Who would not like to smile confidently, showing off perfect white teeth? But this may not be possible if you are not taking good care of your teeth and gums.
Some pains are physical, and some pains are mental.
But the one that is both, is dental. ~ Ogden Nash
How true! Most of us dread sitting in a dentist’s chair and have a drill thrust inside our mouths. So why not take good care of your gums and teeth by brushing regularly, and more importantly, avoiding that unpleasant trip to the dentist? It is extremely important to maintain dental hygiene. If you do not take proper care, not only are you at a risk of developing bad breath and gum and tooth infections, but the bacteria that can cause these problems can also cause digestive problems, and respiratory and heart diseases.
Brushing, Flossing, and Rinsing
There are two very important things that you should do as part of your basic dental care.
Brush at least twice a day, and preferably after every meal. Use a toothpaste that contains fluoride. Fluoride is an important ingredient and it helps prevent cavities and gingivitis. Toothpaste contains abrasives. These ingredients help to get rid of plaque, a clear, transparent film-like substance that’s full of bacteria and sticks to the teeth and gums. Plaque that is not removed, hardens and forms tartar, which needs to be removed by a dentist. People with sensitive teeth may be advised to use a specific toothpaste by their dentist. Use a soft-bristled brush. Brush for 2-3 minutes and also clean your tongue and the roof of your mouth. Replace your toothbrush every three months.
Flossing removes the tiny food particles that are stuck between your teeth, which brushing cannot. Hold the floss in a C-shaped curve, slide in between the teeth, and move it back and forth. Be careful not to floss vigorously or you may harm your gums. Floss at least once a day. Rinse your mouth using antimicrobial and fluoride mouthwash twice a day. It helps to prevent tooth decay, buildup of plaque and gingivitis.
What you eat plays a major role in oral hygiene. It’s common knowledge that sugar causes tooth decay. Sugary foods lead to a buildup of acids inside the mouth, and these acids are slow to dissolve. Thus they remain in the mouth longer, and constant exposure to these acids can wear away tooth enamel, damaging the teeth. Eating sugary foods as part of a meal may be less harmful since saliva production is increased which helps in washing away the acids. The solution is to avoid eating too much sugar and if you do, make sure you brush your teeth or rinse your mouth immediately afterwards. Candies, mints, cakes, pies, and cough drops are all high in sugar content and their consumption should be minimized. If you like sweetened cereal, never eat it dry, always add milk. Similarly highly acidic food items, especially citrus fruits, should ideally be consumed as part of a meal so the harmful effect of acids is reduced.
Here is what you should eat – whole grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy products. These things are an essential part of your diet. Foods rich in calcium and phosphorus are beneficial to teeth. They help to deposit minerals on the tooth enamel (which otherwise get worn away when you eat sugary or acidic foods). Examples include chicken, fish, meat, cheese, sesame seeds, milk, yogurt, and nuts. Take a break between snacks and meals. Eat crunchy fruits, celery, carrots, etc., as they increase the production and flow of saliva, which washes away food particles and keeps the mouth clean.
Other Things to Keep in Mind
- A regular visit to the dentist is a must. Make an appointment with your dentist every six months for professional dental cleaning. If you notice swollen and bleeding gums, or have constant toothaches, do not delay seeing the dentist. Timely and corrective action against these problems can save you from serious ailments in the near future.
- Dental care for children from an early age is vital for maintaining healthy teeth. Take your child to a dentist when he turns one so the doctor can assess his dental health and suggest any remedial steps, if need be. Never let your kid fall asleep with a bottle of milk or juice in the mouth. These liquids can pool in the mouth and the sugar in them can be a major cause of tooth decay.
- Quit smoking. Use of tobacco products should be strictly avoided. Not only do they stain the teeth, but their consumption is an open invitation to mouth and throat cancer.
- Chewing on hard objects like pens can damage the teeth.
It is a well-known fact that maintaining oral hygiene plays an integral role in the overall health of an individual. Poor oral health means having other health problems too. Start and end your day by brushing your teeth. Take good care of your teeth and gums, and you will not have to think twice before showing off your pearly whites, and that’s a huge confidence booster, leading to a fulfilling social life as well.