Remember when you were a child, your parents always told you to brush your teeth before going to bed and floss at least once a day? Well, it wasn’t just some advice to avoid cavities and keep your teeth clean – they were trying to build the foundation for a good oral health routine.
Unfortunately, as an adult, oral health may not be your priority when considering maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but it is essential for overall wellness. Poor oral hygiene leads to bad breath and stained teeth and causes several dental problems, such as tooth sensitivity, tooth decay, and gum disease.
The statistics when it comes to oral health are alarming. According to CDC, about 47% of adults aged 30 years and older in the U.S. have some form of periodontal disease, and 90% of adults aged 20 to 64 have dental caries. The latest report reveals that about 36.2% of adults in South Carolina alone have lost six or more of their permanent teeth due to decay or gum disease.
It’s clear that oral health should not be taken lightly, and preventive care is key. If you’re looking to take proactive steps toward maintaining your oral health and go beyond just brushing and flossing regularly, here are a few tips to follow:
1. Get treatment for the irregularities in your teeth
Gaps, shifted teeth, overbites, underbites, cracks, and chips are all common signs of malocclusion – a misaligned bite. Malocclusion may cause pain, accumulate food particles, and develop cavities leading to severe issues. Visit an orthodontist to get the right treatment for your misaligned teeth. An orthodontist will determine whether you should use braces, retainers, or other treatments to correct them.
Orthodontic treatments have become very common, so even if you reside in a small town, for instance, Spartanburg, search online ‘Orthodontist near me in Spartanburg,’ and you can find the best one. Go through the patient reviews to make an informed decision.
2. Avoid biting your nails
Nail biting can have a detrimental effect on your teeth and gums. The bacteria in your nails can cause infections along the gum line and increase your risk of cavities and tooth decay. Plus, when you bite your nails, you are also putting yourself at risk of chipping off the enamel on your teeth and weakening them over time.
If you have a nail-biting habit, try to break it by chewing on sugarless gum instead of biting your nails. Cut your nails regularly and keep them short to reduce the temptation of biting. You can also keep your hands busy with activities such as playing with a fidget spinner or a stress ball.
3. Eat healthy, balanced meals
Eating a healthy and balanced diet is essential for keeping your teeth and gums strong and healthy. Add fresh fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and dairy products to your meals. Also, include calcium-rich foods, such as milk, cheese, and yogurt.
Limit your intake of sugary foods as they can increase the risk of cavities. Opt for more nutritious snacks like dried fruit or dark chocolate if you crave something sweet. Also, drink plenty of water throughout the day as it helps wash away food particles and bacteria, preventing plaque buildup.
4. Chew sugar-free gum
Chewing sugar-free gum is an easy and effective way to keep your teeth and gums healthy. It also helps freshen your breath and makes you more confident in social situations.
The act of chewing stimulates saliva production, which helps neutralize the acids and sugars in your mouth that can cause decay. Sugar-free gum also has active ingredients such as xylitol and sorbitol that help reduce plaque buildup.
For best results, choose chewing gum with an ADA Seal of Acceptance. It indicates that the product has been tested and approved to be safe and effective. Be sure to limit your gum chewing to fifteen to twenty minutes at a time, as overuse can lead to jaw pain or even damage your teeth.
5. Swish mouthwash after meals
The anti-bacterial ingredients in mouthwash are added to reduce plaque and help prevent cavities. A mouthwash also helps fight bad breath and reduce gum inflammation.
How to use mouthwash:
- Swish the mouthwash in your mouth for 35 – 40 seconds.
- Make sure to cover all areas of your mouth, including behind your teeth and along the gum line.
- Spit out the mouthwash.
- Rinse your mouth with fresh water.
- Repeat at least twice a day for best results.
Make sure you read the label carefully before selecting a mouthwash, as some contain alcohol, which can cause dryness in the mouth. Also, avoid mouthwashes with strong flavors, such as mint or cinnamon, as these can aggravate sensitive gums.
6. Use straws when drinking beverages
While it may be tempting to indulge in a sugary or carbonated beverage, it may not be the best choice for your teeth. The high acidity and sugar content in these beverages can damage the enamel on your teeth, leading to discoloration, sensitivity, and decay.
To minimize the damage to your pearly whites when enjoying such beverages, make sure to drink them through a straw. The liquid will bypass your teeth and go straight to the back of your throat, thus reducing the amount of time it’s in contact with your teeth.
Take small sips and avoid filling your mouth with the beverage. Remember to rinse your mouth with water after you finish the drink to help wash away any residue and restore the pH balance in your mouth.
7. Avoid using your teeth as tools
Whether to open packaging or bite off thread, it’s tempting to use your teeth as a tool. However, this habit causes unnecessary wear and tear on your teeth, leading to enamel erosion and tooth sensitivity. You could also chip your teeth and even get an infection in the gum tissue.
So, next time you have something to open or cut, reach for a pair of scissors or a knife instead. Use your teeth only for their intended purpose — to chew food!
Healthy teeth and gums are essential to overall oral health and well-being. Besides regular brushing and flossing, eating a balanced diet is also important. Swishing mouthwash after meals, chewing sugar-free gum, and using straws for sugary drinks are just some measures that can help keep your teeth and gums in prime condition. If you’re used to biting nails or using your teeth to open packages, make sure you break this habit, as it is detrimental to dental health and can easily lead to tooth decay, gum disease, and other complications.