Spring Cleaning: Oral Health Edition
When was the last time you went to the dentist?
If you answered “more than six months ago”, it’s about time you made an appointment. Getting a professional dental cleaning at least twice a year is one of the most basic dental tips to improve your oral health. With Spring just around the corner, it’s a good time to ensure your oral health is in good shape!
Having a dentist or hygienist clean your teeth reinforces the oral health regimen of brushing and flossing. Plus, it gives the dentist an opportunity to locate areas in the mouth that may need special attention. After all, you can’t remove stains, apply fluoride or polish your teeth at home (unless you live at a dentist’s office!).
Here are six tips to keep your teeth happy in the Spring and beyond.
• Brush after every meal (three times per day) and especially before bedtime. Brushing removes food debris and stimulates gums.
• Pack a travel toothbrush and paste in your bag or purse, or keep a set in your office desk so you can brush after lunch.
• Replace your toothbrush every three to four months, and after a cold or flu.
• Use a soft-bristled toothbrush because hard bristles can damage the gum line if used improperly.
• Floss once a day, preferably at night before brushing. Using dental floss first gives the fluoride in the toothpaste a better chance of reaching between the teeth.
• For a flossing refresher, click here.
• People with arthritis and young children who are just developing fine motor skills may find floss sticks (also called floss picks), easier to use than the spooled ribbon.
• Your dentist will suggest scheduling an appointment every three to nine months, depending on the health of your teeth.
• Expect the following at each visit: a review of your medical history (meds and overall health), your dental concerns, the exam (check teeth, gum tissue, bone level in adults), plus a cleaning and a discussion about oral hygiene. X-rays are recommended once every two years for adults but not for kids unless there’s a concern. Kids from 3 to 18 will receive a fluoride treatment.
• Seniors may need more regular visits, since teeth typically become more brittle with age.
• Kids should go to the dentist every six to nine months as recommended by your dentist.
• Choose healthy foods, such as dark chocolate! Researchers at Osaka University in Japan found that parts of the cocoa bean prevent mouth bacteria and tooth decay.
• Sugar-free chewing gum increases saliva flow and cleans out food debris from teeth.
• Apples produce saliva and clean teeth.
• Hard cheese protects teeth from bacteria and has calcium, which helps rebuild teeth.
No sweets or popcorn
• We all know sugar causes cavities, but what’s the problem with popcorn? Husks get lodged between teeth and under gums, causing inflammation and pain. Worse, kernels can crack incisors and even molars.
• If you suspect that your teeth are susceptible to cracking, consult your dentist.
Fight bad breath
• When brushing your teeth, don’t forget to brush your tongue. Use a non-alcoholic mouthwash.
• If bad breath persists (and your teeth are in good working order), it may be a stomach issue such as acid reflux. Consult your physician.
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