It’s easy to take your oral health for granted — until something goes wrong. Then, a toothache, sore gums, or chronic bad breath suddenly makes you aware of the importance of good oral care — and how much you’ve been neglecting your teeth and gums.
The best way to avoid oral health problems is to play a proactive role in your oral health. The good news is you can do many simple things to significantly decrease your risk of problems.
At Harbor Community Health Centers, our team helps patients in San Pedro, California, enjoy better oral health with patient-centered dental care featuring in-office treatments and patient education. This post reviews nine simple steps you can take to optimize your oral health and enjoy a beautiful, more confident smile.
Smoking poses serious risks for your overall health and your oral health, too. Smoking dramatically increases your risks of oral cancer, gum disease, and tooth loss. Plus, it makes your teeth yellow and causes really bad breath. If you need help quitting, you can find support sources here.
Brushing your teeth in the morning and before bed is one of the most important things you can do to prevent oral health problems. Use a soft-bristled brush and toothpaste with fluoride, and ensure you’re using the right technique to optimize your results.
Flossing is also vitally important, especially for preventing gum disease, a leading reason adults lose their natural teeth. Flossing takes a couple of minutes each day, and if regular floss is too finicky, there are flossing tools that can help. Check out this site to ensure you’re flossing correctly, so you don’t irritate your gums.
Many people think they should wait until their brush shows signs of wear before swapping it out for a new one. But experts recommend changing your brush at least every 3-4 months and whenever you’ve been sick. Some brushes even offer handy color strips to let you know when it’s time for a new one.
A 30-second swish with an antiseptic mouthwash gets germ-killing power in cracks and crevices you might miss with a toothbrush. Some rinses contain fluoride, and some are alcohol-free. Ask your dentist to recommend one that’s right for you.
Most people know it’s important to limit sweets to avoid dental decay, but you should also limit sticky foods that can leave residues lodged between teeth and along the gum line. Avoid between-meal snacks, and when you must indulge, opt for fresh fruits. Incorporate foods high in calcium and phosphorus to support your tooth structure.
Water is the best drink for tooth health. Not only is it free of sugars and corrosive acids, but it helps your mouth stay moist to keep bacteria at bay. Dry mouth (xerostomia) is a risk factor for gum disease and cavities. Carry a water bottle with you to avoid buying a soda or energy drink.
Never use your teeth to pry off a bottle cap, open a lid, or tear open a package. Even though these might seem simple and harmless, you can damage your tooth enamel, injure your gums, loosen a restoration, or even chip or break a tooth.
Twice-yearly dental visits are crucial for getting rid of plaque and tartar buildup that can lead to gum disease, infection, bad breath, and tooth loss. Plus, it allows us to spot early signs of decay and check for signs of oral cancer and other health problems.
Finally, if you have any oral health symptom, like tooth pain, gum tenderness, bleeding gums, or an unusual-looking patch on your gums or palate, don’t ignore it. Early treatment is essential for stopping serious problems in their tracks, helping you avoid more complicated and costly treatments later on.
A new year is a great time to make your oral health a priority. If it’s been some time since your last checkup or if you’re having worrisome symptoms, call 310-547-0202 to book an appointment with the team at Harbor Community Health Centers today.