Oral Health: The Ultimate Oral Care Guide
Establish an oral hygiene routine for a healthier body.
We’re all taught from an early age that oral hygiene is important; after all, our teeth help us eat, speak, and express our emotions, so we rely on them constantly. As we learn more about the interconnectedness of our bodies, scientists are even discovering that your oral health impacts your overall health—for better or for worse. As a result, ensuring your teeth and gums are healthy will help them continue doing their jobs for your entire life, but it will also keep you healthier for longer. There’s a lot more to taking care of your oral health than simply brushing your teeth, however, so we’ve put together a guide to help you discover the habits that can help you live a longer, healthier life.
Establish a solid at-home oral hygiene routine.
Regular at-home care is a massive part of keeping your teeth and gums healthy. While most people know they should brush their teeth at least twice a day, we get a lot of questions about the rest of at-home care, such as “How many times do you floss a day?” An ideal oral hygiene routine involves brushing your teeth for two minutes twice a day, flossing at least once a day, and using mouthwash at least once a day. This prevents plaque from hardening into tartar on your teeth. Flossing is particularly important for preventing gum disease; if you don’t floss, you’re simply not cleaning the sides of your teeth or removing bacteria from your gumline. Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in America and is often completely painless until it’s severe. As a result, ensuring you’re following a solid oral hygiene routine at home is an essential part of preventing oral health issues.
Brush your teeth the right way.
While brushing your teeth sounds simple and straightforward—and is, for the most part—there is a right and wrong way to go about it. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and don’t scrub too hard when you brush your teeth. While scrubbing does help get the grime off of your kitchen counters, it will damage your enamel and gum tissue over time. You can actually wind up with enamel erosion or receding gums from brushing your teeth too hard. In addition, brushing your teeth too often can also cause this issue, so try to regularly brush your teeth two or three times a day. Enamel erosion and gum recession both cause tooth sensitivity and can make your teeth more vulnerable to decay. Additionally, you should brush your teeth with fluoridated toothpaste since fluoride is proven to help fight decay and remineralize damaged enamel. This makes it incredibly effective at helping you fight cavities.
Eat a healthy diet.
The food you eat fuels your body and provides it with vitamins and minerals that help keep you, including your teeth and gums, healthy. A balanced diet is best for your overall and oral health and should include healthy portions of lean protein, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and dairy. Limiting sugary or carbohydrate-rich snacks and drinking water between meals can also do wonders for your oral health since the sugars in these foods fuel the cavity-causing bacteria in your mouth. In fact, crunchy vegetables, like celery and carrots, can actually help scrape bacteria off your teeth while you chew and will give you a better midday boost of energy than less healthy snacks.
Visit your dentist regularly.
You should schedule a regular appointment with Dr. Sexton every six months. While this may be a little difficult to fit into your busy schedule, it’s more than worth it in the long run. During your regular appointment, Dr. Sexton will clean your teeth thoroughly to remove the buildup of plaque and tartar on your teeth. Tartar is hardened plaque that has bonded to your tooth enamel, so you can’t remove it at home—only a dentist can clean it from your teeth. A thorough professional dental cleaning helps prevent oral health issues from arising in the first place. If you do end up with a cavity or gum disease, seeing Dr. Sexton regularly ensures he’s able to catch the issue early while it’s still small and doesn’t require major treatment. Additionally, he’ll perform regular oral cancer screenings because catching oral cancer early is vital to increasing your chances of survival. In the long run, making time for a regular visit to the dentist will save you from the pain, expense, and added time of receiving treatment for major oral health issues.
Stay on top of recommended care.
When Dr. Sexton does find an oral health issue, it’s wise to follow his treatment recommendations right away. Putting off treatment will only allow the issue to worsen over time. A simple cavity that needs a filling can worsen until it needs a root canal, while severe decay that needs a root canal can develop an abscess or infection. If you’re worried about fitting the treatment into your schedule or your budget, our office will work with you to find a solution. We’ll do our best to find an appointment time that works with your schedule and can provide estimates for how much of your treatment your insurance is likely to pay. Additionally, we accept both CareCredit and Citi Health Card, both of which allow you to make monthly payments that fit your budget on a six-, 12-, or 18-month payment plan with no interest. We will work hard to ensure you’re always able to afford the care you need.
Taking great care of your oral health, in large part, boils down to prevention. This includes tips we’ve already mentioned, like staying on top of your at-home oral hygiene routine and visiting Dr. Sexton regularly, but it also includes knowing your own risk factors and taking appropriate steps to reduce them. If you have an autoimmune disease, take certain medications, or have diabetes, for example, you’re more likely to suffer from gum disease. Knowing this helps you pay closer attention to your gum health. If you need to, you can even floss your teeth more often or use a mouthwash that’s designed to help protect against gingivitis. Listening to Dr. Sexton’s advice about how to care for your teeth and gums will also help you stay healthy.
For the most part, taking proper care of your oral hygiene is simple, and making the time for it now pays off in the long run by ensuring your teeth will last you a lifetime. If you’re ready to take the first step toward a healthier mouth, you can call our office and schedule an appointment with Dr. Sexton at any time.