Health begins at home; we build it with regular habits and daily effort. This is especially true for oral health. While regular trips to the dentist are important, what we do at home in terms of regular oral health care is the foundation for a lifetime of brilliant smiles and healthy teeth and gums. So let’s talk about how to optimize oral health care at home, and the regular habits, practices, and routines we can adopt that will help us maximize our oral health to the greatest degree possible.
Let’s start with the most obvious part: regular and effective brushing and flossing is a critical function in optimizing oral health care at home. It has a couple of key components–we have to brush and floss regularly, meaning at least three times a day and before bedtime. We have to do so effectively, using a good brush and proper technique. And we have to do these things regularly–every day, to get the best results.
Equally essential to good brushing and flossing habits, maintaining a good diet is vital to oral health. We are all guilty of neglecting this sometimes but eating healthy should be a priority in all aspects of our lives. From an oral health perspective, this means eating a diet that’s low in sugars and starches, high in proteins and vegetables, and that limits foods and beverages that might stain or discolor our teeth. Limiting sugars and starches is especially important, as they provide the food that fuels bacteria growth, which in turn leads to gum disease, cavities, and eventually tooth loss. By contrast, foods high in calcium and other minerals can help strengthen teeth and keep them healthy.
Perhaps a more contentious set of good habits and practices, optimizing oral health means giving up or limiting alcohol and tobacco use. There’s no easy way to say this, but using alcohol and tobacco is bad for your teeth. Tobacco is the worst offender–smoking and chewing tobacco should be avoided entirely. For those of us who are tobacco users: it’s time to quit, and there are resources available to help us do it so let’s check them out. Likewise, it’s also time to reduce or limit alcohol consumption, and there are resources to help there too.
Speaking of beverage habits: coffee and tea can stain our teeth, and alcohol causes numerous oral health issues, but drinking enough water is a vital oral health habit. Dehydration is bad for our bodies all around, but it can cause problems for our teeth and gums. By drinking enough water, we ensure our bodies can produce enough saliva, which mineralizes our teeth and helps protect them from damage and decay. Adequate hydration–drinking enough water–also helps prevent bad breath, gum disease, and mouth sores, so make sure you’re getting the hydration you need every day.
This is a good starting point, but we all have our oral health needs and goals. If you’re due for a dental exam and cleaning, or just have another issue you’d like to discuss, it’s time to make an appointment and come in to see us. We’ll help you optimize your oral health care, both with good at-home habits and in our office.