Good oral hygiene is necessary to keep teeth and gums healthy. It involves habits such as brushing twice a day and having regular dental checkups.
However, oral health is about more than cavities and gum disease. Research has shown that there is an association between the health of a person’s mouth and their overall health. Experts consider oral health problems to be a global health burden.
Without treatment, tooth decay or gum problems can lead to pain, problems with self-confidence, and tooth loss. These issues may lead to malnutrition, speech problems, and other challenges in a person’s work, school, or personal life.
People can prevent these problems with proper dental care, both at home and in the dentist’s office. The following are some best practices that can keep teeth and gums healthy.
1. Brush regularly but not too aggressively
Brushing twice a day and using dental floss can help keep teeth and gums healthy.
Most people are aware that brushing their teeth twice a day is one of the most important practices for removing plaque and bacteria and keeping teeth clean. However, brushing may only be effective if people use the correct technique.
People should brush using small circular motions, taking care to brush the front, back, and top of every tooth. This process takes between 2 and 3 minutes. People should avoid sawing back-and-forth motions.
Brushing too hard or using a hard-bristled toothbrush can damage tooth enamel and the gums. The effects of this may include tooth sensitivity, permanent damage to the protective enamel on the teeth, and gum erosion.
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommend using a toothbrush that has soft bristles. They also state that people should change their toothbrush every 3 months or when the ends start to look frayed, whichever comes first.
2. Use fluoride often
Fluoride comes from an element in the earth’s soil called fluorine. Many experts believe that fluoride helps prevent cavities, and it is a common ingredient in toothpaste and mouthwash.
However, some dental products do not contain fluoride, and some people do not use it at all.
Evidence suggests that a lack of fluoride can lead to tooth decay, even if a person takes care of their teeth otherwise. A recent review found that brushing and flossing do not prevent a person from getting cavities if they do not use fluoride.
Many communities in the United States have added fluoride to their water supply. Several organizations recommend this practice, including the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the ADA.
People can find out whether the water in their area contains fluoride by contacting their local government. Reverse osmosis water filters remove fluoride, and people who use well water will need to check the fluoride levels in this water to find out how much is present. Many bottled water brands do not contain fluoride.
3. Floss Everyday
Flossing can remove plaque and bacteria from between the teeth, where a toothbrush is unable to reach. It can also help prevent bad breath by removing debris and food that has become trapped between the teeth.
Most dental health professionals recommend gently pushing the floss all the way down to the gum line before hugging the side of the tooth with up-and-down motions. It is important to avoid snapping the floss up and down between the teeth, which can cause pain and will not remove plaque as effectively.
4. Visit your dentist regularly
Experts recommend that people see a dentist every 6 months for a checkup. During a routine dental examination, a hygienist will clean the teeth and remove plaque and hardened tartar.
The dentist will check for visual signs of cavities, gum disease, mouth cancer, and other oral health issues. They may sometimes also use dental X-rays to check for cavities.
The results of a recent study confirmed that children and adolescents should see a dentist every 6 months to help prevent cavities. However, adults who practice good dental hygiene every day and have a low risk of oral health problems may be able to go less frequently.
The authors of a recent review state that there is a need for more high-quality studies to confirm the ideal frequency of dental checkups.
People can speak to their dentist about how often they need a checkup. The answer may vary depending on a person’s health history, age, and overall dental health. However, anyone who notices changes in their mouth should visit a dentist.
5. Do not smoke!
Smoking harms the body’s immune system, which m