An apple a day keeps the doctor away!
Well, not really. It is unfortunate that there is no equally catchy phrase highlighting the importance of maintaining a healthy mouth between dentist visits. I say unfortunate, because along with the obvious benefits of a great looking smile, a well-rounded dental routine can help combat things like cavities, gingivitis, enamel loss, and periodontitis before they even have a chance to become a problem. Not to mention, preventative maintenance can help reduce the costs of your trips to the dentist. And who doesn’t like saving money?
While regular dentist visits are essential to taking care of your mouth, there are a number of things you can start doing right now to ensure it is getting the attention it needs.
This one should be a no-brainer, but many believe we can skip brushing (“Just this once,” we tell ourselves), at one time or another. Do not fall into this trap. Over the course of a single day, even over the course of a few hours, your mouth can become a breeding ground for bacteria. Take the time, twice a day, to brush. I recommend checking out my recent post on brushing techniques to make sure you are brushing correctly. Too much brushing, or brushing too hard, can be just as damaging as not brushing at all.
Another no-brainer, yet a whopping 20% of people never floss. Brushing alone is not going to be enough to reach the in-between areas of your teeth (and no, neither will swishing with Listerine). Over time, the bacteria that are left behind will turn to tartar, which will require dental work to remove.
Fortunately, you only need to floss once a day. But it is important that you floss correctly. Just poking the floss in-between each tooth will not be enough to remove plaque. You need to curve the floss around each tooth, rubbing the tooth up and down. You can check out my previous post on flossing mistakes, which includes instructions on proper flossing techniques, but if you are still not sure you are doing it correctly, ask your dentist. That is what we are here for!
You should be eating a well-balanced diet for a number of reasons, and it should go without saying what you eat plays a huge role in your oral health. Aim for a diet made up of lean proteins and fresh vegetables. Processed foods like bread, cereal, soft drinks, and juice are often high in sugar and can lead to cavities. It does not take much to ensure your diet is optimized towards your oral health, and if you are a health-conscious person chances are it is already. If not, you can add a healthy mouth to the list of reasons why you should be!
By following these steps and making some minor changes to your routine, you can ensure a healthy smile for years to come. You will soon find yourself making less visits to the dentist, and definitely less painful ones. What are you waiting for? Start taking care of your mouth today, so you can share your smile with the world!