How to Maintain Healthy Oral Habits as an Adult
The teeth are one of the most difficult parts of our bodies to maintain. A lot goes into maintaining healthy teeth, from the foods we eat to routine brushing and flossing. Adults can get bombarded when life gets hectic and neglect our oral and mental health. However, there are a lot of great tips to ensure you have a healthy set of teeth and gums for the rest of your life. Here’s a guideline to follow to maintain your smile.
Brush Your Teeth Properly
Ok, so you probably know how to brush your teeth as an adult, right? Well, that’s not exactly true. Most people don’t brush their teeth properly, leading to problems with their gums and teeth. It can stem from not using the correct technique or not brushing long enough.
The best brush method is using a gentle and circular pattern with your toothbrush. This will help remove plaque and bacteria from the surfaces of your teeth that can cause cavities, gum disease, and even tooth loss. You should brush for a full two minutes. It can seem like a long time, but set a timer or play some music to help you keep track.
A soft-bristled toothbrush approved by the American Dental Association is generally the best. It will be able to get into those hard-to-reach places in your mouth and will be gentle on your teeth, gums, and tongue. There are other brushes, but make sure to check with your dentist if you want to use another one.
Another great tip is to keep disposable toothbrushes on hand. If you’re traveling or can’t get a toothbrush right away, you’ll still be able to practice good oral hygiene. Just make sure to dispose of any disposable brush after one use.
Use Floride Toothpastes
A stroll down your local oral care aisle in the supermarket or pharmacy can become quite a confusing experience. Hundreds of kinds of toothpaste are on the market, all with different ingredients. From tooth-whitening ingredients to tartar control, it’s hard to pick the right one. However, one ingredient you shouldn’t neglect is fluoride.
Fluoride acts as a protective barrier to your teeth that can resist acid attacks and plaque buildup in your mouth. It’s also one of the best ways to prevent tooth decay. If you have well water, fluoride toothpaste is even more important. While many cities in the United States add fluoride to their water supply, not all do. Dentists may also recommend additional treatments with other forms of fluoride. Check with your dentist if you’re unsure.
The Importance of Flossing
Flossing is equally as important as brushing your teeth. Unfortunately, many people neglect this critical part of oral health. It helps to get the little pieces of food your toothbrush cannot extract from your teeth. It also helps limit plaque buildup, reduces inflammation, and helps to stimulate the gums.
You should always floss your teeth before brushing. This way, you can remove any food particles or stuck-on plaque left over from eating your meals. Gently glide the floss between each tooth and move it up and down to ensure you’re cleaning all of the surfaces of your teeth.
Another tip is to put toothpaste on the floss before starting. This will help to make the floss slide more easily between your teeth. It can also limit any damage to your gums caused by friction. Also, the added fluoride in the toothpaste can help hit those hard-to-reach places between your teeth and help prevent cavities.
See Your Dentist Regularly
One of the best ways to maintain oral health as an adult is to keep up with your dental visits and cleanings. Healthline recommends that everyone visit a dentist at least twice a year for optimal dental health. Generally, you’ll have x-rays of your teeth taken once a year, and your teeth will be professionally cleaned at each visit. The benefits of these visits are numerous, from checking your oral health to detecting certain diseases in their early stages. You may need more cleaning depending on your lifestyle. For example, someone who smokes may need to visit their dentist more often since smoking causes decay and gum disease.
Always Brush Before Bed
After a long day at work or school, keeping up with your oral health can be hard. You may want to put it off until the next day or lose track of time when you’re at home on the weekends. However, doing this can contribute to many problems with your teeth and gums and staining on your teeth. It’s also harmful if you have a late-night sweet tooth for ice cream and cookies. Leaving sugar on your teeth can be a recipe for cavities.
Avoid Sugary Drinks
Sugary drinks are incredibly harmful to your teeth. The acid in them attacks the enamel and can cause cavities and other problems with your oral health. Lemonades, fruit juices, and sodas are all packed with sugar. For example, a 12-ounce soda has close to 10 teaspoons of sugar. That’s more than what you should have in a day. If you’re going to indulge in soda, try drinking it as quickly as possible without swishing it around in your mouth
Also, if you have to have a sugary drink, rinse your mouth with water afterward and brush your teeth. You should also try to avoid chewing gum that’s high in sugar. Instead of buying these products at the store, make your own at home. You can add fresh fruit to sparkling water or mix some iced tea with fruit and honey. These are not only better for your teeth, but your overall health as well
Don’t Put off Filling Cavities
If you happen to get a cavity, ensure you get it filled immediately. You can buy some time if you have a minor cavity to get filled, but make sure to address it as soon as possible. Leaving a cavity untreated can lead to even more problems, including root canals and broken teeth. On top of that, you could end up with a bad taste in your mouth or gum disease if you leave the bacteria in your tooth too long.
