Teeth are important to overall health. While most of us associate having good teeth with a perfect smile, our mouth is the gateway to good oral and overall health.
When you take good care of your oral health, it will take care of you. It starts with proper brushing, flossing, rinsing and regularly scheduled deep cleaning of your teeth and gums. What’s the “right” way to brush? Here are some tips:
- Floss before brushing to help loosen the plaque and tartar that can harbor harmful bacteria.
- Brushing is all about being directive. Brush at the gum line, where the bacteria are, so you remove them all. Two to three minutes is plenty if you brush properly.
- Use a small head, soft tooth brush to best get into hard-to-reach spaces and keep from damaging tooth enamel. Keep the brush at a 45-degree angle to your gums and use a circular motion, making sure to target the gum line to remove bacteria and plaque.
- Don’t brush too hard; it should be like lightly dusting a priceless piece of furniture rather than scrubbing the kitchen floor. Use just two fingers to hold the brush to keep from brushing too hard.
- Always brush after eating sweets, which acts like fuel for infection. If you must drink a sugary soda or eat candy, it’s best to do it quickly so your teeth are not “bathed” in sugar.
- After brushing, rinse your mouth with an antibacterial mouthwash (or water) whenever possible to help kill bacteria and remove loosened plaque. Scraping your tongue with a spoon helps reduce bacteria.
Why good oral health is so important
Our gums and teeth are living, breathing organisms with a dynamic nature. Since the early 2000s, scholarly articles have established links between periodontal (gum) disease and a variety of health problems, from diabetes and auto immune conditions, to cardiac disease.
There is a strong connection between gum and cardiac disease. The American Academy of Periodontology found people with periodontal disease are almost twice as likely to have heart disease. One study discovered the presence of common problems in the mouth, including gum disease (gingivitis), cavities, and missing teeth, were as good at predicting heart disease as cholesterol levels.
These are just a few reasons why Dr. Genet believes you should proactively maintain good oral health, and make it part of your normal routine to see a gum specialist.
Healthy diet = healthy teeth
A diet that promotes good oral health is not just about the foods you eat or avoid. When and how you eat them is equally important.
- Foods that take a long time to chew or that you hold in your mouth (i.e., cough drops) can damage teeth by retaining sugar in the mouth longer.
- Instead of snacking on sugary, carbohydrate-rich or acidic foods throughout the day, eat them just during meals to minimize the amount of time you expose your teeth to acid. During meals, your body produces more saliva, which helps wash away food and neutralize harmful acids.
- Much like exercise, oral healthcare requires a dedicated routine and understanding the many benefits our teeth, gums and mouth provide.