Keep Your Smile Healthy with These Oral Hygiene Tips

Good oral hygiene can not only impact the health of your smile, but it is also important for your overall health, too. Recent studies have found that gum disease can lead to other health issues, including heart disease.

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research reports that 92 percent of adults have had cavities in their permanent teeth and 26 percent have untreated decay, making it extra important for adults to review their hygiene habits.

“Our patients often think they are doing everything they can to prevent cavities and gum disease, but we still see a lot of decay,” said CompleteCare Health Network’s Dental Director Dr. Jean-Claude Dungasi. “Making sure you have a complete oral hygiene routine is important for patients of every age to prevent dental problems.”

The good news is that taking care of your teeth and gums is easy, just follow these simple tips!

Brush, Brush, Brush. Brushing is a daily part of a good oral health routine and should be done at least twice each day. The American Dental Association recommends placing your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against the teeth while moving the brush back and forth gently in short strokes. When brushing, be sure to take your time and brush all surfaces of your teeth, including the outer, inner and chewing surface. You can also use your brush to clean your tongue which will help your breath stay fresh. Be sure to change your toothbrush regularly, too. Dentists recommend replacing it every 3-4 months.

Floss! WebMD reports that 31 percent of people don’t floss daily, which means they are skipping an important step in caring for their teeth and gums. Floss helps remove food and plaque that is hiding in between your teeth. It is recommended to use about 18 inches of floss and to hold it tightly between your thumbs and index fingers. Use a clean section of floss as you move from tooth to tooth and make sure you get beneath the gum line as you work. Never force the floss in-between teeth as you can cause damage to your gums.

Chew or Rinse. It may surprise you to hear that chewing gum is actually good for your teeth and gums. “We recommend chewing sugarless gum after meals and snacks because it can help to rinse off and neutralize the acids produced by the bacteria in plaque, which cause dental decay,” said Dr. Dungasi. “There are some situations in which chewing gum is not advised; if you are experiencing pain in your jaw or if you have temporomandibular disorder (TMD).” Mouthwash is also a good addition to your hygiene routine. Bacteria-fighting rinses can help fight gum disease and rinses with fluoride can help prevent tooth decay. Be sure to check with your dentist to see what they recommend for your specific needs.

Visit Your Dentist Regularly. It’s important to schedule regular visits with your dentist – not only for a cleaning and exam, but also to give your dentist the opportunity to look for potential problems including cavities, gum disease, or issues like broken or cracked teeth or loose fillings. Twice-yearly visits with the dentist allow for general upkeep of your mouth, but you should contact your dental team right away if you experience any problems in your mouth, too. These include sensitivity to hot and cold, puffy or bleeding gums, pain or swelling in your mouth, or bad breath. “Like other illnesses, it is important to catch problems in your mouth as early as possible,” said Dr. Dungasi. “Often early detection can help preserve teeth or help you make changes to your routine to keep your smile healthy.”

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