- brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day
- floss at least once a day (one of the most beneficial things you can do to prevent disease in your oral cavity)
- have your teeth cleaned by a dental professional every six months
- avoid tobacco products
- follow a high-fiber, low-fat, low-sugar diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables
- limit sugary snacks and drinks
Many of the foods you eat cause the bacteria in your mouth to produce acids Sugary foods are obvious sources of plaque, but there are others that you might not realize can cause harm. Starches—such as bread, crackers, and cereal—also cause acids to form. The dental plaque created from bacteria also produces substances that irritate the gums, making them red, sensitive, and susceptible to bleeding. This can lead to gum disease, in which gums pull away from the teeth and form pockets that fill with bacteria and pus. If the gums are not
treated, the bone around the teeth can be destroyed and teeth may become loose or have to be removed. Good oral health is especially important to groups such as children, pregnant women, and older adults.
Proper Brushing and Flossing Techniques
- Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against the gums.
- Move the brush back and forth gently in short (tooth-wide) strokes.
- Brush the outer tooth surfaces, the inner tooth surfaces, and the chewing surfaces of the teeth.
- Use the tip of the brush to clean the inside surfaces of the front teeth, using a gentle up-and-down stroke.
- Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen your breath.
- Break off about 18 inches of floss and wind it around the middle fingers of each hand. Hold the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers.
- Guide the floss between your teeth using a gentle rubbing motion.
- When the floss reaches the gum line, curve it into a C shape against one tooth. Gently slide it into the space between the gum and the tooth.
- Bring the floss back toward the contact point between the teeth and move the floss up or down the other side, conforming the floss to the shape of the tooth.
- Hold the floss tightly against the tooth. Gently rub the side of the tooth, moving the floss away from the gum with up-and-down motions.
- Repeat this method on the rest of your teeth.
Use mouth rinse for added protection
- A mouth rinse, in addition to daily brushing and flossing, can increase the cleanliness of your mouth. Antimicrobial mouth rinses reduce bacteria and plaque activity, which cause gingivitis and gum disease. Fluoride mouth rinses also help reduce and prevent tooth decay. Always talk to your dentist about any new products you are interested in trying. Not everyone should use a fluoride mouth rinse. For instance, fluoride rinses are not recommended for children ages 6 or younger because they may swallow them. Always check the manufacturer’s label for precautions and age recommendations and talk with your dentist about the use of fluoride mouth rinse.
Here are a few additional tips for maintaining healthy teeth and gums.
- Reduce the daily amount of sweetened drinks.
- Drink plenty of fluoridated water with meals, and along with sweetened beverages to wash away the sugar and acids.
- Use a straw to help reducing the contact of sweetened beverages with your teeth.
- Supplement (or replace) sugary drinks with milk, yogurt, or water