Healthy teeth and gums are a cornerstone of our oral and overall health. Here, our Edmonton dentists help you brush up on how to keep your teeth and gums healthy and offer helpful tips for better dental care.
How to Maintain Healthy Teeth
We sometimes have patients ask us, “How can I keep my teeth strong and healthy naturally?”
Having healthy teeth takes a lifetime of effort and care - both at home and in the dentist’s office. It’s not one item that we can check off our to-do list and be done forever.
Rather, it takes commitment to a solid daily routine, being mindful of your eating and lifestyle habits, and diligently practicing oral hygiene techniques to preserve your oral health. Taking care of your teeth can also help prevent future problems and emergency visits to your dentist. Here are some tips on how to keep your teeth healthy.
See your dentist two times per year.
While your everyday habits are critical to your oral and overall health, we still recommend booking an appointment with your dentist every six months or so - even if you brush and floss diligently.
Those cleanings and checkups are important as they provide your dentist with the opportunity to remove plaque and tartar buildup, and check for cavities and other trouble spots. By scheduling your twice-per-year appointments, you'll also have a better chance at preventing dental emergencies.
Use a fluoride toothpaste.
Confirm that your go-to toothpaste contains fluoride, which will help prevent tooth decay and act as a protective barrier for your teeth. This natural mineral helps rebuild the minerals in your tooth enamel, preventing or reversing decay.
Brush properly twice a day to maintain healthy teeth and gums.
Most people understand the importance of brushing their teeth two or three times a day and the role it plays in their oral hygiene routine. Brushing your teeth twice daily helps keep bacteria in check, removes plaque, keeps breath fresh and is a major contributor to healthy teeth and gums. However, it’s critical to use the correct brushing techniques to get the full benefits of this task.
We recommend brushing in small circular motions, taking time to brush the front, back and top of each tooth surface (avoid using sawing back and forth motions). This process should take about two or three minutes.
Remember not to use a hard-bristled toothbrush or brush too hard, which can damage tooth enamel and the gums and cause pain. If these do happen, side effects can include permanent damage to tooth enamel, gum erosion and tooth sensitivity. Also, don’t forget to brush your tongue.
Don’t give up on flossing.
This is one of our perennial answers when patients ask us, “How can I make my teeth and gums healthy?”
Flossing dislodges particles and plaque from between your teeth, where the bristles of your toothbrush are unable to reach. Performing this task can also help prevent bad breath and gum disease.
Our dentists recommend gently pushing the floss all the way down to the gumline, hugging the side of the tooth with up and down motions. Avoid snapping the floss up and down between your teeth, which may cause pain and not prove as effective at removing plaque.
Some may find flossing challenging, especially older adults with arthritis and young children. Ready-to-use dental flossers and other tools you can purchase at your local pharmacy can help you effectively accomplish flossing, and maintain your teeth healthy.
Rinse with mouthwash.
It might be worth it to add mouthwash to your oral care routine, as it cleans those difficult-to-reach areas in and around the gums, reduces the amount of acid in your mouth and remineralizes teeth to protect oral health. Ask your dentist if any specific mouthwash would work best for you, since certain kinds are best for those with sensitive teeth, and for children. You may also receive a prescription for a mouthwash.
You likely know that smoking is bad for your health, but did you know the Canadian Dental Association considers it a risk factor for gum disease? It also harms the body’s immune system, which can introduce challenges when it comes to healing tissues in the mouth and elsewhere.
Not only does smoking affect our health, it also impacts the appearance of the mouth, resulting in yellowish discolouration in the teeth and tongue, and can make breath smell bad.