Your mouth is home to millions of bacteria, some harmful to your oral health. Experts like Dr. Kami Hoss in San Diego, CA, understand that one of the best ways to reduce the risk of cavities, gum disease, and other dental problems is to practice good oral hygiene. This means brushing your teeth twice daily, flossing daily, and using mouthwash. Seeing your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and checkups is also essential.
Brush Your Teeth Twice a Day
Brushing your teeth is one of the simplest and most effective ways to improve oral health. Ideally, you should brush your teeth after every meal or at least twice a day. Be sure to use a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste; avoid touching too hard, as this can damage your gums.
Dr. Kami Hoss says your toothbrush should reach the back of your mouth, and you should spend at least two minutes brushing. Be sure to brush on the inside surfaces of your teeth and use a circular motion. You can also use an electric toothbrush, which can be more effective than a manual toothbrush.
Flossing removes plaque and food particles that brushing alone can’t reach. Be sure to floss at least once a day, preferably at night before bedtime. If you’re having trouble getting all your teeth with traditional floss, try using an interdental brush or water flosser.
Use about 18 inches to floss effectively and wind it around your middle fingers. Gently insert the floss between your teeth, using a back-and-forth motion. Be sure to go all the way to the gum line and use a clean section of floss for each tooth.
Mouthwash helps kill bacteria and freshens breath. Look for a mouthwash that contains fluoride; this will help prevent cavities. Swish the mouthwash around in your mouth for 30 seconds before spitting it out.
The mouthwash should reach all areas of your mouth, including the back of your throat. Avoid swallowing the mouthwash, as this can cause nausea.
See Your Dentist Regularly
Dr. Kami Hoss says you should see your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and checkups and practice good oral hygiene at home. Most dentists recommend you visit every six months, although you may need to see more often if you have dental problems.
During a professional cleaning, your dentist or hygienist will remove plaque and tartar from your teeth. They will also polish your teeth and check for signs of tooth decay or gum disease.
At your checkup, your dentist will examine your teeth and gums for any problems. They will also take X-rays to check for cavities or other issues.
If you have a history of dental problems, your dentist may recommend more frequent visits.
Smoking is one of the worst things you can do for oral health; it increases your risk of gum disease, tooth decay, and oral cancer. If you smoke cigarettes or use tobacco products, quitting is one of the best things you can do for your dental health—not to mention your overall health! Many resources are available to help you quit smoking, so talk to your doctor or dentist if you need assistance kicking the habit.
One way to stop smoking is to use nicotine gum or patches, which can help you deal with withdrawal symptoms. You can also try prescription medications, such as bupropion or varenicline.
If you’re struggling to quit smoking, talk to your doctor or dentist; they can provide you with resources and support to help you kick the habit for good.
Eating a Healthy Diet
What you eat has a direct impact on your oral health. A diet high in sugar can lead to tooth decay, while a diet high in acid can wear away at your tooth enamel. Eating a balanced diet and avoiding sugary and acidic foods will help keep your teeth healthy.
Dr. Kami Hoss says you should also avoid snacks and drinks high in sugar in addition to eating a healthy diet. These can cause tooth decay and should be limited.
Some of the best foods for your teeth include:
Cheese contains calcium, which is good for your teeth. It also helps neutralize the acid in your mouth, damaging your tooth enamel.
Nuts are a good source of vitamin E, vital for healthy gums. They also contain minerals that can help keep your teeth strong.
Leafy greens are high in calcium and other nutrients that are good for your teeth. They also help neutralize the acid in your mouth.
Fish is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids essential for healthy gums.
Water is essential for oral health; it helps rinse food and plaque from your teeth. Drinking fluoride water is best, as this can help prevent cavities.
You should also avoid sugary and acidic foods and drinks, as these can damage your teeth. Avoiding foods and beverages include candy, cookies, cake, soda, and fruit juice.
Keeping your teeth healthy requires a commitment to good oral hygiene. Be sure to brush, floss regularly, and see your dentist for regular checkups. You should also eat a healthy diet and avoid sugary and acidic foods. Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your dental health. If you have a history of dental problems, your dentist may recommend more frequent visits.