If you’ve kept your smile sterling after all these years, congratulations! You might think you’ve already got a handle on what constitutes adequate care, but it never hurts to understand how to remain in good condition. And if you need to brush up, read on!
MARK YOUR CALENDAR
Visit the dentist twice a year unless you have periodontal disease. If disease is present, you should see a dentist or periodontist four times a year.
Dental hygiene helps with all body systems. The mouth is the first part of the entire digestive tract. Your dentist and hygienist work to reduce inflammation, which plays a part in heart disease, stroke, preterm labor, and diabetes. They will also talk about sleep disturbances such as apnea and provide oral cancer screenings. With regular patients, hygienists are able to see systematic changes early.
While regular dental care is essential, your daily oral hygiene practices are just as important. It’s no secret that you should brush your teeth for a minimum of two minutes at least twice a day.
Think of your mouth as quadrants, which means a mere thirty seconds of brushing per quadrant. Don’t neglect brushing your tongue, gums, and the inside of your cheeks. Once per day, you should plan on devoting a little extra time for flossing. One dental hygienist we consulted offered this professional (tongue-in-cheek?) advice: “Use the fuzzy end of the toothbrush and floss only the teeth you want to keep!”
TIPS FOR A DAZZLING SMILE
You should replace your toothbrush every three months. If you have trouble remembering to do this, the next time you change your brush, consider writing the date on it in permanent marker. Drink plenty of water and eat crunchy fruits and vegetables. A healthy diet will not only make your teeth healthier, but you healthier. Limit sugar and acidic foods as they can break down tooth enamel.
SOMETHING TO CHEW ON
Some health conditions and and medications cause dry mouth, which can lead to tooth decay and gum disease if left untreated. It’s a common cause of dental decay in older adults, but there are ways to remedy and prevent it.
• Limit caffeine and avoid all tobacco products.
• Avoid mouthwashes containing alcohol. There are alcohol free options.
• Avoid over the counter antihistamines, which can exacerbate dry mouth.
• Use xylitol mints to stimulate the flow of saliva.
• Sip water throughout the day.