While having a pearly white smile is ideal for all those holiday pictures coming up, it’s even more important for your overall health. In fact, issues with the health of your mouth, such as gum disease or excess plaque, have the potential to lead to or exacerbate a number of illnesses and medical conditions, including heart disease, arthritis, respiratory illness and premature labor in women who are pregnant. By maintaining good oral hygiene, you can help prevent some of these issues and have a healthy smile at the same time. In recognition of National Flossing Day on November 28, here are a few tips to keep in mind to make sure your teeth and mouth stay healthy and strong:
- Eat a healthy diet: Incorporating foods high in calcium, vitamin D and vitamin C into your diet can help keep your teeth strong and fight off bacteria and plaque.
- Avoid junk food: It’s equally as important to reduce your consumption of foods high in sugar, like candy and soda, which can harm tooth enamel and contribute to tooth decay.
- Visit the dentist: Many people do whatever they can to avoid a trip to the dentist, but this will likely lead to bigger problems down the road. Make sure to visit at least twice a year for a thorough cleaning and exam to maintain oral health and resolve any issues before they get out of hand.
- Floss regularly: Flossing helps clean between teeth where toothbrush bristles can’t reach, so it’s important to do this at least once a day to help keep plaque and bacteria at bay. If you’re not comfortable with traditional floss, consider a tool such as a dental pick or pre-threaded flosser to help. For a step-by-step guide for flossing best practices, visit the American Dental Association’s website here.
- Brush twice a day: Most people already build this important step into their daily routine, but it’s critical to take your time and not rush through brushing your teeth in order to be effective. Don’t brush too hard (this can cause gum discomfort), and be sure to brush for at least two minutes with fluoride toothpaste to have the most impact. Check out this helpful graphic for more brushing tips.
- Maintain your tools: Make sure to keep your toothbrush in an upright position after brushing and allow it to air-dry before covering to avoid bacteria growth. And it’s important to replace your toothbrush every few months; a worn, old toothbrush will not be as effective in cleaning your teeth.
For Health Advocate Members
If you’re a Health Advocate member, call your Personal Health Advocate for help finding a dentist in your area or scheduling an appointment for a check-up.
Other Helpful Resources
To learn more, please visit any of the websites below that provide additional tips and information about how to keep your mouth in tip top shape: