But my dental health is perfect already, said no one ever.
Perfection is a myth– especially when it comes to oral hygiene. Taking great care of our teeth isn’t a one-time commitment, it’s a daily practice that we carry with us throughout our lives. Having said that, keeping a dental health cheat sheet couldn't hurt.
Dental health is important– duh. But for more reasons than you may think. Sure, nobody wants to deal with tooth decay and cavities, but there’s so much more to consider when it comes to oral preventive care, running on a wide scale from bad breath, all the way down to cancer. Bad oral health has been known to lead to respiratory infections, diabetes, infertility, and erectile dysfunction, just to name a few. It turns out, keeping those whites pearly is doing more for you than just upping popularity on Tinder.
Here are 8 simple ways to brush up on your oral hygiene to keep your teeth, mouth, and body in tip top shape:
Dentists made it easy for us by timing the perfect tooth-brushing experience. Two minutes is long enough to ensure we don’t miss any crucial spots, while still being short enough to prevent us from hogging the bathroom. Try focusing 30 seconds on each upper and lower side. Set a timer on your phone, or make it fun by creating a short song playlist and choosing your 2 minute tooth jam. Electric brusher? Choose models that have a timer built in for an easy clean.
Look, we know flossing is a pain, but it takes all of 1 minute, and it’s your dentist's favorite way to nag you for a reason– neglecting to floss is the number one cause of gum disease, which is a host for a whole lotta future issues including, you guessed it– tooth loss. They say it takes 30 days to start a habit. Put daily flossing on your calendar, and make it a must.
We know, we know– it’s the holidays. Sugar is knocking at our front door. It is greeting us at the office, and hanging out with our family. We’re not suggesting you ghost on sugar completely, but try and limit your consumption. When possible, opt for fruit, dark chocolate, or baked goods vs hard candy or chewy confections which are loaded with refined sugar and have a bad habit of sticking in our teeth, wearing away our enamel and causing plaque. Can’t turn down the holiday fudge? Swish with water after to help remove any residue, or even better– just slip away from the festivities to do a quick brush in the bathroom.
The rule goes something like this: carbonated water is better for your teeth than soda, but worse than flat water. Carbonation can wear away tooth enamel over time, but adding sugar to the mix speeds the process up like a timelapse video. What does this mean for you? If you want a bubbly treat, opt for a sugar-free flavored seltzer vs a can of Pepsi, but if you’re feeling dehydrated, it’s best to just hit the kitchen tap.
Jaw-wrangling beer bottle caps might be your party trick, but the nerve damage you risk ain't worth the high fives. There’s a reason humans invented things like bottle openers, lid grips, and pliers. Your teeth are not a tool! Skip the animal instinct and start twisting, tearing, and popping things open with your hands like an evolved species.
Pro cleaning can get in where your $3 toothbrush cannot. Plus, getting your teeth cleaned at the dentist is a great ease-in way to get over your dental anxiety, and find a dentist you can build a trusting relationship with. Bring your earbuds and zone out while getting your gums massaged. Pick a twice-annual date and add it to your calendar. Shopping around for insurance? Prioritize finding a plan that covers basic dental to ensure you stick to your appointments.
Obviously smoking is terrible for you, but do you know why it’s so awful for your teeth? Nicotine actually reduces blood flow to the gums which puts you at heavy risk for gum disease and more– and yes, nicotine vapes are included here. Even tobacco-free smoke can have detrimental effects to your gums (hello weed smokers), not to mention discoloring your teeth over time. If you’re looking for a sign to quit, consider us your beacon.
They don’t show you this in toothpaste ads! Tongue brushing has plenty of upsides– it reduces the amount of bacteria left in your mouth after you brush, preventing bad breath and tooth decay. The downside? It can make you gag and it looks a little goofy. By our calculations, tongue brushing wins this round– ding ding!