OK, so maybe you haven’t always been so diligent about brushing your teeth, flossing, going to the dentist . . . Maybe you’re just now getting serious about improving your oral health. No worries.
It’s not hard to get back on track. Maintaining the health of your teeth and gums isn’t difficult — it just needs to be part of your routine. Today, let’s take a moment to talk about 3 simple additions to your daily routine that you can make to get you on the road to having a bright, healthy smile.
1. Be truthful with your dentist about your oral care habits.
That, of course, may first entail you finding a Colorado dentist and scheduling your regular dental appointment.
Once you’re in the dentist’s chair, though, it’s important to be open and honest about your current oral health care routine. That makes some people pretty nervous. But really, don’t be. You’re certainly not alone if you’ve skimped on maintaining your smile. Many American adults are in the same boat.
Do you skip flossing from time to time? Still brush your teeth with a circle motion? Miss a day brushing your teeth here and there? Drink a lot of sugary drinks, or regularly eat sugary and other acidic foods? Smoke or chew tobacco? Have you rarely gone for dental check-ups in the past?
Don’t worry — your dentist and hygienist aren’t going to judge you! But they do need to know the situation, so that they can help you figure out what about your dental care routine is working, and what isn’t. So. Be open and honest with them, so that they can help you develop better brushing skills and better oral health care methods.
2. Stay hydrated.
Believe it or not, much of your oral health depends on how much water you are drinking.
First and foremost, water washes decay and odor-causing bacteria out of your mouth. The more often you drink water, the more often you’re washing away harmful pathogens. Water also dilutes the acids that eat away at your enamel and cause cavities. The weaker the concentration of acids in your mouth, the less damage can be done.
Fluorinated city water helps to keep your teeth strong. The fluoride ions that most cities add to their water supply help to fix calcium and magnesium — the two elements your body requires for building and maintaining tooth and bone density — within the enamel of the teeth.
Water keeps soft tissues — the tongue, interior cheek surfaces, the gums and the soft palette — moist. That’s important because dehydrated tissues are more permeable to harmful germs. Just like it’s harder to force your hand through wet sand than it is to put your hand through dry sand, it’s more difficult for germs to get through cellular membranes when your body’s tissues are properly hydrated.
Lastly, water is a necessary component for producing saliva. Saliva isn’t just a digestive secretion and aid to swallowing. It’s a natural mouthwash. Just like regular old water, it mechanically washes away germs. But it also works by enzymatic action to break down food particles left in the mouth after meals — food particles that would otherwise harbor harmful bacteria.
You can’t substitute a lot of water for daily brushing. But you should get your proper water intake to stay well hydrated — about 8 to 12 eight-ounce cups (2 liters) per day, depending on how physically active you are.
3. Take problems like tooth grinding or TMJ seriously.
Do you often wake up with jaw pain? Ever experience temporary lockjaw? Tell your dentist.
You may have a TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder. TMJ disorders can be genetic. They can be caused by inflammatory processes, like infections. Or, they can crop up as a result of an earlier jaw injury. Sometimes TMJ problems are caused when one unwittingly grinds his or her teeth while sleeping — a behavior known as bruxism. Bruxism places mechanical stress on the TMJs and can cause inflammation and pain to develop in them.
Many people deal with bruxism at some point or another. It can be induced by stress in your daily life. Or, it can be associated with a sleep disorder. Sometimes, it’s just something people do, for no attributable reason.
Regardless of why it happens, bruxism can cause serious damage to your smile. It wears down chewing surfaces. It can create microfissures in the enamel, which germs can exploit to gain deep access to teeth and cause cavities or dental infections. And it can even cause dental fractures (tooth breakage).
Luckily, there are easy treatments for bruxism. Your dentist can make you a soft mouth guard to wear at night; this will cushion your teeth and prevent you from grinding them directly together.
If bruxism is particularly persistent, he or she may also refer you for a sleep study to determine whether or not you have a treatable sleep disorder, or refer you to someone who can help you learn to better manage daytime stress.
Improve your oral health routine by following the 3 tips listed above.
It’s easy to take immediate steps to improve the health of your smile. Talk with your dentist (or find one in Colorado and schedule your first appointment!); he or she may recommend additional actions you can take to make your oral health care routine more effective.