Forming good dental habits is essential to maintain the health of your teeth and gums as you grow older. Preventing bacteria buildup and tooth decay can minimize the risk of developing cavities and other serious mouth and gum-related issues. If you are determined to take care of your teeth, there are many different ways to go about forming good dental habits that are sure to come in handy for years to come. From regularly brushing your teeth to talking to your family dental practice about your child’s dental habits, here are some techniques you can begin!
1. Brush Your Teeth Regularly
Brushing your teeth at least twice a day is recommended for individuals of all ages, whether you are a child or an adult. Brushing after each meal is ideal, as this is the time when food is most likely to get stuck between your teeth and in your gums. When brushing your teeth, be sure to do so for at least two minutes at a time. Brushing for at least two minutes provides adequate time to move the brush around all areas of your mouth, reaching all teeth, your tongue, and your gums. While it’s advisable to brush your teeth at least twice a day, it is optimal to brush after each meal or snack time, whenever possible.
2. Replace Your Toothbrush Consistently
Buying a new toothbrush and replacing your existing one each 3 to 6 months is recommended, according to FamilyDoctor.org. Any toothbrush you are using should be replaced once the bristles become visibly worn down or spread apart. Keeping a new toothbrush around is also a way to ensure you can reach difficult areas inside of the mouth without the bristles breaking down.
3. Floss Each Day
As with brushing your teeth, it is equally, if not more important to floss regularly. Flossing your teeth after each meal or at least twice a day is recommended by most dentists. Flossing helps eliminate bacteria, food buildup, and plaque from building up between your teeth. Flossing regularly is also a way to help eliminate bad breath, especially as bacteria is often the leading cause and trigger for bad breath (if bad breath does not stem from the tongue itself.)
4. Ask Your Dentist About Toothbrush Preferences
When visiting your dentist, inquire about toothbrush preferences and what softness or hardness is ideal for your teeth. Not all toothbrushes are created equally, which is why it’s important to familiarize yourself with your options ahead of time. While some individuals may be better off with a softer toothbrush, others may benefit from a harder toothbrush, depending on the makeup of their teeth and any sensitivities or issues they may have with their mouth, teeth, and gums.
5. Use Toothpaste With Fluoride
If you are serious about reducing the risk of developing cavities in your mouth, consider changing to a fluoride-based toothpaste. Fluoride toothpaste is ideal for help in preventing tooth decay over time.
6. Use Mouthwash After Brushing and Flossing
Anytime you brush and floss your teeth, it’s highly advisable to use a mouthwash. Using a mouthwash after you brush and floss can help to kill any remaining bacteria that can be found in your mouth. After flossing and brushing, your mouth is more likely to be filled with bacteria from old and digested foods. Using mouthwash helps to kill remaining germs while simultaneously providing peace of mind.
7. Consume a Low-Sugar Diet
Sugars are starches that are primarily the root cause of dental cavities and overall tooth decay. If you want to minimize or eliminate the risk of developing cavities in your mouth, you can do so by eating a low-sugar diet. Eliminate sugary drinks and foods that are packed with sugars and starches from your everyday diet. Skip eating foods that are high in processed refined sugars and carbohydrates. Instead, opt for healthier food such as lean meats, vegetables, and nuts.
8. Visit Your Dentist Regularly
One of the most important aspects of healthy gums and teeth involves visiting a dentist regularly. It is recommended to schedule a regular screening and dental checkup once every six months, even if you do not believe you have any cavities or other issues that need to be addressed. Visiting your dentist regularly for a cleaning and X-rays can help you to keep a close eye on the overall health of your teeth and gums. Additionally, you can also learn how to take preventative measures for any potential tooth, jaw, or gum issues that your dentist may spot early on. The more frequently you schedule your dental appointments, the less likely you are to encounter serious or potentially life-threatening issues involving your teeth.
9. Limit Alcohol Intake
Even if you have already committed to eating a healthier diet that is limited when it comes to sugars, alcohol can also play a major role in tooth decay. Alcohol is often packed with sugars or is converted to sugar once consumed. Depending on the type of alcohol you are consuming, you are running the risk of significantly increasing and expediting tooth decay. Many malt and mixed alcoholic drinks include sugary ingredients and syrups. Consider the specific alcohol you are consuming to determine the amount of sugar and carbohydrates your body is also processing. The more carbohydrates and sugars that an alcoholic beverage contains, the harsher the drink will be on your teeth and surrounding gums.
10. Stop Using Tobacco Products
Tobacco is a major cause of tooth decay and bacterial buildup. Additionally, smoking also contributes to tooth decay and yellowing over time. If you are a smoker, committing to quit can go a long way. Stop smoking and consuming any tobacco-based products to maintain your oral health. Those who smoke or chew tobacco have a significantly greater risk of developing cancers, including throat and jaw cancer along with lung cancer. Additionally, smoking products contribute to the decay and yellowing of teeth.
11. Use a Soft-Bristled Toothbrush for Sensitive Teeth
If you are someone who has sensitive teeth or worn-down enamel, your dentist is likely to recommend using a soft-bristled toothbrush. A soft-bristled toothbrush is highly recommended to prevent additional unnecessary wear and tear on your teeth. Soft-bristled toothbrushes are especially recommended for those with weak teeth or other oral conditions that weaken or soften their teeth.
