We all want bright pearly whites and healthy teeth and gums. Part of the equation for superb dental hygiene of course includes regularly visiting your dentist, but there are a lot of dental hygiene tips you can incorporate into your routine that will not only benefit your health but your wallet, too.
We asked one of the top dentists in Coral Gables, Dr. Lawrence Lesperance about some oral hygiene tips you can put into practice at home to avoid dental problems.
What are the best preventative dental care tips that people can take at home to avoid dental problems and save money?
I’d love nothing more than to have fewer patients who need serious dental work – it would mean that they’re practicing good dental hygiene at home. Genetics and serious illnesses aside, individuals can easily avoid dental problems and save money along the way. Here are a few of my foundational preventative dental care tips.
The first dental hygiene tip is to brush after eating.
When you eat, bits of the food and drink you consume can attach to your teeth, get caught between your teeth and sneak their way under your gums. Not only can this potentially be embarrassing if you’re caught with a piece of spinach where it shouldn’t be, but it can also cause halitosis (or bad breath) and long-term dental issues.
The second at home dental hygiene tip is to floss daily.
Flossing helps to remove the bits of food that your toothbrush missed or couldn’t reach. We’ve heard all of the excuses why people don’t floss, but I can assure you that once you start and it becomes a habit, you’ll start to appreciate the smooth feeling when you move your tongue over your teeth.
A third oral hygiene tip is to rinse daily with Listerine or another oral antibacterial rinse.
Using an oral antibacterial rinse lowers the amount of bacteria in your mouth that can cause tooth decay and gum disease. In 2019, over 200 million Americans shared that they swished with mouthwash and dental rinse. It’s important to note that this should not be used as a substitute for brushing your teeth but rather a step in addition to. It’s also not suited for young children and like anything else in life, should not be overused.
Does my diet affect my dental health?
The answer is absolutely, yes. One hint is to avoid sugary food and drinks. One piece of candy won’t put you back, but consistently consuming sugary snacks will eventually wear away at your teeth. Substitute that midday soda for some flavored water.
Almost as important as what not to eat is what you should eat. It’s vital to eat healthy food that helps to strengthen your teeth, such as those high in calcium. Teeth are made up of different materials, so they require various vitamins and minerals to help ensure their strength.
Do these preventative dental care steps change as we age?
In general, people should continue to take the same steps as they age, although they should keep a look out for recession. If they notice that their teeth appear a little bigger or their gums a little smaller, then they should schedule a visit to the dentist or make a note to discuss their concerns at the next dental cleaning.
Is it safe to visit my dentist during COVID-19?
It’s worth noting in this day and age when the COVID-19 pandemic is still running rampant, it’s safer to avoid public outings whenever possible. If you do need to go to the dentist, opt for one who follows the recommendations from the American Dental Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but anytime you step out in public there’s a risk – no matter how slight. At South Gables Dental, patient and staff safety is more important than ever before and I encourage you to learn more. about our COVID-19 safety measures.
It’s important to note that the risk of skipping going to the dentist may cause longer-term challenges as oftentimes there can be issues below the surface you won’t see.
Any other preventative dental care tips for taking care of my teeth?
One question I’m asked often: should I floss first or brush first? The answer: brush first, then floss. I like to floss right before I go to sleep so I can rest assured that I’ve rid my mouth of everything I’ve consumed that day and my mouth and teeth will be as clean as possible overnight.
It’s also important to visit your dentist twice a year for a thorough dental cleaning. Just because you’re not experiencing pain doesn’t mean that there isn’t a problem below the surface. A strong home hygiene program can help the wallet as well. More trips to the dentist mean lost time and lost wages, as well as treatment costs.
A good offense is always the smartest defense. In the long run, taking these important steps will help you avoid a lot of pain and save you money.