Mouthwash might be a bit pricey, which could be a reason for not including it in your oral care routine. However, it helps remove bacteria from your mouth that can cause bad breath and plaque. It can make a difference when used in conjunction with regular brushing.
Like toothpaste, look for mouthwashes that contain fluoride. Fluoride helps protect your teeth from decay, and it makes them stronger. If you find the mouthwash making you uncomfortable or giving you a bad taste, switch to another brand. There are plenty of options on the market today. There are also many types of mouthwash that help whiten your teeth.
Don’t Neglect Your Tongue
Your tongue is a vital part of your oral health too. It collects leftover food and allows germs to grow. You can easily clean it with just your toothbrush, but it’s also important to get rid of all the bacteria on it. Tongue scrapers remove bacteria better than a toothbrush does.
Always feel around your tongue with your finger and check for any lesions. Lesions on your tongue can be a sign of oral cancer, which is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S. If you notice any lesions, see a doctor right away. You could prevent it from spreading and becoming fatal if you catch it early enough.
Eat a Healthy Diet
Like any aspect of your health, what you eat and drink matters. If you want healthy teeth and gums, you must simultaneously take care of your diet as you brush and floss. Opt for healthy fresh fruits and vegetables that are much better choices for your teeth. Some great options include carrots and celery, which help scrub your teeth as you eat. Part of your plan should also include drinking plenty of water. It will help flush away any food particles and rid your teeth of sugary and acidic foods if you can’t brush your teeth right away.
It’s also a good idea to avoid sticky foods. These include peanut butter, honey, dried fruits, and other snacks that can stick to your teeth. Not only does it become more difficult to get off of your teeth, but these foods tend to contain a lot of sugar. It’s also difficult for saliva to break down, so your mouth can still be affected by it even when you’re not eating or drinking.
Pay Attention to Any Changes in Your Mouth
Toothaches, bad breath, and discoloration are all some signs that you may have a problem with your teeth. If you feel like something is off, make an appointment to see a local dentist right away. Besides the fact that you want to ensure all of your oral health needs are met, most dentists can help identify any problems and treat them before they worsen.
Here are some of the changes to look out for:
- Sores, swelling in the gums, or even pain when you chew
- Redness or a change in texture on your teeth
- Changes in the color of your teeth
- Lumps on your tongue, mouth, or lip
- Difficult chewing and swallowing
- You have bad breath that doesn’t go away with mouthwash and brushing.
If you are a smoker, one of the best things you can do to maintain your oral health is to quit. Smoking not only increases your risk for tooth decay but also greatly increases the risk of gum disease and oral cancer. To help you quit, limit how often and when you smoke. Instead of having a cigarette every time you drink, try to limit yourself to one or two times per week. In addition, look into a smoking cessation program that can help you kick the habit for good. Plush, your smile will be much brighter once you kick the cigarettes on the curb.
Take Care of Dry Mouth
Dry mouth is another common problem for those who smoke. This condition can make it difficult to eat, speak, and even sleep comfortably. In addition to quitting smoking, there are a few things you can do to help manage the symptoms of dry mouth. For example, try drinking more water and avoiding caffeine or alcohol whenever possible. You may also want to avoid foods high in sugar, which can contribute to a dry mouth. If these measures do not help, visit your dentist to discuss other treatment options. By taking these steps and making other healthy lifestyle choices, you can maintain oral health even if you smoke or have a dry mouth.
Stay Committed to Good Oral Hygiene
Maintaining great oral health is a lifelong commitment. While you may struggle with certain habits now, if you commit to these changes and continue using good oral hygiene practices, your teeth will thank you in the long run. From brushing and flossing regularly to seeing your dentist regularly, following these steps can avoid problems in the future.
With these tips, you can sure a healthy and happy smile for years. Remember, it’s never too late to make the necessary changes to keep your teeth in great shape if your oral health habits are not ideal. By incorporating these tips into your daily routine, you can maintain good oral health for the long term. Give us a call today for more information or to schedule an appointment.