10 steps for better dental health
Maintaining a healthy mouth can affect more than just your smile. In fact, according to the American Heart Association and the American Dental Association, poor dental health can lead to a host of other medical problems, including respiratory diseases, heart attack and stroke.
Follow 10 simple steps to keep your mouth healthy—and in addition to a great smile, you’ll be contributing to your good health overall:
1. Brush properly
You may think you brush properly, but your dentist might see things differently. Brushing for at least two minutes a day, twice a day, is the best way to clean your teeth.
Use an up-and-down, back-and-forth motion for your teeth’s outer surfaces, and the same motions for inside teeth surfaces, but at a 45-degree angle.
2. Brush your tongue
Brushing your tongue can wash away some of the bacteria responsible for bad breath. You can buy a tongue scraper, but a toothbrush can do the job, too.
Flossing properly once a day clears away particles that even brushing twice daily can miss. Use conventional floss or a floss toothpick to gently clean between your teeth.
If your gums bleed after flossing, you may have pushed too hard with the floss and hit your gums.
4. Use baking soda for a whiter smile
Brushing with baking soda not only cleans your teeth and your tongue, but it’s a great way to keep your teeth pearly white. Baking soda toothpaste is available for purchase, but plain baking soda works just as well.
5. Keep your mouth moist
A perpetually dry mouth can lead to dental and medical issues like gingivitis, tooth decay and other mouth infections. Chewing sugar-free gum or keeping a bottle of water nearby can help you keep your mouth moist.
6. Watch what you drink
Sugary drinks like sodas and caffeinated drinks like tea and coffee can stain and damage your teeth. Instead of having a soda with dinner, have a glass of water—or a glass of calcium-rich milk.
7. Eat healthy
A healthy diet can give you the nutrients your teeth need to stay healthy as well. Drinking milk and eating dark leafy greens can give your teeth the calcium they need to stay strong; and cheese can help build tooth enamel.
Stay away from sticky, sugary foods, which can coat your teeth in a film that will slowly eat away at the enamel.
8. Don’t use tobacco
The same ugly black tar that ends up in the lungs of smokers can end up on their teeth as well. And using tobacco products — both cigarettes and smokeless tobacco — can lead to oral cancer.
9. Make regular dentist visits
Most dentists recommend visiting twice a year for a tooth cleaning and checkup. Unless you have braces or other dental issues, twice a year should be enough.
10. Pay attention to toothaches
Make sure you visit your dentist as soon as possible if you’re suffering from a toothache; checking the pain immediately can stop it from turning into a much larger problem.
Visting your New York City dentist on a regular basis is one of the best ways to maintain good dental health, and Angie's List features consumer information on more than than 10,000 dentists in the New York tri-state area.