Regardless of your age, proper dental care is key to your overall health. Issues with your mouth, teeth, and gums can have a negative effect on the rest of your body. Without proper brushing and flossing bacteria can build up in your mouth and cause unwanted infections. Let’s look at ways to keep the entire family’s dental care on track.
Start Right Away
Children need to begin caring for their teeth at a very early age. Not only will this create a strong and healthy habit but it can prevent early tooth decay and cavities. Dental care should begin as soon as your baby gets a tooth. In fact, cleaning babies’ gums even before a tooth appears can ensure bacteria does not stick around. When caring for your toothless baby’s grin just use a wet washcloth, no toothpaste is necessary. Once an actual tooth appears you can try using a very soft, infant toothbrush to see how your baby tolerates it. Toothpaste is not recommended until at least 18 months, and then a very mild, low fluoride paste is best. Always follow your dentist’s guidelines.
Floss and Brush Regularly
You know the drill, brush and floss twice a day. Brushing at least twice a day removes the thin layer of bacteria on your teeth called plaque. When plaque builds up it causes cavities. Brushing your gums is also important to stimulate them and keep them healthy. However, be gentle. Your gums are sensitive and delicate. Don’t forget to brush your tongue. Bacteria loves to hang out on your tongue and besides causing bad breath it can affect your oral health. As important as brushing is, it can’t do it all. Brushing cannot remove the debris that is hiding between your teeth, only floss can do that. Flossing is key to keeping your entire mouth healthy.
Use Fluoride Sparingly
Fluoride is used to strengthen the teeth’s enamel to prevent tooth decay, but it should be used in small amounts. Too much fluoride has been known to cause white spots on children’s teeth. Most Americans have fluoride in their tap water and it can also be found in most kinds of toothpaste and mouthwash. Fluoride can also cause sensitivity in some people. If you or your child has issues with fluoride ask your dentist for advice.
See Your Dentist Often
People of all ages should visit the dentist at least every six months, more if you have dental concerns. If money is a concern, research dentists in your area who offer their services at discounted rates for those in need. In Boston, Dr. George Hatzigiannis is known for providing dental care to the underserved communities in his area. He is a well-respected dentist who gives back to his community. If you aren’t located in Boston near Dr. Hatzigiannis, there are numerous dentists across the country who offer similar outreach programs.
Avoid Sugar-laden Treats
Whether you prefer pop or candy, it is wise to limit how much you eat or drink for the benefit of your teeth. Acid erodes teeth enamel and sugars produce acid inside the mouth. The problem is compounded when those sugary treats are sucked for extended periods of time because the sugar and acid surround the teeth and sit there doing damage. You may be surprised to hear that chewing sugar-free gum after eating and drinking can actually help your oral health. Chewing sugar-free gum increases saliva and that saliva helps to rinse away harmful bacteria.
Protect Your Teeth
Your teeth are at risk regardless of the sport you play. From hockey to soccer to basketball to swimming, no sport is completely accident-free. You can avoid injuring your pearly whites by wearing proper protection. Mouthguards can be purchased at most sporting goods stores and can be boiled and sculpted to fit your mouth. In addition to mouth guards, helmets are a great way to protect your teeth and your entire head. Not all helmets are created equal though, if your helmet doesn’t provide any mouth protection you’ll still need a mouth guard.
Avoid Harmful Substances
The dangers of tobacco use are well known, but you may not think about your oral health as an additional casualty when it comes to tobacco use. Smoking and using tobacco can cause numerous problems in your mouth from bad breath and yellow teeth to more serious issues, such as oral cancer and bone loss. Despite these potential problems, tobacco use remains one of the world’s greatest health problems. The best way to avoid dealing with tobacco side effects is to never start smoking or chewing in the first place.
Your entire family can benefit from good oral hygiene habits. These lifelong skills will keep them on the road to wellness and help them avoid the pitfalls that come with diseases and conditions of the mouth. If you can devote just two minutes morning and night to your mouth you will enjoy years to come of strong teeth and healthy gums.