10 Tips for Healthy Teeth

0615_Smiling girl_webGood oral hygiene is important-not only for looks, but for general health as well. Poor oral hygiene can lead to a variety of problems, such as gum disease, infection, bone loss, heart disease, strokes, and more. Here are ten simple ways you and your family can keep your teeth strong and healthy:

  1. Start early. One in four children develops signs of tooth decay before they start school. Help your children establish healthy dental habits as soon as the first tooth appears.
  2. Care for your teeth daily. Brush twice and floss once every day, and remember to replace your toothbrush three to four times a year. If you have braces, you may need a special toothbrush to care for your teeth. If you have arthritis or other problems that make it difficult to hold a toothbrush, it may be easier to use an electric toothbrush or put a foam grip on the handle of a regular toothbrush.
  3. Pass on the sugar. Sugary candies and drinks can sometimes take a while to eat or drink. When the bacteria in your mouth breaks down the sugars and produce acids, those acids linger on the surface of your teeth and can erode enamel, leading to tooth decay.
  4.  Eat a healthy diet. Eating healthfully is important for a lot of reasons, but especially for healthy teeth and gums. To help keep your teeth and gums healthy, eat a well-balanced diet.
  5. Chew gum or rinse after meals. You can help prevent tooth decay and gum problems by chewing sugar-free gum after a meal or rinsing your mouth with an antibacterial rinse. Though not a replacement for brushing and flossing, chewing gum or rinsing after a meal increases your saliva flow, which helps wash away bacterial and neutralize acid.
  6. Don't forget fluoride. Most drinking water, toothpastes, and mouth rinses contain fluoride, which strengthens enamel, making it less likely for your teeth to decay. For young kids, fluoride toothpaste should be used sparingly - no more than a pea-sized dab on the toothbrush. Though fluoride is good for your teeth, using too much of it can cause white spots on teeth.
  7. Apply sealants to your back teeth. Permanent molars come in around age six. Applying sealants to the chewing surfaces of those back teeth provides a thin, protective coating that can prevent and reduce tooth decay.
  8. Guard your mouth. Mouth guards are often required for kids who play on school sports teams. However, unsupervised recreational activities, such as skateboarding and rollerblading, can also pose a threat to teeth. Your dentist can make a custom-fitted mouth guard, or fit a store-bought one to your child's mouth.
  9. Be tobacco free. If you smoke or chew tobacco, consider quitting and counsel your kids not to start. Tobacco stains teeth and significantly increases the risk of gum disease and oral cancer. For tobacco cessation support, visit our website at PacifcSource.com/member/tobacco-cessation.
  10. Go to the dentist. During routine check-ups, your dentist or dental hygienist removes plaque build-up that you can't remove by brushing or flossing alone. During these check-ups, your dentist also looks for signs of tooth decay, signs of oral cancer, wear and tear from tooth grinding, signs of gum disease, and interactions with medications. To keep your mouth healthy, most experts recommend a dental check-up every six months.

Source: WebMD.com/oral-health/features/healthy-teeth-tips

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Last updated 4/1/2015