January is a great time to begin (or re-commit to) new healthy habits, and that includes taking steps to maintain your good oral health. Fortunately, there are several ways in which you can contribute to having healthier teeth and gums. What follows are several “best practices” for better oral health:
- Brush and floss – The first item on our list should come as no surprise. The foundation for good oral health is a daily oral hygiene routine, and that routine is built around brushing and flossing. A minimum requirement is brushing twice a day and flossing at least once, but more is better! Just be sure that you don’t brush too vigorously or too often, since you can actually damage the enamel layer of your teeth if you get carried away. And be sure to use a soft-bristled toothbrush. The same holds true for flossing. Doing it more than once a day is a great idea, but don’t damage your gums in the process.
- “Up the ante” on your oral hygiene routine – Brushing and flossing are the foundations of any good oral hygiene routine, but if you want yours to be even more effective, consider making some healthy additions to your daily regimen. Use a water flosser to remove even more food particles than brushing and flossing can do alone. And rinsing with an anti-bacterial mouthwash provides further protection from gum disease. The optimum oral hygiene routine would consist of: 1) brushing, 2) flossing, 3) water flossing, and 4) rinsing with an anti-bacterial mouthwash.
- Add fluoride – Many municipal water systems add fluoride to their water supplies. There’s a good reason for this, since this naturally occurring mineral has been proven to reduce the risk of tooth decay in children and adults. Even if your water has fluoride in it, it’s beneficial to use toothpaste and mouthwash that contain fluoride. Don’t assume they all do – check the label to make sure your product contains fluoride.
- Avoid tobacco products – One of the worst things you can do for your oral health is to smoke or chew tobacco. It increases your risk for developing gum disease and oral cancer, not to mention the fact that it badly stains your teeth and leaves you with perpetually bad breath. If you currently use tobacco, make it a goal to quit as soon as possible. And, of course, if you don’t use tobacco, don’t start!
- Visit your dentist at least twice a year – Most dentists recommend that you visit their office at least twice a year for professional cleanings and oral exams. But if you’re prone to developing gum disease, or if you have some other oral health concern, you might need to schedule appointments more often.
“Best practices” isn’t just a term used in business and manufacturing. You can employ your own set of best practices when it comes to your oral health starting right now. The reward will be teeth and gums for the year to come!