Keeping the teeth and gums in good shape is important to maintaining good oral health. With poor oral health, toothaches from cavities are inevitable. Research shows that gum disease can lead to other health issues in the body such as a greater risk of heart disease. Practicing good oral hygiene is vital in enjoying a mouth full of healthy teeth.
- Get an early start
Teach good oral care when children are very young. Dental care should begin as soon as a child’s first tooth appears at around the age of six months. Their teeth can be wiped with a clean and damp cloth or a very soft brush. Half of all children among the ages of 12 and 15 have cavities. Dental care is a lifetime task so get into the habit early!
- Seal off the teeth
To protect the permanent molars, a thin protective coating can be applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. These dental sealants can prevent decay within the pits and fissures of the teeth. However, only one in three kids in the United States have dental sealants. Discuss the option of sealants with an insurance company to find out if these preventative measures are covered under insurance.
- Strengthen with fluoride
Fluoride helps strengthen the enamel and is available in the drinking water of 3 out of 4 people. In addition, fluoride can be found in some toothpaste and mouthwash products. Check the label to see if an oral care product contains this essential element. Keep in mind that fluoride should be used in moderation with young children. A pea-sized amount of toothpaste is sufficient due to the fact that too much fluoride can cause white spots on the teeth.
- Daily dose of care
Brushing the teeth twice a day and flossing daily is crucial to keeping a healthy mouth and a luminous smile. Additionally, maintaining oral care can ward off tooth decay and gum disease. Remember that toothbrushes should be changed 3 to 4 times a year and teenagers with braces may need special toothbrushes or other tools to keep their teeth clean. Older people with arthritis, or people experiencing issues with gripping a toothbrush, sometimes find electric toothbrushes easier to use.
- Chew gum after meals
Chewing sugar-free gum or using an antibacterial rinse after meals can help prevent decay and gum problems. Chewing gum increases saliva flow which naturally protects the teeth by washing away bacteria and neutralizing acid.
- Block the teeth
Most school sports require participants to wear protective guards over the mouth. However, unsupervised activities such as rollerblading and skate-boarding can cause potential injuries to the teeth. Children who take part in these activities should wear a mouthguard that can be purchased at a sporting goods store.
- Say no to tobacco
Teaching kids at an early age not to smoke, or use smokeless tobacco, is crucial to good oral health. Tobacco stains the teeth and increases the risk of gum disease and oral cancer.
- Eat healthy
A well-balanced diet including fruits, veggies, grains, nuts and dairy products provide the nutrients needed to sustain healthy teeth and gums. Also, researchers believe that omega-3 fats may reduce inflammation and lower the risk of gum disease.
- Limit the sweet tooth
Cookies and candy taste good but too much is not good for a person. Sticky candies are sugary villains that linger on the surface of the tooth and weaken the enamel. Sugary soft drinks pose a threat because people tend to sip them and increase acid levels over a long period of time.
- Visit the dentist regularly
Visiting the dentist on a regular basis gets the tarter removed from the teeth that cannot be removed by the usual brushing and flossing. The dentist also looks for signs of decay, oral cancer, tooth grinding, gum disease and side effects of medications. For example, 9 out of 10 cases of oral cancer can be treated if found in an early stage. However, undetected oral cancer can be harder to treat since it can spread to other parts of the body. Gingivitis, or gum disease, is the leading cause of tooth loss with older people. Tooth grinding, also called bruxism, can leave a patient with worn down teeth and a risk of decay.