Woman flossing her white teeth

Important Tips for Keeping Your Teeth and Gums Healthy

October 17, 2021

A smile says a lot about our character. It can show that we are confident, professional, friendly, and willing to interact well with others. Beyond practicing proper daily habits, dentists are responsible to their patients to educate them on proper techniques for brushing and flossing, raise awareness about food and drink that can have significant implications for their oral health, and introduce positive habits to adopt and practice daily. In short, excellent dental health needs to be the primary goal of both patients and providers, working together to strengthen those pearly whites.

Interested in learning about important practices for protecting your oral health? Here are some tips for how to keep your teeth and gums healthy.

Brush Your Pearly Whites

Proper oral hygiene begins with frequent brushing. Brushing helps to protect your teeth by removing leftover food particles and plaque buildup. Toothpaste also contains mineral nutrients which can protect and strengthen enamel. There are many brushes from which to choose. It is essential to select one that is suitable for your mouth.

For example, there are different sizes and textures of bristles. The most common choice of toothbrushes is one with soft bristles—an excellent choice for individuals who tend to brush more rigorously than recommended, have sensitive gums, or simply want a gentler brushing experience. Hard, stiff bristles have the potential to cause damage to teeth and can lead to gum loss.

The American Dental Association (ADA) advises that individuals follow these guidelines for proper brushing:

  1. Brush teeth at least twice each day.
  2. Consider using a toothbrush with soft bristles.
  3. Replace your toothbrush often.

Floss Regularly

Most everyone understands the importance of flossing, but almost 70 percent of individuals do not floss regularly. Flossing is essential as it dislodges leftover food particles from between the teeth and gums. Left untouched, these remnants can trigger the growth of harmful bacteria, cause inflammation, and potentially lead to dental disease. Over time, bacteria colonies can also harden into plaque, which wears away the gums and bone and eventually causes irreparable tooth decay.

So, what’s the optimal way to floss your teeth? Follow these simple steps:

  1. Break off around 24 inches of dental floss.
  2. Wind the floss around two of your fingers and hold it taught.
  3. Glide the floss between your teeth, focusing on problem areas to dislodge any leftover food particles and reduce the buildup of plaque.

Reconsider Starchy, Sugary Foods

Much of caring for our teeth depends on what we eat. Foods that contribute to healthy, happy teeth include fiber-rich fruits and vegetables. Fiber induces the production of saliva, restoring vital nutrients to your mouth. Dairy-rich foods are another excellent trigger for salivary glands to get going. As an added benefit, they also help to restore enamel and keep our bones healthy and strong. Finally, foods with fluoride support the mineralization of bones and teeth.

Starchy, sugary foods form a thin layer of film around your teeth, which feeds bacteria and, over time, breaks down the enamel. Foods that you might want to avoid include sticky sweets, as they contain large amounts of refined sugar that can lead to cavities. Starchy foods are another problem, as particles can become trapped between teeth and contribute to an increase in the amount of plaque present. Sodas are another big no-no as most carbonated beverages contain large amounts of sugar and phosphoric and citric acid, which wear away at tooth enamel. Finally, alcoholic drinks tend to dry out the mouth, leading to decreased micronutrients present and opening the door for cavity-causing bacteria.

Visit Your Dentist

The bottom line is that we have biannual checkups for a reason. Dentists assist in the proper removal of plaque and can recognize the early signs of cavities, gum disease, poor breathing, such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), and other illnesses.

Excellent dental health needs to be the primary goal of both patients and providers, working together to protect those pearly whites. Educate your patients on the above, and ensure that they feel comfortable with the material. Foster a supportive, open line of communication to provide better overall health and happier patients in your dental practice.