Statistics on oral health don’t show a very positive picture. According to the World Dental Federation, almost half of the world’s population (44%) has untreated tooth decay, making it one of the most prevalent chronic conditions.
In the U.S., one in four adults have untreated cavities, and 46% of adults over 30 show signs of gum disease. Both cavities and gum disease lead to tooth loss when left untreated. People often make the mistake of not considering how their daily habits to keep teeth healthy will prevent their loss in the future. What you do at home over the years has a sizable impact on what your mouth will look like down the road.
Taking care of your teeth doesn’t have to be complicated or overly time-consuming. Oral health depends on consistent, correctly-applied oral hygiene and regular visits to the dentist. After all, prevention is the very best medicine. Here are a few of our insider tips for what you can do to keep teeth healthy—both now and in the years to come.
1. Brush your teeth.
Never skip brushing before bed! We recommend brushing two times per day. Bedtime is the most important time of day to brush because it prevents damage from occurring overnight. When pieces of food are allowed to remain on the teeth overnight, the bacteria in your mouth have a feeding frenzy! The acids produced by bacteria as they consume food are destructive to the tooth enamel, creating small holes in the teeth over time.
2. Use a soft toothbrush.
The medium and hard toothbrushes cause unnecessary abrasion to the tooth and can damage your gum tissues. Brushing technique (not the intensity of strokes) is key to achieving the best results. Angle the bristles towards the gum line and use circular strokes on each tooth to remove plaque. The American Dental Association recommends spending two minutes per brushing session. Again, what’s important is not how hard you brush, but how long!
3. Brush your tongue.
Plaque and bacteria play hide and seek in the papilla of your tongue, which can lead to halitosis (bad breath). Even if you’ve been brushing your teeth, additional bacteria can hang around in the mouth because it’s still on the tongue. If you gag when you brush your tongue back and forth, consider brushing side to side.
4. Don’t forget to floss.
Flossing is just as important as brushing! If you have trouble with traditional floss, using the pre-made dental flossers is fine. Just do it! When you floss, you might see tiny bits of yellow or whitish film come off your teeth. That means you are removing plaque, which is made up of bacteria mixed with your saliva. Removing plaque while it is still in this form prevents it from hardening into tartar, which can only be removed safely by a dentist.
5. Use mouthwash.
While it’s not as important as brushing and flossing, mouthwash plays a role in reaching areas the toothbrush and floss can miss. By swishing the mouthwash around, you’ll bring balance and refresh your mouth. If you have issues with dry mouth, use an alcohol-free rinse. If you have cavity concerns, use a rinse that contains fluoride. This will help build your teeth’s resistance to bacteria by boosting mineralization.
Clean teeth are healthy teeth, which is why it’s so important to play your part from the comfort of your own home. Twice a year though, you should schedule an appointment at your dentist’s office. These visits permit an in-depth cleaning of your teeth, reaching areas that you can’t clean with a toothbrush and floss. Any tartar that has formed will be removed, since only a dentist’s professional cleaning instruments can do so safely. Dental x-rays will also be taken because not all cavities can be seen by the naked eye. Should you develop a cavity, we can provide treatments to prevent the cavity from getting worse.
At Penn Dental Family Practice, you’ll enjoy high quality, comprehensive services. Our dentists teach the next generation of dentists at the esteemed University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine. We provide compassionate, evidence-based care to help all our patients achieve their ideal oral health!
Make an appointment here or call 215-898-7337 to get started!