A healthy smile means more than just a nice smile and fresh breath. It also protects against a variety of serious health issues. Good oral hygiene and frequent visits to the dentist, along with a well-balanced diet and avoiding certain risks like excess sugar and smoking, help you avoid tooth decay and gum disease.
While a few simple steps can do wonders for your smile, the best way to maintain a healthy mouth is to make a lifestyle commitment. This includes brushing several times a day, flossing at least once a day, and visiting your local Northbrook, IL dentist at least twice a year.
These are the bare minimum requirements for protecting your teeth from cavities and gum disease. These simple steps are important for everyone, but they become even more vital for children and teenagers because of how quickly their teeth can develop problems.
The best thing you can do to prevent these problems is to start your child off with good oral hygiene habits as early as possible. When they’re toddlers, you should wipe their gums with a clean washcloth to remove bacteria and food particles. Once their first primary tooth appears, you should continue to clean their teeth and gums daily to eliminate bacteria and harmful plaque.
Once kids get their permanent teeth, they should be brushed at least twice a day and flossed once per day to remove bacteria that can lead to cavities. It’s important to teach your children to spit after brushing and to use short back-and-forth strokes to thoroughly clean the outer and inner surfaces of their teeth as well as the chewing surfaces.
Sticking with these bare minimum standards is the key to maintaining a healthy smile throughout life. Certain bad habits, such as chewing on ice or biting nails, wear away at the enamel of your teeth and can lead to other dental problems.
It’s not only a poor diet that can damage your teeth; certain medications like antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs can also cause dry mouth, which decreases saliva flow and increases susceptibility to dental infections. Stress can also affect oral health by creating spikes in the hormone cortisol, which lowers the immune system and makes your teeth more vulnerable to infection.
The simplest way to protect your teeth is by eating a well-balanced diet that’s rich in nutrients like calcium and phosphorus. Milk, cheese, yogurt, leafy vegetables, canned salmon, calcium-fortified tofu, and almonds are all excellent sources of these essential minerals.
You can’t forget to drink plenty of water as well. This not only helps prevent dehydration but also flushes out toxins and keeps your body strong. It’s also important to avoid sugary drinks, which can cause tooth decay and gum disease, and instead opt for water, low-sugar fruit juices, or unsweetened tea. You should also be sure to brush after every meal and avoid smoking.