Dental Health: Beyond Hygiene Habits

old woman with beautiful teeth

Good dental hygiene habits are essential for maintaining good oral health. Brushing and flossing regularly help remove plaque and bacteria from teeth and gums, which can lead to cavities, gum disease, and other oral health problems.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing once daily can help prevent tooth decay and gum disease. The statistics speak for themselves: the CDC reports that tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease, affecting more than 50% of children aged 2-5. Gum disease is also a significant problem, affecting more than 1 in 3 adults in the United States.

Good dental hygiene habits are essential for maintaining good oral health. You can help keep your teeth and gums healthy and cavity-free by brushing and flossing regularly. However, there might be more necessary to ensure dental health. Here are the things you need to do for your mouth beyond hygiene habits.

Healthy Food Choices

You are what you eat—and that includes your teeth. Eating a balanced diet and having certain foods can help promote oral health. For example, crunchy fruits and vegetables like apples, carrots, and celery help clean teeth while you eat them and stimulate saliva production, which helps protect against cavities.

Cheese, milk, plain yogurt, and other dairy products also contain high calcium levels, essential for strong teeth and bones. In addition, water is always a good choice for quenching thirst and keeping the mouth hydrated.

Limit sugary foods and drinks and acidic beverages like soda, sports drinks, and fruit juice. These can all contribute to tooth decay. If you consume sugary or acidic foods, do so as part of a meal rather than as a snack. This step will help decrease the time your teeth get exposed to harmful acids and sugars.

Bad Habit Elimination

Cigarette damaging the teeth

Bad habits might be challenging to eliminate, but you must do what is necessary to ensure good oral health. Smoking is one of the worst things you can do for your teeth and gums. In addition to staining teeth, it increases the risk for gum disease, tooth loss, and oral cancer.

If you have difficulty quitting smoking, talk to your dentist about ways to stop it. Several resources are also available to help smokers kick the habit for good, including nicotine gum, patches, and counseling.

Another bad habit that can damage teeth is using them as tools. Avoid opening packages with your teeth or biting your nails. Not only can this damage teeth, but it can also put you at risk for cuts and other injuries to your mouth.

Nail biting could also lead to infections. If you bite your nails, practice good hand-washing habits to avoid putting harmful bacteria in your mouth.

Dental Clinic Visits

In addition to practicing good oral hygiene habits at home, visiting the dentist regularly is essential. Dentists can detect and treat problems early before they become more serious. They can also offer advice on how to take care of your teeth and gums and identify any risk factors you might have for oral health problems.

Most dental insurance plans cover two visits to the dentist per year. If you don’t have dental insurance, several options are available to make dental care more affordable. For example, many dentists offer payment plans, and some schools provide low-cost or free dental care.

Dentists can also perform emergency procedures should your tooth get knocked out. You will have the best chance of saving your tooth if you see a dentist within 30 minutes. Dental implant procedures will be the top priority if you have lost a tooth.

Even if you have a new dental hygiene routine, you will still require deep cleaning and other treatments from the dentist to protect your teeth. So, don’t skimp on regular dental visits!

Additional Precautions

You might also need to take additional measures to protect your teeth if you are at a higher risk for oral health problems. For example, people with diabetes are more likely to develop gum disease. As such, they might need to see the dentist more often than others.

Pregnant women are also at a higher risk for gum disease. They might need to adjust their oral hygiene routine and see the dentist more frequently during pregnancy.

People who take certain medications might be more susceptible to tooth decay. These include medicines for high blood pressure, depression, schizophrenia, epilepsy, and Parkinson’s disease. If you take any of these medications, talk to your dentist about ways to protect your teeth.

Oral piercings can also cause oral health problems. If you have an oral piercing, make sure to clean it regularly. Otherwise, you might be at risk for infection and other complications.

The Bottom Line

While dental hygiene habits are essential, it is just one part of oral care. To protect your teeth and gums, you must see the dentist regularly, practice healthy habits, and take additional precautions if necessary. Don’t wait until you have a dental emergency to take care of your mouth!


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