Raise your hand if floss more is on your list of New Year’s resolutions. If so, congrats on taking the first step towards a healthier mouth. If not, it’s not too late to turn 2021 around and get cracking (not literally, see: tip #4).
So how can you improve your oral health fast?
There’s no overnight elixir but starting with the basics and breaking a few bad habits can get you back on track for a healthy smile. And it’s not just about flossing, although that is very important (see: tip #1). It’s about changing daily habits and prioritizing your oral health as much as you prioritize dieting, exercise, and that annual physical.
1. Floss Daily
Flossing may sound obvious, but it’s a habit that only 41% of Americans practice daily. And many of us can’t articulate exactly what the benefits of flossing are.
When food is lodged between your teeth, the bacteria can slowly wear away at your tooth’s enamel until the inner structure of your tooth is exposed. That exposure leads to cavities, inflammation, and ultimately gingivitis. While string floss always reigns supreme, if you really hate flossing, water flossers and interdental aids are great alternatives.
2. Stop Rinsing!
Rinsing is a bad habit? Yes! While it may sound and feel counterintuitive, toothpaste is filled with fluoride that works hard to prevent cavities. That cavity-fighting strength swims straight down the drain when you rinse your mouth with water after brushing.
At your last dental checkup, you may remember your dentist leaving a fluoride treatment on your teeth and asking you not to eat or drink for thirty minutes afterward. Leaving your drugstore toothpaste on has a similar effect. And if you’re like many of us who squirm at the thought of leaving paste on your teeth, try putting a mouth guard over your teeth after brushing to tune-out the pasty sensation. Using a fluoride mouthwash before bed (without rinsing your mouth out with water) is another way to keep fluoride working hard throughout the night.
3. Eat Well…
Switch to sugarless gum and avoid snacking throughout the day. It’s no secret that sugar contributes to tooth decay, but when you eat can be just as detrimental as what you eat. Try creating a designated snacking time to avoid constant crumbs. Food that sits on your teeth for a prolonged period can quickly cause cavities and inflammation.
4. … & Avoid Jaw Breakers
Foods like popcorn, nuts, chicken bones, bars, and hard candy should be infrequent treats. And if you can’t resist, at least be cautious. While a chipped tooth isn’t the end of the world, it’s best to avoid them. Even minor chips expose the inner structure of your teeth making them more vulnerable to infections.
5. Stay Hydrated
Water is not only great for your general health, but it’s also great for your teeth in ways you’ve probably never thought of. Water removes that lingering food from between your teeth (think sugar and carbs from your midday snack) which attracts the bacteria that cause tooth decay and gingivitis. Even dry mouth can create tooth decay. So staying hydrated is a catch-all solution. Drinking water throughout the day keeps your mouth clean and prevents daily dryness. Not to mention, water is a sugar-free and calorie-free alternative to juice and soda, both beverages filled with enough sugar and acidic fruit juice to derail your dental health.
6. Go to The Dentist! And Then Go Again
Once is not enough. And chances are, a year of COVID delayed your annual check-up. So if it’s been over a year since your last dentist appointment, don’t wait – schedule one today!
7. Change Your Mindset
While you may not view your teeth and gums as the most vital organs, oral health impacts your overall health. Yes, neglecting basic brushing and flossing can lead to tooth decay and gum disease, which are serious health concerns. But beyond your mouth, a buildup of oral bacteria can also trigger or worsen conditions impacting the rest of your body. Endocarditis, diabetes, pneumonia, pregnancy complications, and even cardiovascular disease are just a few.
So stop thinking about brushing, flossing, and mouthwash as a tired afterthought and take oral care seriously. This small shift in perspective will help motivate you to stick with healthy habits and leave tooth and gum neglect in 2020.
If you left oral care by the wayside throughout quarantine, it’s not too late to turn things around. Sometimes all it takes is a shift in mindset and a few new routines to reverse your dental future and improve your overall health.
Sedki Dentistry will help keep your oral health in check and your smile bright anytime of the year. Don’t wait for a dental emergency, our full-service dental office can address all your dental health needs. Our personalized services include everything from dental veneers and braces to dental implants, bridges and gum rejuvenation.
Dr. Sedki and his staff have over 20 years’ experience and are committed to providing the highest quality dental care using the latest techniques in general and cosmetic dentistry.
More questions about oral health? Contact our Commerce Dental Office! Happy brushing