Everyone knows it’s important to take care of your teeth and gums, but for many people it’s probably something they don’t think about until a problem occurs. Neglected oral care can result in toothaches, cavities, gum disease, and other maladies that demand immediate attention once they make themselves known. And it only takes the pain and inconvenience of one filling or root canal to underscore the need for ongoing mouth maintenance.
Dr. Vick Handa, a dentist in Burlington, Ontario, says it’s very easy to maintain excellent oral health. “It takes literally just a few minutes each day to maintain a lifetime of good health,” he says. “You just have to make the time.”
Everyone knows you’re supposed to brush your teeth after every meal and before bed. Dr. Handa also offers the following five tips to enhance your oral health.
Use fluoride toothpaste
Many, if not most commercially available toothpastes contain fluoride, as does much of the water we drink. You can also buy fluoride mouthwashes.
“Fluoride is important because it helps prevent cavities in people of all ages,” says Dr. Handa. “It accomplishes this by slowing the breakdown of tooth enamel, which is the hard, outer surface of your teeth,” says Dr. Vick Handa.
When tooth enamel breaks down, it invites decay. It’s also best not to rinse with water after brushing because fluoride toothpaste and other products that contain fluoride work topically.
Floss your teeth daily
Everyone should floss once a day. When plaque is allowed to build up on teeth and along the gum line, tooth decay and gum disease can occur. Flossing allows you to clean between your teeth in spaces that can’t be reached by your toothbrush. Dr. Vick Handa says if you do not floss regularly food particles can remain between your teeth and under your gums, leading to cavities, bad breath and even gum disease.
Eat a balanced diet
Observing healthy nutritional habits can help you keep a healthy mouth. A balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables, foods containing protein and calcium, and even whole grains can give you the nutrients you need for good oral health. Healthy options include low-fat or nonfat milk, yogurt and cheese, as well as salmon, almonds and dark green leafy vegetables. Foods and drinks containing vitamin C is also an excellent option to maintain healthy gums.
Visit your dentist regularly
Having your teeth cleaned professionally can often eliminate potential problems before they have a chance to become big ones.
“Your hygienist will take their time going tooth to tooth, cleaning around the gums and looking for potential issues that might be in their infancy,” explains Dr. Vick Handa. “Then, the dentist will perform a thorough examination to see if any additional steps are needed.”
Use an antimicrobial mouth rinse
Antimicrobial mouth rinses pack more oral protection than many of the popular mouthwashes on the market.
Dr. Vick Handa explains, “Antimicrobial products can help significantly reduce the presence of some bacteria that cause gum disease. Some of the most effective rinses contain a medication called chlorhexidine, which when used along with brushing and flossing, treats gingivitis. Chlorhexidine decreases the amount of bacteria in your mouth and helps reduce these symptoms.”
Maintaining proper oral health takes a bit of preventative maintenance and can be easily accomplished by following these guidelines as part of your regular health care routine.