Your mouth doesn’t just communicate through words. It can give you important signs about your health including clues of infection, illness or chronic disease. And, in some cases, issues with your mouth, teeth and gums can actually cause serious health conditions.
Making your oral hygiene a priority can go a long way in preventing a number of health conditions and managing the side effects of some chronic health conditions, like diabetes and cancer. Make sure you’re doing all you can to maintain your dental health, before it becomes a problem. These four simple tips can help.
Flossing may not be fun, but done properly it removes the plaque and food stuck between your teeth and under your gum line. That’s an important step in your oral hygiene routine since stuck food particles lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Be sure to floss at least once a day, preferably before you head to bed, to get rid of any food stuck in your teeth from snacks and meals.
2. Drink Fluoridated Water
In the 1940s, scientists discovered that individuals who drank water with naturally occurring fluoride levels of approximately one part fluoride per million parts water had fewer dental cavities. Scientists also realized that fluoride helps prevent and reverse tooth decay.
Now, all major cities have added fluoride to their water supplies to help improve everyone’s dental health. While there have been some concerns about a link between cancer and fluoridated water, research has found no associated risk between cancer and fluoridated water.
Next time you need a drink of water, reach for the tap instead of bottled water to help boost your dental health and reduce your risk of cavities.
3. Brush Properly
Brushing your teeth may not be as straightforward as you think. The American Dental Association (ADA) offers four simple steps for brushing away germs, sugar and plaque:
- Hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gums.
- Gently move your toothbrush back and forth across each tooth.
- Brush the front, back and ridges of your teeth.
- Clean the back of your teeth by tilting the brush vertically and making up and down strokes.
The ADA also reminds everyone to brush twice a day and to replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months.
4. Avoid Wearing Down Enamel
Your tooth enamel is the strongest thing in your body. Even so, brushing too hard or eating a diet that’s high in sugar or acidic foods, can wear it down. That’s bad news for your dental health as tooth enamel protects the softer, more sensitive inner tooth.
Signs of worn enamel include:
- Sensitivity to hot or cold foods
- Shiny surfaces on teeth
- Uneven edges on the teeth
- Yellow teeth
Prevent tooth enamel loss:
- Avoid brushing your teeth too hard
- Brush twice a day
- Chew sugar-free gum to lower acid in your mouth
- Cut down on acidic drinks like soda, orange juice and other fruit juices
- Drink more water
- Eat a piece of cheese or drink after a meal to balance acidic foods
- Floss daily
- Use a fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash
- Use a soft toothbrush
- Visit your dentist regularly
5. Put Down the Cigarette
The use of tobacco-based products is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, with it taking nearly half a million American lives per year. According to the American Dental Association, smoking a cigarette can lead to periodontal disease, tooth staining, gingival recession, and even oral cancer. Kicking the habit may greatly improve your oral and overall health before serious damage to your body occurs.
Keep Your Smile White and Bright
Make seeing the dentist part of your regular, preventive healthcare. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that only 64 percent of adults visited a dentist in 2015. The ADA recommends seeing a dentist at least once a year, but the frequency varies between people. Some individuals may need to go only once or twice a year, but others may require more frequent visits to manage their dental health.
At Emory Healthcare, we’re here to help you find the care you need when you need it. With more than 2,800 doctors and 300 locations, including 11 hospitals, as well as primary care offices, urgent cares and MinuteClinics, we’re delivering specialized care across the region, find a doctor near you to help you get and stay healthy.