Some call it a journey. Some call it a chore. Some don’t think anything of it at all. Whatever you consider it, preventive dental care helps keep your teeth and gums healthy and lessens the risk for future oral issues.
Ever since you were little, you've been told to brush your teeth before going to bed. Little did you know then, this little routine would become the basis for your dental health as you grew older.
What’s at stake?
Our mouth is full of bacteria. Some good and some bad. The primary culprit of tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease that we’re worried about is the result of bacterial plaque: a thin film that forms on tooth surfaces from food particles.
You get rid of the bacterial plaque with preventive dental care. Here, the American Dental Association recommends:
- Brushing teeth at least twice a day (preferably bookending the day) for two minutes with fluoride toothpaste
- Cleaning between your teeth (flossing)
- Drink water with fluoride
- Eat a healthy diet
- See your dentist regularly
Practicing regular dental care early on carries numerous benefits. But it’s never too late to begin! Here are some helpful tips to keep you on the right path to better dental care.
Get into a routine
Acknowledging that developing a habit is difficult may be the first step in your journey to better dental care. Acknowledging this will put it at the forefront that there will be struggles at times, and that’s OK. The important thing to remember is to keep going.
Here are five ways to help develop a habit for better hygiene practices:
- Set a schedule
- Stay organized
- Have a visual reminder
- Reward yourself
- Practice mindfulness with dental hygiene
Maybe your issue is not flossing as much. Use your toothbrush as a “trigger.” When you reach for your toothbrush to brush your teeth, simply remember to floss, put down the toothbrush and begin flossing. It’s also helpful if you just think of flossing one tooth. Hey, one tooth, and you’re done! Or, maybe you really do have time to floss a few more.
What’s the big deal with fluoride anyway?
Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally, found in water, soil, plants, rocks and air. It’s also found in your bones and teeth. Dentists have found fluoride helps in the fight against tooth decay.
How does this work?
Let’s take the example of indulging in a sugary drink. If no dental care action occurs, the bacteria in your mouth will begin to break down the sugar, thus releasing acids that eat away at the minerals found in your tooth enamel. Introducing fluoride to the situation remineralizes your tooth enamel, which helps prevent cavities and reverse early signs of tooth decay.
Develop healthy eating habits
Eating healthy not only plays a role in overall health but dental care too. Candy causes cavities. Coffee stains teeth. Overdoing it with an acidic drink such as orange juice will even strip away at the enamel.
Developing a plan for what you’re going to eat for the day or week will help organize your food choices and lead you to make better decisions.
If you know you’re going to have a soft drink, try to drink it with a meal. When snack attack cravings occur when we’re unprepared, bad choices happen. Grocery shop specifically for healthy snack items and then prepare them in the mornings in case you need to grab and go.
Listen to your dentist
Visiting your dentist on an annual basis (at a minimum) not only allows for professionals to analyze your teeth and clean them but also gives you a chance to receive some expert advice on how to get better with dental care. Dentists will advise on topics such as:
- Which toothbrush is best
- Whitening options
- Lifestyle habits
- Types of toothpaste that would work well (sensitivity)
- Improvement areas with at home dental care practices
Dentists are there to clean and treat your teeth, and that’s what they’ll do. But they’re also there to help coach you on making better decisions and developing a plan that works for you.
At Direct Benefits, similarly, we’re here to guide you in any questions you may have with dental insurance. We believe that one size does not fit all, and there’s a plan out there designed specifically to meet your needs. Compare, select and protect with our dental insurance options.
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