Chew or Rinse After Meals…
Another way of increasing saliva production is to chew gum after a meal. As long as you pick a sugar-free variety, gum will help saliva wash away bacteria and neutralize acid that causes tooth decay. If gum isn’t your thing, then a quick rinse with mouthwash will have a beneficial effect.
7. … But Don’t Brush After Eating
It may seem logical to brush your teeth straight after eating, but doing so can actually harm your teeth! Eating and drinking weakens the tooth enamel, and brushing before your saliva has had a chance to neutralize the food acids can cause the enamel to be brushed away.
Just drink water, and then wait about an hour after eating to brush your teeth in order to preserve your precious tooth enamel.
8. Avoid Accidental Damage
In the dental realm, the saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” has never rang truer. So do everything you can to keep all your teeth healthy, together. Refrain from using your teeth for anything other than eating. They are not bottle openers or tools for prying things apart!
9. Consider Professional Treatment
If some damage has already been done, the best course of action is to speak to your dentist about treatments such as bonding and cosmetic dental whitening. They will be able to offer you clinically proven professional treatments.
Generally speaking, treatments that can be purchased in supermarkets and chemists have very limited effects. Avoid buying products online unless you are totally sure of the reputation of the seller and their standing in the dental world, since it can be very easy to damage teeth with unregulated products. Similarly, avoid following online advice that recommend homemade products for the same reason.
10. Teach Your Children Great Habits
Practice good oral hygiene with your kids. Start by making sure you use age-appropriate products early on. Fully supervise their dental hygiene until they are at least seven years old, and ensure you have a “tooth-friendly” diet.
Make sure they visit the dentist regularly just like you. Doing so will habituate them to the sights and sounds of the dental clinic so they learn to look forward to dental appointments later on.