Your smile is often one of the first aspects of your appearance that people notice. Smiling is also an important form of communication with others, so it’s natural to want yours to be as attractive as possible. Keeping your teeth healthy and clean is a key part of this, in addition to helping you avoid problems such as painful toothache, cavities, and gum disease. The good news is that there are plenty of simple lifestyle changes you can make to improve your oral health habits and achieve a dazzling smile.
Here are some top tips for looking after your teeth.
Get into a good tooth brushing routine
You almost certainly know this already, but brushing your teeth regularly and thoroughly is probably the most important step you can take to look after them. It’s best to brush your teeth at least twice a day (once in the morning and once before bed), and perhaps also after mealtimes if you’re trying to be extra careful. You want to brush for two minutes each time – set a timer if it helps – and use a circular motion across the front, back, and top of every tooth. Take care not to use too much pressure or brush too vigorously, as this can cause your gums to recede. To maximize your results, consider using mouthwash once or twice a day as a way to round off your dental routine.
Replace your toothbrush frequently
In addition to having the right toothbrushing technique, you need to have the right tools. As a general rule, you should replace your toothbrush every few months – or sooner if it starts to look frayed. In fact, a frayed toothbrush may be a sign that you’re brushing your teeth too hard, so don’t ignore this warning. Another option is to use an electric toothbrush, which can both monitor your brushing time and alert you if you’re using too much pressure. This website gives a good overview of the pros and cons to help you decide which type of toothbrush is best for you.
Floss your teeth daily
In addition to brushing your teeth, you should also be flossing them every day too. This is an effective way to remove plaque, bacteria, and any tiny particles of food that happen to get trapped between your teeth in spots where your toothbrush can’t dislodge them. Not only that, regular flossing has been shown to help reduce both gum inflammation and gum disease. This is more important than you might realize because gum disease has been linked to a wide range of medical conditions, include heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and osteoporosis. Click here to learn more – you’ll almost certainly find yourself reaching for the floss afterward!
Visit the dentist regularly
Just as it’s important to see your physician regularly, you should be making an appointment with your dentist approximately every six months for a general checkup. In addition to giving your teeth a more thorough clean than you’re able to at home, an Asheville NC dentist can take X-rays to check for any health issues, screen for conditions such as oral cancer, and give you personalized advice on taking care of your teeth. Plus, you can ask any questions you might have about dental hygiene – even the ones that you think are silly!
Don’t worry if the idea of visiting a dentist makes you feel anxious. Lots of people share these emotions, and your dentist is sure to be understanding. Here are some ways you can make the experience less intimidating:
- Tell your dentist how you feel, so they can tailor your appointment to meet your needs (for example, by pausing for breaks if you want them)
- Listen to calming music or a podcast during your treatment to block out the noise and give you something else to focus on
- Bring a friend with you for moral support – your dentist won’t mind them sitting in if you explain why
- Try to pinpoint the exact reasons that you’re afraid of going to the dentist, then apply logic to counter them (for example, many of those scary tools you’re picturing are not even in use anymore!)
- Try relaxation techniques before your appointments, such as meditation or breathing exercises, to reduce anxiety and feelings of stress. Headspace has some great ones you can try, even if you’re a beginner
- Reward yourself after your visit to provide some extra motivation (as long as it’s not a sugary treat that will undo all the good you’ve just done!). Read more about motivation on Very Well Mind.
- If you find the anxiety of going to the dentist is more of a phobia and too much to overcome on your own, enlist professional help by seeing a trained psychologist
Adopt a healthy diet
One other way in which you can keep your teeth healthy is by following the right sort of diet. For instance, everyone knows that sugar can be very damaging to your teeth. In fact, it’s one of the main sources of tooth decay because it causes the bacteria in your mouth to produce acid that attacks tooth enamel. Over time, this can cause cavities – holes in your teeth – to form. As such, it’s best to avoid sodas (even diet varieties) and sweets as much as possible (especially ones that are likely to get stuck to your teeth).
Another drink to be wary of is alcohol because this can dry out your mouth, which in turn prevents your saliva from washing away the acid. One key factor is not to keep snacking or drinking sodas throughout the day because this increases the amount of time that your teeth are exposed to these potentially damaging sugars.
So, what about the foods that are good for your teeth? Perhaps unsurprisingly, fresh vegetables are ideal. This is because they are firm, fibrous, and watery, and tucking into them encourages your mouth to produce more saliva. Some of the top ingredients to include in your meals are crunchy vegetables such as celery, leafy greens like spinach and kale, nuts, plus lean proteins such as fish and tofu. When it comes to drinks, water is always a good choice, but you can mix things up with some unsweetened green tea.