When you think of a beautiful smile, you’re most likely thinking of the aesthetics like straight, white teeth. What many do not realize, however, is that a beautiful smile cannot exist without healthy teeth and gums. Regular visits to your hygienist and dental team are essential in helping you maintain not only great oral health, but overall health as well. In between dental visits, follow the “daily 4,” a simple four-step checklist introduced by the American Dental Hygienists’ Association and the Wrigley Oral Health Program to encourage healthy oral health habits during National Oral Hygiene Month. Do the “daily 4” to keep your mouth and smile healthy with these tips:
This may be obvious but it is the foundation of great oral hygiene. While your schedule may make it hard to brush after every meal, do brush at least twice a day. Brush your teeth for two to three minutes and angle your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to ensure you’re properly brushing any accumulated plaque on your teeth and gum line. Keep in mind that your teeth comprise only 1/20th of the oral surfaces in your mouth, so do not neglect to brush your gums and tongue too; your tongue plays host to hundreds of bacteria and brushing your gums will aid in the prevention of gum disease.
Flossing is extremely important for your oral health – in fact, it’s just as important as brushing your teeth. Flossing will help you remove food particles and plaque that your toothbrush cannot reach by cleaning between the teeth and under the gums. Flossing will be your biggest defense against gum disease and should be incorporated as a part of your daily routine.
In conjunction to brushing and flossing, rinsing with an antimicrobial mouthwash will provide an added defense to gum disease. Rinsing helps to prevent cavities by removing the plaque and some of the disease-causing bacteria that live on soft tissue and your gums. It also helps to eliminate the bacteria in your mouth. Not only that, rinsing after brushing and flossing can leave your mouth feeling extra fresh!
Sugar-free gum can help neutralize and wash away the acids produced by bacteria feeding on the foods you consume. Additionally, chewing gum also stimulates saliva production, which is important, as saliva helps to prevent tooth decay while fighting potentially harmful bacteria in your mouth. Look for the ADA seal to ensure that it is dentist-approved and remember, to this date only sugar-free gums have the ADA approval.
Maintaining great oral health is especially important because many systemic diseases have oral manifestations; these include heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, cancers, to name a few. People tend to visit their dentist more than they do their general physician, putting dentists in a unique position of serving as the first line of defense in regards to your oral and overall health. Visiting your dentist twice a year will not only benefit the health of your mouth, but your wellness as a whole.
Your mouth can serve as the window to the rest of your body and great oral health is a reflection on your overall health. Follow the ADHA’s lead and incorporate these four steps into your at-home oral care routine. Continue to visit your dental team at least twice a year to ensure you’re on track to a happy and healthy mouth.