If you have ever experienced toothache or other dental problems, then you’ll surely agree with us that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It’s often really simple to help prevent nasty and painful dental problems, but many of us simply claim that we don’t have time or consciously skip on brushing or flossing because we’re feeling lazy. Then we regret it, but it’s too late by then. We don’t want this to happen to you, so we’ve compiled a handy list of simple things you can do to ensure your teeth stay prim and proper for a long, long time.
Brush your teeth – but do it the right way
You already know the usual rules – brush twice a day and for at least two minutes, but it’s not all about that. There is also the issue of how you brush that’s very important. Don’t fret, these rules are simple but help a lot.
First, use smaller strokes and be gentle. Focus on the part nearest to the gingiva and then make your way to the surface. Take special care with hard to reach surfaces, such as molars and wisdom teeth. Don’t forget to brush your tongue, as the tongue is usually where the bad smells come from.
When brushing, tilt your brush at about 45 degrees to your gums and use either small or circular strokes. Don’t forget about the inner surfaces, too. Use up and down motion for those. Perhaps a smaller brush would be helpful here. The biting surfaces should be cleaned as well.
Use a toothpaste with fluoride
Fluoride is really good for your teeth – it helps to prevent tooth decay by making the tooth more resilient against acids that erode the enamel – it aids in remineralization, in other words. That is why most of the toothpastes are fluoridated. Small amounts of sodium fluoride are usually added and these amounts are often enough to keep your teeth in good shape with regular brushing. Still, some do not and take care to purchase and buy those that do, especially if you live in an area where public drinking water is non fluoridated. Take care though
While brushing is an absolutely necessary way to keep your teeth healthy, it is not all-powerful. Bristles on your toothbrush cannot clean the plaque from all the nooks and crannies in your mouth; dental floss if necessary. It goes between your teeth and reaches most of the parts your toothbrush cannot. This is why dental health experts recommend flossing, especially after brushing to help fluoride from the toothpaste to reach the teeth. Interdental brushes are also available as a more convenient alternative along with floss picks.
This is definitely the most difficult tip to apply, and perhaps too obvious – but the magnitude of damage tobacco smoking does to your teeth necessitates the inclusion of this in our list. Smoking causes a variety of problems – of which bad breath is the most benign one. Smokers’ teeth often turn yellow and discoloured and they are at increased risk from developing gum disease. This is because smoke impairs the ability of oral tissue to adhere to the surface of teeth. Of course, there is also an increased risk of oral cancer, along with lung and other problems. Dental procedures also tend to fail more often when done on smokers as opposed to non-smokers and take a longer time to heal. We recognize smoking is an extremely difficult habit to kick, but if you cut down on the number of cigarettes smoked even a little bit, you’ve done a lot. Don’t give up!
Cut down on sodas
A small amount of these drinks won’t hurt you, but dinking sodas all the time is definitely not a good habit to have – not only for your teeth, but for your waistline as well. The sugars in these drinks are responsible for both of these things in forms of cavities and accelerated fat accumulation. But, there is more to the story. Even if you drink sugar-free, you’re unfortunately not off the hook. Soft drinks are often acidic, which breaks down the enamel (the protective layer) and the sugars help bacteria grow. This is a dangerous double whammy and should be avoided. Color of these beverages can also stain your teeth and cause them to look yellow and unhealthy.
Reduce alcohol consumption
Similar to our previous tip, alcoholic drinks are not that good either. Spirits are also somewhat harmful as they, too, can be acidic and cause your mouth to dry out. Saliva has numerous important functions, including normalizing the pH in your teeth to help protect the enamel. Beer drinkers also beware – even though you may not feel it, beer is also acidic and can do the same damage as sodas. Not to mention the more dangerous effects of long-term alcohol abuse which cause great damage to teeth, gums and throat. Of course, we don’t want to create panic. Drinking in moderation and observing our first two tips will all but ensure nothing bad happens to your teeth. Plus, it has been proven red wine has tangible benefits on our cardiovascular health and it sometimes truly does help to unwind with a glass of good whiskey.
Don’t chew ice
Even if it’s summer and you’re terribly hot, we’d advise you to kick this habit. It can cause your teeth to break and chip, as well as be very painful. Your teeth may become more sensitive to hot and cold drinks. If you find you often have the urge to chew on large amounts of ice, you might be suffering from iron deficiency. Generally, people stop craving ice when this underlying condition is treated. If you absolutely adore ice, try with slushy ice, that is, ice that has been broken up in smaller pieces. There’ll be less of a chance to cause permanent damage to your teeth that way.
Replace your toothbrush
The American Dental Association recommends that you replace your toothbrush about every three to four months. This is generally the time when the bristles start to fray, and should be done sooner with softer or lower quality toothbrushes, as these will fail sooner. Worn-out toothbrushes cannot clean as effectively and stray bristles can irritate the gum tissue. You should also change your toothbrush after you’ve had a sore throat, a cold or any other such illness, as these viruses and bacteria can thrive in the moist surfaces of the brush and may result in reinfection. For the same reason, avoid sharing your toothbrush with others and, if possible, store it away from other toothbrushes. It is best to let the brush dry instead of putting it in a plastic case right away.
Take enough calcium and vitamin D
While it has been known for a while that calcium and vitamin D are important in preventing loss of bone density in hips and arms, we now know that it’s the case for teeth, too. People with enough calcium and vitamin D experience less tooth loss and other dental problems. The best way to ingest calcium is by consuming foods naturally rich in this mineral, such as dairy, fish and leafy greens. Vitamin D is best obtained by sitting in the sun for a while – the body can synthesise its own. Other vitamins and minerals are also important for your dental health – if you have ever seen some (gruesome) pictures of people suffering from scurvy (vitamin C deficiency), you’ll know what we’re talking about.
Visit your dentist regularly
Even if you abide by all these tips, you should visit your dentist at least once a year if you have no dental problems. Just as with regular body checkups, your teeth need some love, too. You might not spot a cavity early on, but your dentist can, and it can be dealt with faster and without pain if it’s spotted on time. Same goes for other problems, and it can save you a lot of headache or even money. Your dentist will also give your teeth a good cleaning. If you suffer from underlying dental problems, then it is best you visit your dentist more often. The frequency of your visits depends on the issues and it’s best to ask your dentist if you’re unsure.
We hope these tips will help you keep your teeth healthy and help you feel more confident you’re doing the right thing. By thoroughly taking care of your teeth, you’re saving yourself a lot of pain, headache and financial costs in the future, and it truly doesn’t take more than a few minutes a day. We feel it’s a good tradeoff, especially since the teeth are so important to us. Sadly, most of us don’t realise what we have until it’s gone, and we’ve seen a lot of cases where people lost their teeth, but could have easily prevented it. Don’t become one of them!