“Exercise and sport activities will keep you away from drugs and bad habits”, “Brush your teeth”, “Go to the dentist”. I can still vividly remember these phrases told over and over when I was growing up. When you are just a kid it’s hard to understand the reason behind many things that your parents, teachers, dentist and pediatrician recommend. Often times, we do them just because we were told to do so, but the power lies on doing things when you understand the reason behind it.
After completing 16 years of college, medical school and medical training combined, I’ve learned more than what I can remember. Now that I understand the power of prevention and living a healthy lifestyle, it is much easier for me to do the “little things” to keep me functioning at an optimal level. And, one of those “little things” is keeping a good dental health. Dental hygiene has been associated with general health. Good dental health and hygiene combined with regular visits to the dentist will help prevent many health problems; most notably, heart complications and stroke. The reason behind it is that you have a lot of bacteria in your mouth, most of them are harmless and necessary for its normal function. The problem is that if you have poor dental hygiene, the population of bacteria can reach levels that will lead to diseases of the gum and oral infections. These conditions will increase systemic inflammation which in turn predisposes you to many chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease, cancer and many others.
Here are 10 important tips for your dental health and hygiene:
- Brush twice a day. Brush for 2-3 minutes. Learn here how to brush correctly.
- Eat a healthy diet including vitamin A and C, these will prevent gum disease.
- Floss daily. It will reach areas that the tooth brush can’t reach. Learn here how to floss correctly.
- Visit the dentist twice per year if you have good dental health and every 3-4 months if you have any dental conditions.
- Avoid brushing for at least 30 minutes after eating acidic food or beverages. Exposure to acidic food or beverages soften your enamel (outer covering of the tooth) and brushing immediately can cause enamel erosion.
- Avoid sodas, sticky foods and tobacco.
- If chewing gum, use sugar-free gum (avoid the ones containing sugar which can lead to cavities).
It is important to keep your toothbrush clean as well:
- Replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months or as soon as the bristles are frayed. Also, if you just had a throat or upper respiratory infection replace your brush.
- Close the lid before flushing the toilet. Most sinks (along with your toothbrush) are very close to the toilet and every time you flush the toilet a mist of germs and bacteria gets thrown into the air and, guess where it will land? For this reason you should ALWAYS close the toilet lid before flushing.
- Occasionally, you can pour some mouthwash (like Listerine) that contains alcohol into a small cup and stir it with the bristled end of your brush for thirty seconds. The alcohol on the mouthwash will kill off most of the bacteria.
Follow these tips for a beautiful smile! Share with me any other good dental hygiene tips you follow.