Nothing is more attractive than a beautiful, healthy-looking smile — and it all starts with good oral health habits.
Not only do healthy teeth and gums help you feel more confident about your appearance, but good oral health can also reduce your risk of other serious health problems, like cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Maintaining good oral health isn’t difficult. In fact, incorporating a few easy habits is usually all it takes.
Marvin Taylor, DDS, and the team at Dr. Taylor’s Family Dental Center offer these five tips to keep your teeth and gums healthy at every age.
1. Brush the right way
The American Dental Association (ADA) offers these simple guidelines for proper brushing:
- Hold the brush at a 45-degree angle to your gum line
- Brush back and forth in short strokes
- Use a gentle motion (don’t scrub)
- Brush all surfaces — front, back, and chewing surfaces
- Brush for two minutes twice a day, including before bed
- Replace your brush at least every 3-4 months
You can see a graphic illustration of proper brushing techniques at the ADA site.
2. Floss every day
Flossing daily is really important for preventing gum disease, a leading cause of tooth loss among American adults.
But data shows less than a third of Americans follow that guideline, and another third don’t bother to floss at all. That’s kind of surprising, since flossing typically takes less time than brushing — and you only need to do it once a day.
To floss properly:
- Use about 18 inches of floss
- Wrap the ends around your middle fingers
- Pinch the floss between thumb and forefinger
- Insert it gently between your teeth
- Use a “C” shape to gently rub each tooth edge
- Don’t use a sawing motion
- Floss between pairs of teeth and behind back teeth
You can see a graphic illustration of the technique here.
3. Cut out sugary foods
OK, it may be unrealistic to cut out all sugary treats all the time. But everyone can make a goal to at least cut back on how many sugary snacks and drinks they consume.
What’s the big deal about sugar? As it turns out, sugars aren’t just appealing to people. The bacteria that cause cavities thrive on sugars, too.
When you cut back on sugary foods, you also limit the food source for bacteria, preventing them from multiplying and reducing your risk of decay.
4. Drink plenty of water
Your saliva provides a sort of natural rinsing action to help keep bacteria populations in check. But you don’t always produce enough saliva to get the full benefit.
Drinking water throughout the day keeps sugary residues and food particles from sticking to and between your teeth. Plus, it supplements your natural saliva to keep harmful bacteria under control.
5. Don’t skip your professional cleanings
No matter how well you care for your teeth at home, you still need regular professional cleanings — twice a year, for most people — to make sure your teeth and gums get the thorough cleaning they need to prevent both cavities and gum disease.
Professional cleanings use special techniques to gently reach below the gum line, getting rid of plaque and bacteria that you just can’t reach with your toothbrush and floss.
Regular cleanings give Dr. Taylor a chance to evaluate your teeth and gums so he can identify — and treat — potential issues early, before they have a chance to become major (and costly) problems. He’ll also do an oral cancer screening and offer some tips on improving brushing and flossing for better oral health in between office visits.
Play a proactive role in your oral health
Good oral health habits are critical for warding off decay and disease — and for keeping your natural teeth as you get older. If it’s time for your regular checkup, don’t put it off. Call our office in Waterford, Michigan, or book an appointment online today.