Benjamin Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” He might not have been thinking about his teeth when he said this, but it couldn’t be more true in regards to oral health! Implementing proactive habits to prevent oral issues like tooth decay, gingivitis, and even halitosis (bad breath) is the absolute best way to maintain good oral health.
The best news is that preventing oral issues isn’t very difficult; it just takes consistency and about ten minutes a day. When you consider the alternative—dental problems, money spent, dental work—ten minutes doesn’t seem so bad, does it? Keep reading for five simple ways to protect your oral health and prevent dental issues.
Brush Your Teeth (Correctly!)
Brushing your teeth is imperative when it comes to preserving your oral health. Specifically, you should brush your teeth at least twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. This suggestion is probably not news to you. But did you know that the way that you brush your teeth affects its effectiveness?
When you brush your teeth:
- Brush for two minutes
- Opt for a soft-bristled toothbrush
- Be gentle
- Angle your toothbrush 45 degrees in order to clean your gum line
- Use an electric toothbrush for even better cleaning
And don’t forget to replace your toothbrush or toothbrush head every three months or so. This will prevent bacteria from accumulating on your toothbrush and transferring to your mouth.
Floss Every Day
We get it. Most people hate flossing. It’s an extra thing to add to your routine, and it can be painful when not done regularly. But flossing is truly the best way to keep your gums healthy and prevent dental problems like gingivitis and gum disease. It also removes existing plaque, reduces plaque buildup, and eliminates bacteria between your teeth that brushing alone can’t get rid of.
The American Dental Association recommends flossing every day, and so do we. But some flossing is better than none, so if this one is hard for you, start with once flossing one day a week. Slowly add in more days until you’re flossing at least every other day. Your gums will thank you. And if you just can’t make flossing work, consider using a water flosser!
Visit the Dentist Regularly
Keeping up with annual dental exams and cleanings ensures that any existing or developing dental problems are caught as early as possible. Rather than waiting until you are experiencing tooth pain or gum sensitivity to visit your dentist, attending annual exams can keep things from getting that far in the first place.
If you smoke, are pregnant, elderly, or have a history of gum disease or frequent cavities, we recommend seeing your dentist twice a year to stay on top of your oral health.
Scrape Your Tongue
This might be a new one for you! Your tongue is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, so cleaning it is critical in maintaining a healthy oral microbiome. Brushing your tongue with a toothbrush whenever you brush your teeth is a great way to clean it, but tongue scraping is even more effective. Tongue scrapers remove more buildup than a regular toothbrush can, especially because toothbrushes tend to move bacteria around on your tongue rather than actually removing it. This should be done after brushing and flossing.
When you start tongue scraping, you’ll also notice fresher breath!
First off, let us be clear that mouthwash cannot replace brushing and flossing your teeth. However, it can serve as an additional layer of support on top of those practices. Mouthwash helps remove bacteria and keeps your breath smelling fresh. It can also reduce plaque and prevent cavities, when used in conjunction with brushing and flossing.
You can add mouthwash to your morning or evening routine, or both. Alternatively, you might choose to mouthwash after lunch, in between your daily brushing sessions. This can fight off new bacteria until your evening brush.
Start with One New Habit
If you are feeling overwhelmed because your daily dental habits don’t look anything like what we’ve outlined above, take a deep breath. You don’t need to implement all of these at once; in fact, you are more likely to stick with them if you slowly implement one at a time, until it becomes a normal part of your routine.
If you’re not regularly brushing your teeth, start there. If you are regularly brushing your teeth, but only once a day, start with adding this habit to your morning or evening routine. Then, incorporate flossing. As you see the benefits of proper oral health in the form of fresh breath, painless gum, and no cavities, you’ll find yourself encouraged to implement the other preventative measures as well.
Family Dentist in Berkeley, CA
Looking for a family dentist near you? Ashby Dental in Elmwood serves families in Berkeley, California, and the surrounding areas with comprehensive and affordable dental services including preventative dentistry, restorative dentistry, and cosmetic dentistry to preserve your oral health and make your smile shine. Contact us today to schedule a routine dental exam.