Care to hear some alarming statistics? More than one-quarter of American adults have untreated cavities, more than half have gum disease symptoms, and one in ten have severe periodontal disease that requires specialist help.
Luckily, it’s never too late to turn your oral health around. So continue reading to learn seven tips you can implement right away to help you achieve healthy teeth and gums.
1. It’s All About Brushing
The first step to great gum health is one you should already be familiar with; brushing your teeth. And while you may already know that you must brush twice daily, it may surprise you that you must perfect your technique to see the full benefit.
Here’s how to properly brush for healthy teeth and gums:
- Angle your toothbrush towards your gum line
- Use soft, circular strokes
- Pressing hard will wear away your gums and enamel
- Spend at least 30 seconds in each quadrant for a total of 2 minutes
If you think you’ll have difficulty keeping track of how hard you brush, or if you want an easy way to ensure you’re spending enough time, consider investing in an electric toothbrush. Most are preset to alert you to change quadrants, or if you’re using too much force, so you can always be sure you execute the perfect brush.
2. Stop Smoking
Smokers are 50% more likely to develop gum disease or periodontal issues. When you smoke, carbon monoxide replaces oxygen in your blood, causing you to have less oxygen in your blood overall, and lesser the further you get from your heart, like your head, hands, or feet. In addition, it lowers the antioxidants in your bloodstream, making you prone to infections, which then take longer to resolve.
This lack of oxygen and lowered ability to fight infections allows harmful bacteria and plaque to proliferate, causing periodontal disease that often can’t be resolved until the individual quits smoking.
3. Avoid Alcohol
People who drink alcohol on a daily basis are three times more likely to lose permanent teeth. And while there aren’t enough studies that measure the impact of alcohol on a moderate drinker, many dentists say the effects are still apparent.
One contributing reason is likely how alcohol, spirits, in particular, dry out your mouth. This is harmful because saliva naturally protects your teeth and prevents plaque buildup. So if your mouth is dry, it can’t do its job, leaving you susceptible to an increased risk of disease or decay.
4. Tame Your Sweet Tooth
When you consume sugary treats or beverages, you’re also inadvertently feeding hordes of harmful bacteria in your mouth. And as they grow and multiply, they produce an acid that wears down your teeth’s protective enamel and contributes to increased plaque.
So, avoid the sweets, and you just might keep cavities and periodontal disease at bay.
5. Don’t Forget Your Veggies
Deliciously crispy raw vegetables can improve your oral health in several ways. Nutritionally, many are high in vitamin C, which helps healing and fighting infections (looking at you, gum disease!), and vitamin A, which your body puts to use to help build enamel. In addition, with a high water and high-fiber content, eating raw vegetables help scrub off some tartar, keeping your teeth clean.
So, if you want healthy gums, opt for extra servings of vegetables.
6. Flossing for the Win
If there is one dental habit that dentists have the hardest time getting their patients to commit to regularly, it’s flossing. More than half of adults don’t floss, and nearly all of them said that interdental cleaners are too hard to use but would use them more often if it was easier. Unfortunately, those people are ignoring the place in their mouth where they’re most likely to get cavities; between the teeth.
However, flossing is easy once you know how to do it right. If you want to reap the benefits of flossing, here’s how:
- Start with a length of about 18 inches
- Spool the floss around both of your middle fingers until you have a manageable section to use
- Slide the floss between your teeth, pulling it into a u-shape on one side of your tooth
- Scrape away tartar by gently sliding up, down, and away from your gums
Repeat on the other side of the tooth and then keep going until all your teeth are done. It will also be easier if you start in the back and work your way to the other side to ensure you don’t miss anything.
7. Visit Your Dentist
Going to the dentist regularly is the only way to ensure optimum oral health. You can employ tips one through six, but if you abandon number seven and your visits to the dentist are far and few between, you can put your mouth at risk.
This is because your dentist and hygienist have access to tools, like intraoral imaging, x-rays, or specialized instruments, that you don’t have at home. These assist your dental care professionals in diagnosing things that can’t be seen with the naked eye, such as oral cancer. Their tools are also used for treatment and (everyone’s favorite) a thorough cleaning.
For most, visiting twice yearly is enough to maintain good health. But, in cases where there is gum disease present, your doctor may recommend visits every three or four months instead.
And don’t be ashamed if you haven’t been to the dentist in a long time. Your doctor has seen everything before and will work with you to create the perfect plan to get you back on track in caring for your teeth.
Achieve Healthy Teeth and Gums With These Tips
Now that you’ve read this guide, you know what you can do to have healthy teeth and gums and keep them that way. But remember, you can’t have excellent oral health without visiting your dentist for regular checkup appointments.
At Newbury Dental Group, we provide high-quality care in a relaxed and comfortable setting. Contact us today to make an appointment and see why our patients in Newbury Park and Thousand Oaks, CA think we’re the best. Emergency appointments available!