If you’re like most people, you may not always think about the state of your teeth, gums, and mouth. But believe it or not, your oral health is a key indicator for your overall wellbeing. There are lots of steps we can take to keep our teeth, gums, and mouth healthy — not just to have a great smile, but to enjoy good health and a better quality of life. Here are five tips everyone should follow to have optimal dental health:
1. Snack on Crunchy Fruits and Veggies
While it’s not a substitute for brushing, eating fibrous, crunchy raw fruits and vegetables like apples, carrots, and celery can help clean your teeth when you eat them at the end of meals or as healthy snacks. When you munch on a fibrous fruit or vegetable, you increase your saliva flow — and this helps wash away the mixture of food particles and bacteria on your teeth that contribute to plaque buildup.
2. Limit Your Intake of Sugary Drinks
If you do have a soda, consume it with a meal or healthy snack at a particular time. Then rinse your mouth with water afterward. If you can, brush your teeth about half an hour after having a soda so that your tooth enamel has time to harden up again after being exposed to the acid in the soda.
3. Limit Your Coffee Drinking
Coffee can damage your enamel because of its high acid content. You don’t have to give up this heavenly drink entirely — just avoid drinking it continuously throughout the day. Instead, drink your coffee at a particular time. Save it for your morning breakfast or give yourself something to look forward to when you take your afternoon break.
4. Stop Smoking and Drinking.
According to this CDC article, over 16 million adults in the US have a disease caused by cigarette smoking, including gum disease, recession, and tooth decay. It’s also associated with canker sores, bone loss, the failure of dental implants, and oropharyngeal cancer.
The CDC advises that you limit your alcohol use as well. Excessive alcohol consumption is associated with increased risk for pharyngeal cancer and cancer of the oral cavity.
5. Avoid DIY Dentistry
Do not attempt to practice any kind of self dentistry at home, dental experts warn. The ADA emphasizes that people who attempt to perform dentistry at home risk causing long-term, irreversible problems to their teeth and gums. In 2017 and 2018 respectively, the ADA issued formal policies discouraging the use of DIY orthodontic kits and direct-to-consumer (DIC) dental services.
The key to maintaining optimal oral health — and a better quality of life — is eating nutritious foods, avoiding alcohol and tobacco, and keeping up with your dental checkups. Of course, no dental hygiene routine is complete without seeing your dentist every six months and sticking with the basics. These include brushing your teeth at least twice a day with an ADA-approved fluoride toothpaste, flossing at least once a day, and following up with a fluoride rinse.