The basic program for dental hygiene seems like a no-brainer: clean your mouth regularly, and stay away from sugary foods. But is this really enough to prevent cavities and tooth decay? Is there anything else you should be doing to make sure that your mouth stays healthy?
The truth is that just brushing your teeth and skipping desert may not be enough to keep your teeth and gums in pristine condition. Regular dentist appointments are key to good oral health, but there are plenty of other things that you can do in between visits, right at home. Take some of these, for instance:
Up Your Tooth Care Game
Studies show that for most people, “tooth care” just means brushing your teeth. That’s a good start, but to really take care of your teeth, you need a whole routine: brush your teeth at least twice a day, floss, and use mouthwash.
Check Your Toothbrush
While you’re thinking about your tooth care routine, remember to change your toothbrush regularly — every 3 months or so. That’s because bacteria can actually live on your toothbrush. Gross!
Chew Sugarless Gum
Sugar-free gum often uses an artificial sweetener called xylitol that may help prevent the growth of cavity-causing bacteria. Chewing gum also increases the flow of saliva, which naturally helps keep your teeth healthy.
Drink Fluoridated Water
Fluoride helps strengthen teeth and prevent cavities, so many cities add it to their water supply. Drinking plain water is a great sugar-free choice, and the dose of fluoride makes it even better. If you don’t use city water, don’t worry: you can use fluoride toothpastes or rinses instead. You can also talk to a dentist about other options, like fluoride pills.
Treat Dry Mouth
This problem isn’t just annoying — taking away the saliva that naturally protects your teeth can cause decay. Sipping water and chewing gum help, but if you have a regular problem with dry mouth, talk to your dentist. They can help you figure out if there’s an underlying cause (dry mouth is a side effect of many medications, for instance), and what to do about it.
Try Coconut Oil Pulling
This technique might sound a little unusual, but there’s some science to back it up. Take a teaspoon full of (liquid) coconut oil and swish it around in your mouth for 20 minutes. Try to “pull” the oil, forcing it in between your teeth. Oil pulling removes bacteria, can help with dry mouth, a has a host of other benefits.
Change Your Diet
In the end, what you eat really does impact your teeth health. The Mayo Clinic suggests avoiding frequent snacking, since that can encourage the growth of plaque-causing bacteria. Beyond that, we should do what the dentist always ordered: keep away from excessive sugar and sweetened beverages. At the same time, eat plenty of calcium-rich dairy products and other healthy foods.
All of these things are totally doable, right at home, and they can have a major impact on your health. Have you made any of these a part of your dental routine?