It’s important to make dental hygiene a top priority. Here are six ways to stay on top of oral care.
Dental care has come a long way over the years with nifty gadgets like electric toothbrushes and water flossers, but one fact remains: we only get one set of adult teeth. Not only do you want to keep those teeth in top shape, studies also link poor oral health to heart disease and other health conditions. It’s important for adults to make dental hygiene a top priority. Here are seven ways to take better care of your oral health.
1. Brush your teeth (at least) twice every day.
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste for a minimum of two minutes each time. Whether using a manual or electric toothbrush, use soft bristles and apply gentle pressure to avoid injuring your gums.
Brushing and flossing help remove plaque, a sticky substance that remains on your teeth after eating. The bacteria in plaque feeds on particles of food and then releases an acid that can wear down the enamel of your teeth. Plaque that isn’t removed by brushing or flossing can harden into tarter, which can cause inflamed gums and gum disease.
2. Floss every day.
Flossing removes food particles and plaque that’s lodged in between your teeth and along the gum line. These areas are hard to reach with a toothbrush, and flossing even just once a day can help save your teeth from decay.
A 2018 study suggests it’s better to floss before you brush your teeth. Bruising after flossing can brush away any of the bacteria and particles that are loosened during flossing. It also allows fluoride in the toothpaste to more easily reach the tooth surface that is the space between your teeth.
While this study suggests flossing first, dentists agree that the best flossing routine is one that you will follow and can fit into your everyday routine.
3. Maintain a balanced diet.
Taking care of your overall health and getting the nutrients your body needs is also good for your teeth, gums, and preventing infection. A balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, proteins, calcium-rich foods, and whole grains will help your teeth and gums stay as healthy as possible. You don’t want to end up with gum disease, which can cause you to lose teeth.
4. Drink plenty of water.
Water helps wash away the sticky film left on your teeth after eating foods like juice, soda, cookies, and cereal. That sticky film helps the bacteria that causes cavities to grow. Drinking water can also dilute acid from coffee, tea, and some fruits. When acid stays in your mouth, it can wear away tooth enamel, making your teeth weaker. So drinking plenty of water, especially after a meal or snack, can reduce the risk of developing cavities.
5. Avoid tobacco use.
Tobacco use in any form—cigarettes, pipes, vape pens, and smokeless (spit) tobacco—raises your risk for gum disease. Smoking makes it harder for any gum damage you already have to heal. It can also weaken your immune system, making it harder to fight off a gum infection. Smokeless tobacco can irritate your gums, which can lead to damage and decay of the roots of your teeth.
6. Keep up with regular dental checkups.
Routine dental exams and cleanings are so important and can help treat and prevent painful problems down the road. Because your dental health is so important to your overall health, many Medicare Advantage plans—including Clover Health—offer routine dental coverage.
If you experience dental problems such as loose teeth, tender gums that are prone to bleeding, ongoing pain, dry mouth, or bad breath between regular appointments, don’t put off calling the dentist. These are all signs that you should schedule an additional appointment.
Following the tips above will help you stay on top of your dental hygiene and be prepared for the next dentist visit.
At Clover Health, we know how important dental care is to our members’ overall health. Many Medicare Advantage plans include preventive and comprehensive dental coverage. Learn more about Medicare and dental coverage here.
Published on 6/8/22
Photo credit: Getty