Avoiding cavities and other dental health issues that cause tooth decay is a job that never stops. Yes, it starts in the morning with your toothbrushing habits, but if you really want optimal mouth health, the work continues from the time you wake up until you go to sleep.
Tooth decay happens when the bacteria and other microorganisms in your mouth are allowed to run rampant. Since this area is moist and dark, if you’re not on top of the problem all day, those bacteria will reproduce and thrive. Because it’s such a common problem, almost 9 out of 10 adults have tooth decay (officially called dental caries).
Whether you’re already one of those nine and you want to prevent more damage, or you’re trying to keep being that last holdout without cavities, these tips for maximum mouth health habits will help you reach your goal.
1. Master the Art of Toothbrushing
We’re taught very early that we need to brush our teeth. But most of us aren’t taught the art of toothbrushing.
It’s so much more than scrubbing some toothpaste around your mouth, swishing, and spitting. The goal of brushing is to get rid of as much debris and bacteria as possible, and that takes a strategic method to do thoroughly.
First, you’ll need to schedule two minutes, twice a day, to brush. This is commonly done first thing in the morning and before bed, and those two times of the day are purposeful.
As soon as you wake up, you want to get rid of any bacteria that built up while you slept to keep them from doing more damage. And before you go to sleep, brushing gets rid of any food particles and other buildup from eating and drinking all day.
Using a soft-bristled toothbrush (unless your dentist suggests otherwise), hold the brush at a 45-degree angle. Brush in circular motions across all of the enamel. Finish with a soft scrub of the tongue, rinse with water, and spit. Follow up with mouthwash if you prefer.
This technique should effectively get rid of most of the cavity-causing microorganisms that infect your teeth.
2. Stay Hydrated With Water
Are you Team Water or Team Water is Gross? The fact is that it doesn’t matter whether you enjoy drinking straight water or not — if you want good oral health, you need to drink it.
When your mouth is dry, you’re more likely to develop tooth decay and halitosis (bad breath). Sure, you can stay hydrated with other beverages, but they don’t do the same thing for your mouth health. Only water flushes the bacteria and debris down your system. Any other beverage leaves behind additives, like sugar, acids, and alcohol.
If you want to ensure you’re doing your best to prevent tooth decay, add water to your beverage consumption list throughout the day.
3. Switch Out Your Toothbrush Regularly
Before you add toothpaste to your toothbrush, you probably rinse it under running water. That’s good, but it doesn’t get rid of all the bacteria that’s building up on the brush. Unless you’re always sterilizing your toothbrush after use, it has bacteria on it.
For that reason, and because the bristles wear down and don’t clean the enamel as well, you should switch out your toothbrush every two or three months.
4. Floss Daily
Some dental offices have signs that read, “You don’t have to floss all your teeth; just the ones you want to keep!” This little ditty is a good way to remember the importance of flossing daily.
Brushing gets rid of a good portion of the food and debris in your mouth, but it can’t always reach food stuck between teeth and under the gums. When that food stays stuck, it releases acids that cause tooth decay and gum sensitivity.
Floss when you brush at least once a day to get rid of those pesky particles that your toothbrush can’t reach.
5. Mind Your Diet
Caring for your teeth and gums twice a day helps, but what you’re eating matters, too. Try to avoid sugary and sticky foods. If you do eat them, brush them as soon as possible to limit the damage the ingredients can do to your teeth.
If you must snack, indulge in raw fruits and veggies like apples, carrots, and celery. These have limited additives and natural sugar and increase your saliva production, washing away debris without water.
6. Monitor Your Bruxism
Bruxing is a major cause of tooth decay. This condition occurs when you clench your jaw and grind your teeth unconsciously, usually at night. The damage to the enamel caused by these actions is destructive, wearing away at the outer layers and exposing the sensitive inner dentin, pulp, and nerves.
Optimizing your mouth health habits involves taking care of any grinding and clenching problems. Using a custom-made, professional-grade occlusal guard, like those you can get from JS Dental Lab, eliminates the damage to your enamel from bruxism and alleviates other bruxing side effects.
These mouth health habits, when combined with regular visits to your dentist, will help you prevent tooth decay and other dental damage. Schedule those regular checkups and professional cleanings twice a year, and optimize your oral health routine until it becomes a lifestyle designed for effective enamel care.