“Take care of your teeth” is some of the most sage advice ever passed down from your elders. Alas, too few of us in the prime of health actually heed that advice, only to wonder in later years why no one ever mentioned that dental pain is so painful. But no matter what age you are, here are some tips and benfits of how to improve your oral hygiene for 2022 and make sure your teeth and gums feel and look good for years to come.
Brush Twice a Day
Dentists recommend brushing to attack tartar and plaque that can leak bacteria through the gums, which heightens the risk of periodontal disease. Moreover, the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) published a study linking the accretion of bacteria associated with periodontal disease to COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and pneumonia. Other evidence has surfaced connecting periodontal disease to heart disease, although more studies are still needed to establish this link.
Floss, Floss, Floss
While it helps to remove tartar and plaque, brushing alone may not be enough to prevent tooth loss and gum disease, which is concerning, since as many as 46% of adults in the U.S. suffer from some gum disease. Flossing, meanwhile, targets the gums—strengthening tissue, scraping out food particles, and ultimately warding off decay, bleeding, and gingivitis.
The American Dental Association divides mouthwash into two categories: cosmetic and therapeutic. While cosmetic mouthwashes temporarily alleviate bad breath, they contain no chemicals that actively work to rid your mouth of bacteria. The ingredients in therapeutic mouthwashes include fluoride and chlorhexidine, chemical agents proven to battle gum and tooth decay, as well as curb gingivitis and plaque. Be sure to round out your trifecta of oral hygiene health by rinsing, to target the areas of the mouth that brushing and flossing don’t get to.
Make Time for It
We’re all busy, and when you’re rushing out the door, grabbing a bite on the go, or cleaning up after the kids and just want to tumble into bed, the last thing you’re thinking of is how to make your teeth whiter and shinier. But make sure you have a brushing-flossing-rinsing regimen and stick to it twice a day. If you have a young child, look to save some time in your busy day by brushing your teeth together. You can save even more time, and the environment, by switching from tubed toothpaste to toothpaste tablets.
Also book an appointment with the dentist twice a year for an expert review of your oral health, since dental problems aren’t always noticeable until they’ve reached an advanced stage. It may sound like a hassle now, but you’ll thank yourself years later.
Treat Yourself Right
Drugs and alcohol affect every part of your body, from your heart to your kidneys to your pituitary glands—and your teeth. Abusing substances can wreck your mouth and reverse all the results that come from brushing, flossing, and rinsing, often with shocking quickness. Methamphetamines, for instance, rot enamel, often causing the cheeks to fall in on gaps in the tooth line. Using ecstasy can develop “bruxism” (tooth-grinding). Cocaine can give you mouth ulcers. The list goes on. Additionally, alcohol, sodas, and cigarettes have as deleterious an effect on your mouth as drugs, so be sure to stick to a diet of fruits and veggies, protein, and healthy fats.
There’s a reason people say the first thing they notice is someone’s smile—it’s a universal sign of happiness, radiance, and well-being. Taking these steps toward improved oral health will stave off future problems with dental pain, so that years later, you can smile as you pass down some of the sagest advice ever passed down: “Take care of your teeth.”
This article was brought to you by Camille Johnson