Oral Hygiene is More Than an Attractive Smile
October is National Dental Hygiene Month, and the holiday season is just around the corner. We tend to think of oral health care as a means to an attractive smile, but it is really so much more than that. Poor oral health ultimately can have a significant impact on your quality of life. In short, if the condition of your mouth is below par, it follows that your overall health may be compromised.
Holidays are Hard on Daily Oral Care Regimens
With the holiday season upon us, we often find our schedules altered to meet additional commitments such as attending celebrations, shopping, cooking, decorating, and hosting parties. Fitting in the time for your regular comprehensive oral care routine may be difficult – there may be some nights where all you want to do is fall into bed, or some mornings where you are so rushed to get everything done that some daily maintenance routines get skipped. But good oral hygiene is especially important this time of year to counteract the effects of all the starchy, sugary treats you ultimately consume. Bacteria live in your mouth in the form of plaque, causing cavities and gingivitis, which can lead to gum disease. And bacteria live sugary and starchy treats that remain on your teeth and gums after eating. Even if your mouth is clean, it only takes a small amount of time for bacteria to invade the mouth after eating or drinking. In fact, it has been found that plaque regrows on clean teeth within three to four hours of brushing. So you must practice good oral hygiene every day, particularly during the holiday season, in order to avoid development of dental health problems.
How Can I Maintain My Oral Health Throughout the Year?
Here are some easy-to-keep oral health tips that you can integrate into your everyday routines and continue to perform throughout the year, even when time is at a premium:
• Drink sugary beverages through a straw. This trick reduces the amount of time that the sugars are actually in contact with your teeth, subsequently decreasing the risk of plaque accumulation and developing cavities. Better yet – don’t drink them at all, or rinse out your mouth with water after consuming.
• Replace carbonated beverages, which cause enamel erosion and cavities, with water, milk, tea, or coffee.
• Brush your teeth for at least two to three minutes twice daily. If you’re not sure whether you’re brushing long enough, try the radio trick – brush for the as long as an entire song plays on the radio
• Wait one hour to brush your teeth after consuming highly acidic food or drinks to avoid the risk of wearing away enamel on your teeth. This includes wine, coffee, citrus fruits, and soft drinks.
• Floss every day. No excuses. Although it’s probably the most disliked part of an oral hygiene regimen, it’s the most important part in the prevention of gum disease. Do you want to be included in that 50% of adults? No. So floss at least once a day for 2 to 3 three minutes, preferably before bedtime. Here’s a hint – the flossing process becomes easier the more you practice.
• Change your toothbrush or electric toothbrush head every three to four months before the bristles become splayed and frayed. Old toothbrushes are havens for hidden bacteria, and they also no longer reach the areas the bacteria hide.
• Rinse with antimicrobial and/or fluoride mouthwash when necessary to remove plaque and keep the mouth free from bacteria (use which one your dentist recommends).
• Chew sugarless gum that contains xylitol after meals and snacks. Not only does a minty flavored gum increase your saliva production and reduce bad breath, chewing gum also helps cleanse your mouth and prevents the bacteria associated with cavities from attaching to your teeth.
• Keep a toothbrush, floss and mouthwash at work. If you skipped your morning routine, you can freshen up after lunch or during a morning break.
Don’t Forget Regular Check-Ups
Make sure you schedule a regular check-up and cleaning twice a year at Alabama Family Dentistry. Our dentists are licensed, experienced, and provide comprehensive , diagnostic treatment and preventive service to patients living in Birmingham, Gardendale, Warrior, Sumiton, and surrounding communities. If statistics are correct, and more than 90% of all systemic diseases are exhibited in the mouth, your Alabama Family Dentist could identify a potential health problem in early stages.