It's OK (sort of) to forget to brush your teeth after coming home at 3 a.m. after the occasional Saturday night, but if you're regularly not taking care of your teeth, you could be putting yourself at risk of disease. Luckily, they're ways to improve your dental hygiene, so you can keep your mouth fresh and clean, and your gums free of any bad bacteria or plaque that could affect your health in the long run.
As a certified health coach, I work with clients on taking care of themselves, and that definitely includes the mouth. Sometimes you don't think that how much you're brushing and flossing matters, but honestly, it really does when it comes to the longterm health of your teeth and hums. Oh yeah, and those regular dentist appointments? They matter too. When you forgot to see the dentist or start to get lazy, you can actually develop diseases that can start to affect your health — and obviously, that's not ideal. So, to keep the health of your teeth, gums, and your whole self in check, here are a few easy ways to start to improve your dental care and keep your teeth in tip-top shape. You'll start to have another reason to smile big (and show off those pearly whites).
1. Follow Up Sugar With Water
According to Afora CEO Jeffrey Rappaport over email with Bustle, sugary drinks can be hard on the teeth and gums — so you should always make sure to, in a sense, flush out your mouth with water after consuming anything sugary. "If part of a regular routine, it could cause damage to enamel," says Rappaport, "so follow up with a glass of regular H2O to rinse teeth."
2. Be Extra Careful With Foods That Get Stuck
"Popcorn, with its thin slippery shells, can easily get caught between teeth and under gums. Even the best flossers have difficulty removing them," says Rappaport. And, "if left alone, they can cause swollen, irritated to the gums," Rappaport says. Be extra careful with flossing to get to those cracks and crevices.
3. Don't Chew On Ice
Sure, you might want to chew on a few ice cubes post-workout or on a hot summer day, but resist the urge, says Rappaport. "Ice can cause chipped teeth or chipped dental work. Anything hard that isn't meant to be chewed, such as mints and cough drops, are potentially dangerous to your teeth," Rappaport explains.
4. Chew Gum After Meals
Chewing sugar free gum after meals could help clean the teeth, says Rappaport. "Gum stimulates saliva, which helps rinse away food debris and bacteria from the surfaces in our mouths. It also helps freshens breath," Rappaport adds.
5. Replace Your Toothbrush Regularly
The sight alone of broken bristles should be a sign, but here's a real reason to swap out those heads. "Replace your tooth brush at least every three months. Frayed bristles are a sign that you're brushing too hard, which can damage delicate enamel and gums," says Rappaport. Or, "try switching your brushing hand to ease up the pressure on your toothbrush," Rappaport suggests. And, you can even get a toothbrush sanitizer, for extra protection.
6. See The Dentist
Shouldn't be a surprise here, but getting consistent check-ups with your dentist can keep your mouth protected and clean. "Routine visits with your dental hygienist and dentist (every three to six months) to keep teeth and gums clean and check for any cavities" is step one, explains Rappaport.
7. Use An Electric Toothbrush
According to Dr. Julie Cho, DMD and Goby dental ambassador, to Bustle, using an electric toothbrush can keep teeth and gums strong and clean. "Upgrade to an electric toothbrush. Many dental care issues come from poor brushing habits," says Cho. "The rotationally oscillating brush head fixes the common issue of improper brush technique. You just simply guide the brush head along," Cho adds.
If you notice your dental care starting to waver, try incorporating these healthy habits (and be consistent). It might take time to get into the routine, but it'll be well worth the effort.