Nothing makes you look more beautiful than a big smile. Keep your smile bright and your teeth healthy with these oral hygiene tips.
Everyone knows you should brush your teeth twice a day, but are you brushing your teeth right? Keep the bristles of your toothbrush at a 45 degree angle near the gum line. The toothbrush should touch both your gums and your teeth. If your gums feel sensitive, or bleed, that means that they are weak and need to be strengthened with regular, gentle brushing.
Don’t stop after brushing the outside of your teeth, give the inside surfaces of your teeth and gum some attention as well. Be sure that you are brushing in all directions, moving the brush in an up and down, and side to side motion.
Professionals recommend that you brush your teeth for two minutes, twice a day, but most people don’t actually brush for the full two minutes. Set a timer, or turn on an upbeat song to help you keep track of the time.
Before you put your toothbrush away, make sure you brush your tongue! A quick tongue brushing can help remove bacteria from the rough top surface, which can contribute to bad breath.
Brushing your teeth only takes two minutes, so make sure you give it your full attention for that time. Absent minded brushing leads to missed spots, and a buildup of plaque and tartar.
Your dentist’s plea for you to floss more often isn’t just nagging. Flossing helps remove tiny food particles from between your teeth that regular brushing can’t get to. As food breaks down in the cracks of your teeth, the sugars eat away at your teeth, causing tiny cavities between your teeth that can be both painful and expensive to fix.
Only 40% of Americans say they floss on a daily basis. Though annoying, the benefits of flossing massively outweigh the irritation of stopping to floss for one minute every night. And just think how impressed your dental hygienist will be at your next appointment!
Get the Right Gear
Dental professionals recommend replacing your toothbrush every three months. Soft, worn out bristles are less effective at removing plaque.
Consider investing in an electric toothbrush for a deeper clean. But remember, an electric toothbrush can’t brush your teeth for you, so make sure you are hitting all the corners of your mouth. Electric toothbrush heads should also be replaced every three months.
Make sure your toothbrush is clean between brushings. A thorough rinse in warm water should be sufficient, but germaphobes can also soak the toothbrush head in antimicrobial mouthwash, or sanitize the bristles with boiling water.
Wash Out the Germs
Mouth rinses can’t replace brushing and flossing, but they can help increase your oral hygiene. The antimicrobial properties of mouthwash reduce bacteria and plaque, which can lead to gingivitis and gum disease. Some mouthwashes also have fluoride, which can help reduce and prevent tooth decay. Make sure you are following the directions on the bottle, and listening to your dentist’s advice, some mouthwashes can be harmful if swallowed.
Regularly Visit Your Dentist
Daily oral hygiene is the most important factor in promoting oral health, but regular visits to the dentist are vital as well. You should go to the dentist twice a year for a cleaning and checkup. The dental hygienist can deep clean your teeth and scrape away any plaque and tartar that may have built up between appointments. Annual x-rays are also crucial for catching any cavities or other dental problems before they worsen.
Some dental problems can’t be brushed away. Crowded and crooked teeth can lead to gum disease, and eventual tooth loss. Cosmetic dentistry can help straighten your smile, and prevent future oral diseases.
Think About What You Are Putting in Your Mouth
Smoking isn’t just bad for your lungs, it’s bad for your teeth. Tobacco can lead to tooth staining, gum disease, and in even more extreme cases, tooth loss and mouth cancer. The nicotine and tar in cigarettes leech into your mouth when you smoke, leading to gross yellow smoker teeth. In addition, smoking leads to an increase of bacterial plaque and gum disease, which can cause teeth to fall out.
Sugary beverages like soda are also damaging for your teeth. Your mouth bacteria makes acids as it breaks down the sugars in pop and juice, and these acids, in conjunction with the acids already in soda, eat through the protective enamel on your teeth, leading to cavities and tooth decay.
If you are really serious about keeping tooth staining at bay, consider cutting coffee and wine from your diet. The dark pigments in these beverages can get caught in the microscopic ridges and pits in your teeth, leading to staining.
Healthy Foods Lead to a Healthy Smile
Calcium is good for your teeth as well as your bones. Drink milk and fortified orange juice for healthier, stronger teeth. You can also get calcium from eating yogurt, broccoli, cheese, and other dairy products. If you don’t eat enough calcium rich foods in your regular diet, consider taking a calcium supplement.
Besides calcium, Vitamin D is important for maintaining healthy gums and teeth. Vitamin B complex vitamins, found in dark leafy greens, chicken, fish, eggs and yogurt, protects gums and teeth from cracking and bleeding. In addition, copper, zinc, iodine, iron and potassium are all beneficial for promoting oral health.
Practice Makes Perfect
Maintaining your oral health requires a bit of work, but it’s well worth it if you want to keep a bright smile and strong teeth for many years to come. If you have young children, start them down the right path by instilling good brushing and flossing habits and avoiding a sugary diet. If you’re an adult who is trying to correct poor habits of the past, remember that it’s never too late!
Brush regularly, choose a healthy diet, and, of course, quit smoking! Visit your dentist once a year and you’ll be smiling well into old age.
Daniel White is a freelance blogger who has been writing about health and wellness for nearly 10 years. Based in Southern California, when he’s not brushing up against another deadline, he loves to hit the beach with his trusty surfboard.