Many of our goals this time of year has to do with being healthy, and a major factor of your health is oral hygiene.
While brushing your teeth every day is great, experts say flossing is just as important. Unfortunately, toothbrush bristles alone are unable to effectively clean tight spaces in between your teeth. When left uncared for, these areas can develop plaque that is harmful to your gums and teeth. Interdental cleaning should be done at least once per day, at any time of your choosing. The most important factor in flossing isn’t necessarily when it is done during the day, rather how. Next time you’re with a dentist, talk to them about proper flossing techniques and recommendations on the best-suited products for you.
Similar to flossing, mouthwash can help clean the hard-to-reach areas in your mouth. There are two types of mouthwashes – cosmetic and therapeutic – with key distinctions between them. Cosmetic options temporarily relieve bad breath but do not aid in preventing cavities or gum disease. Therapeutic options, however, do contain bacteria-killing ingredients like fluoride. Both options are available over the counter, so be sure to select products that are ADA-approved and fit your dental health needs. Mouthwash should not be used by children younger than 6 years due to the risk of swallowing, which can cause nausea and vomiting.
Another way to keep your teeth healthy is by drinking water. Tap water, specifically, contains optimal amounts of fluoride, which has been proven to strengthen teeth and reduce tooth decay in children and adults by 25%, helping to solidify enamel affected by bacteria and acid. Unfortunately, fluoride levels in bottled waters can vary greatly and be difficult to determine. Regardless of where you get your water, staying hydrated is an important part of good oral health to prevent dry mouth, bad breath, and cavities.
However, if you’re not choosing nutritious foods as part of your everyday diet, you’re missing out on countless physical and oral health benefits. It’s essential to eat a well-rounded diet while limiting foods with added sugar that contribute to tooth decay. Eating appropriate amounts of whole grains, lean proteins, low-fat dairy, fruits, and vegetables not only positively impacts your mouth, but your total physical and mental health, as well. When your diet excludes nutrient-rich choices, gum tissues can weaken, becoming less likely to fight off infection and may even lead to periodontal disease (a major cause of tooth loss for adults). To learn more about which foods are best for you and how to plan healthy meals, visit ChooseMyPlate.gov.