Good dental health is easy to achieve, but that doesn’t mean it’s widespread. Even though simple home-care procedures can prevent tooth decay, millions of people end up in the dentist’s chair every year, getting their teeth drilled and filled, covered with crowns or veneers, or as a last resort pulled out and replaced with dentures.
If you want to go through life with a healthy smile, make sure that you follow the advice below.
Brush Twice a Day
Use a medium bristle toothbrush to remove the sticky film of plaque that allows bacteria to cling to your teeth. It’s particularly important to brush at the gum line so you prevent the build-up of the hard deposits that lead to gum disease and tooth loss.
Manual toothbrushes do a great job if you brush for the recommended two minutes, but most people only brush for a few seconds. If you’re pressed for time or just plain lazy, then consider switching to an electric toothbrush, which can cover a much larger area in a shorter time.
Electric toothbrushes make thousands of strokes per minute compared to the 300 generated by a manual toothbrush. You don’t need to use an all-singing-all-dancing electric toothbrush; budget models work just fine.
Use a Toothpaste Containing Fluoride
Teeth are under constant attack from the acidic secretions of oral bacteria and one of the best weapons you can employ against this attack is fluoride. The small amounts of fluoride present in toothpaste help to strengthen teeth and make them more resilient.
If you live in a municipality that carries out water fluoridation, you’ll have even more protection. While nearly all water sources contain some level of natural fluoride, about 75% of the population in the United States benefits from the addition of fluoride to their water at a level that is known to prevent tooth decay. You can check if your tap water contains fluoride by visiting the CDC website.
If you mostly drink bottled water, you could miss out on this important protective mineral, so you’ll definitely want to make sure that you at least obtain some protection from your toothpaste. Take a look at the ingredient panel on your toothpaste to see if fluoride is listed.
For more information about the ways that fluoride protects your teeth visit http://ilikemyteeth.org/fluoridation/.
Avoid Acidic Drinks
The acid and preservatives in soft drinks like soda weaken the hard enamel that protects your teeth. When the enamel is compromised, bacteria have easy access to the softer dentin and pulp of the tooth. Weaker enamel results in yellowed teeth with translucent edges, so if you want that pearly white smile, avoid soda.
Soda isn’t the only culprit. A University of Iowa study published in 2008 reported that energy and sports drinks were even more damaging to tooth enamel than soda.
Acidic drinks also lower the pH level in your mouth, making it more hospitable to bacteria.
Get Regular Check-ups and Professional Cleaning
Getting regular check-ups with your dentist will ensure that any changes in your teeth that indicate decay are caught early, allowing the problem to be addressed before painful toothache makes big fillings or root canals inevitable.