Have you ever heard the saying “a smile goes a long way”? A good smile says a lot about our character. It shows that we are confident, professional, friendly, and willing to interact well with others. Each year, the Oral Health Foundation sponsors National Smiles Month to raise awareness for important dental health issues. From brushing and flossing your teeth to avoiding food that might be harmful to your oral health and scheduling regular visits with your dentists, there are many positive habits you can implement. So, what are you waiting for? It’s National Smiles Month! We’ve got some tips and tricks to ensure excellent dental health and protect those pearly whites.
Brush, Brush, Brush
Good oral hygiene begins with proper and frequent brushing. Brushing protects your teeth by removing food particles and plaque and coating them with mineral nutrients to strengthen the enamel. There are many different brushes, and it is essential to choose the right fit for your mouth. The most commonly sought-after toothbrush is one with soft bristles. This is a crucial choice for individuals who tend to brush with rigorous movements. Stiff bristles can damage teeth and lead to gum loss. The American Dental Association (ADA) advises that individuals follow these guidelines:
- Brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day.
- Use a toothbrush with soft bristles.
- Replace your toothbrush every three months or sooner if the bristles wear down.
- Both manual and electric toothbrushes are effective.
Floss, Floss, Floss
Most people understand the importance of flossing, but almost 70 percent of us do not floss regularly. Flossing removes food particles from between the teeth. Left untouched, these remnants can trigger the growth of bacteria, cause inflammation of the gums, and lead to dental disease. Over time, the colonies of bacteria, or plaque, can harden, wearing away at the gums and bone and eventually causing tooth decay. What’s the best way to floss your teeth? Follow these simple steps to ensure a healthier, cleaner smile.
- Break off around 24 inches of dental floss.
- Wind the floss around two of your fingers and hold it taught.
- Gently place the floss between your teeth, moving it around to dislodge any food particles or plaque build-up.
Avoid Harmful Food and Drink
As the saying goes, “you are what you eat.” That reigns true, especially for your teeth and gums. Starchy, sugary foods form a thin layer around your teeth, feeding germs and bacteria and breaking down the enamel. Here’s a list of the best and worst foods for your teeth to ensure optimal oral health. Let’s start with foods that contribute positively to your dental health.
- Fiber-rich fruits and vegetables: Foods rich in fiber are a natural way to keep your teeth clean. Fiber induces the production of saliva, restoring vital nutrients to your mouth.
- Cheese, milk, and yogurt: Dairy-rich foods are another excellent trigger for salivary glands to get going. They also help restore enamel and keep our bones healthy and strong.
- Green and black tea: These substances contain polyphenols, micronutrients that we get from plant-based foods, which prevent the spread of gum disease-causing bacteria.
- Foods with fluoride: Fluoride supports the mineralization of bones and teeth.
And here are some foods that you might want to avoid.
- Sticky sweets: Candies and other desserts contain large amounts of refined sugar, leading to cavities and tooth decay.
- Starchy foods: Foods containing significant amounts of starch can become trapped between teeth and contribute to an increase in the amount of plaque present.
- Carbonated drinks: Most carbonated beverages contain large amounts of sugar, as well as phosphoric and citric acid, which wear away at tooth enamel.
- Alcohol: Beverages that contain alcohol tend to dry out the mouth, leading to a decrease in micronutrients present and opening the door for cavity-causing bacteria.
Visit the Dentist Regularly
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, and other dental illnesses. In addition, the ADA now recommends that you have your dentist screen for a sleeping disorder. Why? Dentists are the front line for screening and providing the oral appliance therapy you need. Good oral hygiene is critical to our overall well-being. And National Smiles Month is the perfect time to analyze our dental habits and raise awareness for important dental health issues. For more information on how you can get involved, click here.