Why is it so important to keep your teeth and gums healthy? Well, for starters, having a beautiful smile gives you confidence and smiling is a way to connect with others. From a health perspective, your teeth are essential for chewing and getting all the nutrients your body needs. Additionally, gum disease has been tied to a host of other conditions, including heart disease, diabetes and stroke. Having a healthy smile really does impact so many areas of your life, which is why as a Papillion orthodontist, Dr. Hawley is dedicated to ensuring his patients have the healthiest (and most stunning!) smiles around. To help, we’re sharing some of our best tips for healthy teeth and gums.
Visit Your Dentist Regularly for Check-Ups and Cleanings
It’s so important to see your dentist on a regular basis for check-ups and cleanings in order to maintain your oral health. Professional cleanings can remove hardened plaque that you can’t get rid of with a standard toothbrush and floss at home. Additionally, with regular exams, your dentist can spot signs of problems, such as gingivitis, interactions with medications, tooth decay, wear and tear of the enamel and even oral cancer, early while treatment is easier and less invasive.
Brush Your Teeth Twice a Day for Two Full Minutes
One of the most essential things to do for healthy teeth and gums is to brush your teeth at least twice a day, once in the morning and once at night, for two full minutes, using good toothbrushing technique, a fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush. If you’re in orthodontic treatment, you’ll also want to brush after meals and snacks. Be sure to get all of the surfaces of your teeth and give each tooth some individual attention. Finish up by brushing your tongue too. Change your toothbrush every three to four months or earlier if the bristles are frayed or worn.
Floss Once Daily
Flossing every day is a small sacrifice to make for a lifetime of oral health. If you don’t floss, you miss a significant percentage of your tooth surfaces and the plaque build up will eventually lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Floss once a day, preferably at night to get rid of any food and plaque that’s become lodged between your teeth throughout the day. If you have braces, using an orthodontic flosser or floss threader will make the job much easier. While a Waterpik isn’t a substitute for regular flossing, it can be an amazing addition to your flossing routine and give you that extra squeaky clean feeling. Once you get the hang of how to use a Waterpik, you probably won’t go back to life without one. It can also safely be used with braces.
Fluoride is Your Friend
Fluoride isn’t just for the kiddos. The mineral strengthens your enamel and helps keep cavities at bay. If you are susceptible to cavities, in addition to using a fluoride toothpaste, you may o want to consider adding a fluoride mouthwash to the mix as well. You can also talk to your dentist about in-office fluoride treatments if you think you need them.
Schedule an Appointment With an Orthodontist
When it comes to tips for healthy teeth and gums it can be easy to think solely in terms of oral hygiene. However, orthodontic treatment can play a big role in your oral health and overall health. Crooked teeth are harder to clean, which puts you at risk for tooth decay and gum disease. Additionally, when the teeth or jaws are misaligned, you can have difficulty chewing and speaking properly, experience uneven wear of teeth, have jaw pain and more. An orthodontist like Dr. Hawley will take diagnostic records and examine you. If they do diagnose an issue, they can then create a personalized treatment plan to correct it.
Eat a Balanced Diet and Limit Sweets and Sugary Drinks
Diet and dental health are closely related. A well rounded, balanced diet that includes whole foods like fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, low-fat dairy products, grains and lean protein promotes healthy teeth and gums. If you eat from all of the food groups and try to stay away from overly processed, sugary and starchy foods, it can go a long way in boosting your oral health. However, you can also include some healthy food for teeth that have specific smile benefits, such as yogurt, which has calcium to strengthen teeth and probiotics to encourage good bacteria, and raw carrots, that not only have nutrients but also scrape away plaque and stimulate saliva as you eat them. In addition to eating healthy, enjoy sweets in moderation and try to kick the sugary drink habit if you have one. The bacteria in the mouth feed on sugars and starches and release acids that eat away at the tooth’s enamel and cause decay. Soft drinks and sports drinks are often acidic as well, which makes them twice as bad. The acidity weakens enamel making it even more susceptible to the damage caused by plaque acids.
Keep the Saliva Flowing
Saliva is a superhero for your teeth and gums. It washes away food debris and plaque and the minerals found in saliva neutralize the acids and bacteria to reduce your risk of tooth decay. This is why dry mouth can lead to cavities and gum disease. To keep the saliva flowing, drink plenty of water and consider chewing sugar-free gum after meals.
By following these tips for healthy teeth and gums, you’ll create a great foundation for oral health. If a visit to an orthodontist is something you’re ready to check off the list, schedule a complimentary consultation at Hawley Orthodontics today by giving us a call at (402) 592-3200.