Oral health significantly impacts the overall health of a person. If we spend the necessary time and effort to ensure that our oral hygiene is optimal, we will be healthier. Adding simple preventative dental care tips to your daily routine can improve your overall health immensely. Conversely, if we do not, we open ourselves up to the possibility of ill-health and disease. Keep reading to discover what some of the good practices are to have healthy teeth.
Healthy Mouth, Healthy Body
If the eyes are the windows to the soul, then the mouth is the entryway to the rest of the body. Not quite as poetic, but nonetheless true. The synergism between good oral health and overall wellness has been well researched. Preventative dental care isn’t just dental visits for cleanings and check-ups every 6 months; true preventative routine dental care starts at home. When combined with routine dental care visits, it can impact your life and, in turn, your confidence.
As with other areas of your body, the mouth represents an environment of delicate balance. If the balance is lost, then things start to go wrong. Take, for instance, the millions of bacteria found within the oral cavity. They are mostly harmless, but when the environment in the oral cavity lends itself to the proliferation of these bacteria, diseases can occur in the mouth and within the body. Gum disease, for example, has been implicated in a long list of illnesses, including diabetes, heart disease, respiratory disease, and osteoporosis. According to research carried out by the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry, people with gum disease were two times more likely to die from a heart attack and three times more likely to suffer a stroke. With the body’s natural defenses, good oral hygiene, and preventive dental care, the bacteria that cause gum disease will be kept in check.
Tooth decay, although preventable, remains the most common chronic disease in the 6–19 year age group and can account for pain and infection, which both have significant systemic effects on the body.
Therefore, having a healthy mouth can be a line of defense against illness or disease, but how can this be achieved? We’ll give you one guess— preventative dental care!
What Is Preventative Dental Care?
Ideal Oral health
Achieving your best oral health includes much more than just brushing your teeth. It involves the following:
Routine Dental Care
As soon as a child gets their first tooth, they should be visiting the dentist, and this forms the basis of preventive dental care that is carried on throughout life. As a child, this includes cleanings, topical fluoride treatment (to strengthen teeth and prevent cavities), and sealants (which also prevent cavities).
Children and adults should visit their dentist every 6 months for a cleaning and examination. Not only does a dental cleaning reduce the risk of the health problems discussed above, but it also facilitates the removal of calculus (hardened plaque that can only be removed with professional cleaning). Examinations allow for any potential problems to be identified before they become worse, and it may involve taking X-rays.
An important pillar in your oral health routine is what you do at home to ensure that you maintain good oral hygiene, and this must include:
Teeth should be brushed twice a day for at least 2 minutes using fluoride toothpaste. This simple sentence contains so much vital information that it needs to be looked at in its component parts.
Brushing twice daily means brushing once in the morning and (very importantly) at night before bed to get rid of the plaque accumulating on your teeth throughout the day.
If you think of the mouth as being divided into 4 sections, the 2-minute timer ensures that at least 30 seconds are spent in each quadrant of your mouth, which should mean that all surfaces of your teeth are brushed. The technique is also important here—your brush should be held at a 45-degree angle to the tooth’s surface, directed at your gums. It is then moved gently back and forth in short strokes that cover the width of the tooth on the outer, inner, and chewing surfaces. Your tongue must also be brushed (or cleaned with a tongue scraper) as it can trap plaque and cause bad breath.
A soft toothbrush with fluoride toothpaste should be used. Fluoride toothpaste has been shown to strengthen enamel and make teeth more resistant to decay. Toothbrushes should be changed every 3 to 4 months or sooner if you have had a cold.
The bristles of a toothbrush simply cannot reach between the tight spaces of teeth or under the gum line. Therefore, flossing is crucial. When flossing, about 18 inches (or a piece that is the length of your forearm) should be used. Most of the floss should be wound on the middle finger of one hand and the remainder around the middle finger on the other hand. The floss should then be gripped tightly between the thumb and forefinger and gently guided between the teeth in a rubbing motion, following the curve of the teeth and avoiding damage to the gums.
This should be done one tooth at a time, unwinding fresh floss as you progress around the mouth. If you find traditional floss hard to maneuver, perhaps an interdental brush or water flosser might suit you.
Mouthwashes can be used to freshen breath and remove any food particles that may be lingering in the mouth. Additionally, some mouthwashes contain fluoride.
Clean the Surface of Your Tongue Daily
By using a professional tongue cleaner, you remove bacteria that otherwise live, particularly on the rougher top surface of your tongue. These can contribute to bad breath and negatively affect your dental health.
Watching What You Eat
Food and drinks high in sugars are the perfect substrates for bacteria within the oral cavity to act upon and produce acids. These acids cause cavities to form. Limiting your consumption of these sugary foods and drinks and instead choosing to eat fresh fruits and vegetables and drinking lots of water will greatly reduce your risk of cavities. Additionally, habits such as chewing sugar-free gum will stimulate salivary flow and help to fight cavities.
Learn More About Your Best Oral Health Routine
Your oral health can be the best it can be if you practice good oral hygiene at home, have a healthy diet, and visit your dentist for regular preventive dental care. Remember, a healthier you starts with a healthier mouth. Oral hygiene is an important part of your daily routine. Choosing the best practices for the long term will help ensure your teeth stay healthier for longer. Contact Dean Dental Solutions today at (501) 271-3735, or submit this form to request an appointment.