5 Tips for Healthy Teeth and Gums
It’s important to take care of your pearly whites. Your teeth play a role in how you eat, how you look and how you feel, and your oral health could even be an indicator of your overall health.
And yet, many people struggle when it comes to oral hygiene. According to research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 91 percent of adults ages 20 to 64 experienced tooth decay—something that is mostly preventable. Brush up on your tooth and gum health by following these tips.
- Start early. Parents should use a damp cloth with warm water or soft toothbrush to wipe off an infant’s gums every time he or she consumes food, according to the National Children’s Oral Health Foundation.
- Keep a regular oral hygiene schedule. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends brushing twice a day for two minutes per session using a soft brush and replacing that brush every three to four months. (To learn the proper brushing technique, visit ADA’s site, mouthhealthy.org). The ADA also recommends cleaning between your teeth once a day with floss. Flossing helps remove plaque from teeth and may help prevent tooth decay and cavities.
- Choose water. According to the ADA, water is beneficial to your dental health for a couple of reasons. First, when you drink water rather than sugary beverages such as juice or soda, you’re rinsing food and bacteria off your teeth. Second, research shows that water with fluoride actually helps prevent cavities.
- Don't smoke. According to the CDC, smokers have twice the risk for gum disease when compared with non-smokers. “Smoking weakens your body's infection fighters (your immune system). This makes it harder to fight off a gum infection. Once you have gum damage, smoking also makes it harder for your gums to heal,” reports the CDC.
- Eat a balanced diet. A balanced diet contributes to good health, and that includes good dental health. The ADA recommends consuming plenty of nutritious foods, including fruits and vegetables, dairy, lean protein and grains. See MyPlate.gov for more details and tips on how to eat a balanced diet.
By seeing your dentist regularly, you can stay on top of your oral health. A dentist and/or hygienist can clean your teeth, examine you for any potential problems, take X-rays and more. When you develop a relationship with your dentist, he or she can get to know you and your family history, and help you stay on top of your health. That’s something to smile about.