7 Best Practices to Care for Your Teeth
Caring for your teeth begins and ends with a solid routine every day. Brushing, flossing, gargling….these go a long way toward providing superior care for your teeth. Seeing the dentist every six months and eating well are also ways to ensure a healthy smile. Here are seven best practices for caring for your teeth:
Brushing your teeth correctly. It sounds like a no-brainer but there’s actually a wrong way and a right way to do it. First off, you need the right brush. You should choose a soft, nylon brush with round-ended bristles that prevent scratching and irritation of the teeth and gums, recommends the American Dental Hygienists’ Association. Proper bristle placement is important too. Position the bristles at the gum line at a 45-degree angle for the best access. You want the bristles to reach both the tooth surface as well as the gums. Gently brush with a gentle back-and-forth rolling motion starting with the gums and moving down towards the surface of the teeth.
Healthy eating for strong teeth. Be sure to get the recommended daily allowance of calcium from milk, supplements, low-fat dairy products, salmon, nuts and green leafy vegetables. Get enough vitamin D, too, to aid the body in absorbing the calcium. You can get vitamin D from the sun, milk, fortified soy and rice drinks, and salmon. Vitamin K is another mineral you need to prevent weak teeth. To build strong tooth enamel, eat meats, fish, eggs, whole grains, bananas and spinach.
Applying fluoride. Whether through direct application at the dentist or through oral supplements, be sure to get enough fluoride to fight decay and reduce the rate of cavities by as much as 60 percent, says Reader’s Digest. You may live in a community that fluoridates its water; if not, you’ll have to get it through your toothpaste or beverages that have added fluoride.
Nixing smoking. One of the main culprits of gum disease and tooth decay originates from smoking or chewing tobacco, which weakens your teeth, stains them, and causes chronic bad breath.
Flossing every day. Most people find time to brush at least once or twice a day, but flossing is a chore that many avoid. However, it’s a necessary component of your daily tooth care regimen. Grab about 18 inches of floss, hold it tightly between your fingers and take your time going between each tooth. Don’t rush it: make sure you’re getting up into the gums to remove food particles that have accumulated there. It’s best to do this at night before bed.
Going to the dentist. The ADA recommends both adults and children visit the dentist twice per year. These six-month visits will ensure your teeth are properly cleaned and your mouth is looking good. You may need x-rays that can detect structural problems and cavities, which can be addressed quickly to avoid further problems down the road. Letting dental issues go too long without treatment can lead to infection, gingivitis, and tooth decay. Children should see the dentist for the first time when their first tooth emerges, usually around age one.
Avoiding sugary and sticky foods. Fruits and vegetables are better choices, of course, than cookies and cakes. However, there are other foods you’re eating that are surprisingly bad for your teeth, such as crackers, fish crackers, chips, dried fruits, and raisins. Foods high in starch can convert to sugar, which can rot the teeth. Always buy sugar-free gum and stay away from fruit snacks, cookies, breadsticks, taffy and hard candy. If you do decide to indulge (it’s OK once in awhile!), brush your teeth afterward.
Heed these tips to keep up the health of your teeth so you can smile with confidence!