Has the arrival of spring got you thinking about getting in shape and improving your diet? If you’ve decided to adopt some healthy living habits, now is a good time to focus on your oral health. As studies suggest a link between oral and general health, it’s never been more important to polish those pearly whites. If you’re eager to show off a dazzling, bright smile this spring, here are twelve simple steps to follow.
1. Learn how to brush your teeth properly
This may sound obvious, but dentists often find that patients brush their teeth incorrectly. Many people admit that they don;t brush for long enough and you may also be brushing too firmly or missing some of your teeth out. Take at least two minutes every morning and evening to brush your teeth thoroughly. Use a brush with a small head, so that you can reach right into the corners. Angle your brush to cover every individual surface and don’t forget to clean along the gum line. Use fluoride toothpaste to strengthen your enamel. Remember to swap your brush every 3-4 months and choose soft or medium bristles. If you’re worried that you’re not brushing for long enough, set a timer on your phone. You can also buy electric toothbrushes, which have a timer. If you’re a fan of the latest technology, invest in brush, which connects to your smartphone. Using an app, you can track your brushing movements and identify any areas for improvement.
2. Add flossing to your dental hygiene regime
It is often assumed that brushing will do the job. Sadly, your brush can only target a limited area. This is where flossing comes in handy. Flossing cleans the parts of the mouth, which you cannot reach with a brush. Cut off some lengths of floss and guide them through the gaps between your teeth. Always floss gently and never pull at the tape. Flossing only takes a couple of minutes, but it can really help to reduce your risk of developing plaque. Plaque is the main cause of decay and gum disease. When you floss for the first time, you may find that your gums bleed. If they continue to bleed, or you notice bleeding when you brush, contact your dentist.
3. Take out a dental insurance policy
Dental insurance covers the cost of dental treatment in return for a monthly or annual payment. There are many different plans to choose from, and you can take out individual, couples or family policies. Some employers offer health benefits, including dental insurance, as part of their incentives package. If you don’t already have dental insurance, it’s a good idea to do some research. Look at different providers, compare prices and read up on the benefits of dental insurance. A policy could save you a lot of money in the long-run, and seeing a dentist regularly will boost your oral health. View mydental.guardianlife.com for detailed info on plans and prices.
4. Book regular dental checks
If you haven’t been to the dentist in the last 6-9 months, pick up the phone and make an appointment. Regular checks reduce your risk of gum disease and decay. When you go for a checkup, your dentist will also look out for warning signs of oral cancer. It sounds a little dramatic, but a dental appointment could actually save your life. Many of us feel anxious about going to the dentist, but a routine check takes just a few minutes. There’s no pain involved, and if you go frequently, the chances of needing additional treatment will be much lower. Your dentist will also give your teeth a really good clean, so you’ll leave with a bright, beautiful smile.
5. Learn more about your diet
Most of us are aware that eating too much sugar makes us gain weight, but have you thought about the implications for your oral health? Your diet plays a very important role when it comes to your teeth and gums. It’s essential to think about what you eat and drink and also your eating habits. When you eat, the bacteria in your mouth feed on sugars, and this causes them to release plaque acids. These acids weaken your enamel temporarily.If you graze all day, this means that your enamel is under constant acid attack. Eventually, the protective outer layer of your teeth will become weak and worn. In order to protect your teeth and gums, try and stick to three main meals and avoid sugary and acidic foods and drinks.
6. Chew sugar-free gum
Chewing gum is good for your oral health because it stimulates the production of saliva. After eating, chewing sugar-free gum will help to neutralise acids in the mouth and clear away any food debris. Always make sure you choose sugar-free products and avoid chewing for more than two minutes.
7. Get symptoms checked out
If you notice unusual symptoms, such as heightened sensitivity or bleeding when you brush, see your dentist. Decay and gum disease are progressive diseases, and they will get worse the longer you leave them. If you do have early signs, your dentist can treat you before the situation gets any worse. Call and make an appointment if you experience toothache, swollen or sore gums or severe dental pain. Don’t wait until your next scheduled check-up.
8. Wait to brush your teeth after eating
It’s understandable to assume that the sooner you brush your teeth after eating, the better. However, brushing straight after eating can actually do more harm than good. At this time, your enamel is softer than usual, and brushing can cause damage. Wait around one hour after eating to brush your teeth. By this time, your enamel will have hardened.
9. Cut down on fizzy drinks
Fizzy drinks are one of the worst food products for your teeth. They usually contain a lot of sugar, and they also have low pH value. Even diet drinks can be very harmful because they are acidic.Many popular drinks, such as cola, also stain your teeth. If you have a soda habit, try to cut down and replace fizzy drinks with water or sugar-free cordial. It may be difficult to get used to your new diet at first, but you’ll soon notice a positive difference. You’ll also save a significant amount of money every month.
10. Hit your recommended daily intake of calcium
Calcium is an essential mineral for healthy, strong teeth, nails and bones. Calcium helps to reduce the risk of bone loss and gum disease. It is also instrumental in the repair and regeneration of existing cells and the creation of new cells. Without calcium, the body is unable to carry out many important functions. Good sources of calcium include dairy products, green leafy vegetables, tofu and nuts. Fortified bread and cereals are calcium-rich breakfast options. The recommended daily intake for adults is 1,000mg.
11. Protect your teeth
Sometimes, it’s impossible to prevent dental injuries. However, often, accidents can be prevented. Always ensure you wear a seatbelt when traveling in a moving vehicle. Wear a mouthguard when playing sport. Never use your teeth to try and open bottles or bite off labels. Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the body, but your teeth are not invincible. If you play contact sport, or you do martial arts, ask your dentist about mouth guards. Dentist-made guards offer a much better fit than gum shields you mould at home. They also tend to be better quality, so they will last much longer. You can usually choose from a range of different colors and patterns.
12. Visit your dental hygienist
If you long for whiter, brighter teeth, but you don’t want to fork out for whitening treatment, see your hygienist. Dental hygienists have expertise in oral hygiene, and they offer a broad spectrum of services. The cleaning treatments they provide are much more intensive and powerful than brushing at home. These treatments banish plaque and tartar and remove surface stains. When you’ve been to the hygienist, your teeth will look noticeably whiter, and your mouth will feel lovely and fresh. Ideally, you should try and see your hygienist once a year. If you are prone to staining, or you have a high risk of gum disease, organize more frequent sessions.
Dental health is something you should never take for granted. There is a growing body of evidence, which links poor oral health to an increased risk of general health issues. Focus on oral hygiene and keep up to date with routine dental checks. See your dentist if you experience any pain, or you notice bleeding when you brush. Pay attention to your diet and try to avoid foods, which pose a risk to your teeth and gums. Avoid snacking and wait for an hour to brush after a main meal. Brush gently, but thoroughly. If you follow these steps, your teeth will look better in no time and your risk of dental diseases will be significantly lower. You can then enjoy showing off that beautiful smile!