12. Do Not Open Objects With Your Teeth
Tearing packages, opening bottles, or attempting to turn a knob with your teeth is never recommended. Regardless of the strength and durability of your teeth, you should never use your teeth for any other action besides eating and consuming foods. When you attempt to use your teeth to open bottles or even tear open packages, you run the risk of breaking or misplacing your teeth. You also run the risk of causing irreversible damage to your teeth if you are not careful.
13. Consider Dental Sealants
One option to consider if you have molars in place or if you have other tooth replacements in your mouth is a dental sealant. Dental sealants are ideal to protect your teeth from additional damage and tooth decay. Dental sealants are not a solution for everyone, but they can be ideal for those who do not want to seek tooth removal or replacement. Speak directly to your dentist to determine if dental sealants are a suitable solution for your needs.
14. Learn How to Brush Properly
While it is also known that to maximize the benefits of tooth brushing, you should do so at least twice a day for two minutes at a time. However, it’s also equally as important to learn how to brush your teeth properly. It’s recommended to brush your teeth using a circular motion rather than brushing your teeth up and down. This will allow the toothbrush to pick up and remove any food and debris that may be building up on the surface of your teeth.
15. Wear Protective Mouthgear During Sports
Whether you’re into competitive sports or if you work out and wrestle with others, wearing protective mouth gear is essential to develop good dental habits. While wearing protective mouth gear does not prevent bacteria or food from getting caught between your teeth, it does protect your teeth from potentially permanent damage and/or loss. Those who play contact sports need to especially take this seriously, as they have the greatest risk of injury when on the field.
16. Brush After Consuming Sticky Foods or Candy
While you might already know that it’s better to brush your teeth after each meal, it’s especially important to do so anytime you consume candy or another type of stick food. Sticky foods often include a form of sugar or corn syrup, which can expedite the decaying process once it is inside your mouth. Allowing candies and sticky food to sit on top of your teeth or toward the back of your mouth can be extremely detrimental. Whenever you consume candy, even if you are only eating one, remain cognizant of your dental health and brush and floss if possible.
17. Eat Foods Rich in Vitamin D and Calcium
If your vitamin D levels are low or you do not consume calcium regularly, you run the risk of weaker bones over time, especially as you age. If you want to help improve the overall health and strength of your bones, you can do so by consuming a diet that is rich in calcium and vitamin D. Fish such as sardines, tuna, and salmon are high in vitamin D and calcium. Additional foods that are beneficial for those seeking both calcium-enriched foods, as well as foods high in vitamin D, include eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt, and spinach. Stick to leafy greens, dairy products, and meats instead of turning to processed foods that are packed with preservatives, sugars, and starches.
18. Choose a Sugar-Free Candy or Gum
If you enjoy chewing gum or eating candies throughout the day to help pass the time, do so with sugar-free alternatives. Sugar-free gum will not contribute to the decay of your teeth while also providing you with a sense of satisfaction from chewing and tasting something that resembles sugar and sweetness. Always be sure to read and interpret nutritional labels properly to ensure that you are purchasing gums and candies that are, in fact, sugar-free. You should also familiarize yourself with sugar-free alternative ingredients to determine which sugar substitute is best for you. Not all sugar substitutes are created equally. Some may contribute to digestive or glucose responses. Anytime you are replacing refined white sugar with a substitute, it is important to know which substitute is right for you and your body’s needs.
19. Use a Water Flosser
Whether you are not fond of flossing your teeth with traditional floss or if you are seeking an alternative method of flossing, consider using a water flosser. A water flosser is an electronic flossing gadget that often resembles a typical toothbrush in size and shape. However, water flossers are automatic and electronic. With a water flosser, use the power of water pressure to help clean in between your teeth. Many turn to using a water flosser for the clean feeling they experience.
20. Practice With Your Family
One way to keep up with your dental habits is to practice them in front of others in your home. Whether you do so in front of your significant other or in front of your children, practicing good dental habits in front of others may encourage you to continue with your routine. Demonstrating your good dental habits in front of your children will also instill the same habits and responses from your children as they learn to take care of their own teeth.
21. Speak to Your Dentist About Issues You Experience
Speaking to your family dental practice on a regular basis is essential, especially if you are experiencing issues with your teeth, gums, or overall oral health. When you have a family dental practice that you can turn to and rely on, you can speak to them directly about specific issues you are experiencing. The right family dental practice will provide you with the proper treatments and guidance to ensure you can take care of your teeth and oral health at all times. The more your dentist knows about your needs and your teeth, the easier it will be for them to provide you with a solution that works for all.
Knowing how to form good dental habits is key to protecting your teeth and gum health for decades to come. When you take care of your teeth regularly, you are less likely to experience long-term issues, tooth decay, or the need to remove teeth later on in life.
Are you looking to form good dental habits by caring for your teeth and gums properly? Learn more about how we can help by visiting our website today or contacting Smilez Pediatric Dental Group.