8 Ways to Keep Your Teeth and Gums Healthy
We’re still learning about the connection between oral health and overall physical health.
But make no mistake. The connection is real, and it’s strong. If you care about maintaining your physical health, you must keep your teeth and gums healthy.
That’s not as tiresome as it sounds. A few simple changes to your daily routine can have big, positive impacts on your oral health and your overall well-being. Here are eight ways to keep your teeth and gums healthy and have teeth that last your whole life.
Kick Your Biting and Gnawing Habits
Your teeth are made for eating, not biting or gnawing at nonfood objects. Unfortunately, that means it’s in their best interest for you to kick habits like:
- Biting your nails
- Chewing pens, pencils, and similar objects
- Tearing open packages or containers
- Grinding and clashing your teeth
Restore Your Smile With Dental Implants
No oral health regimen is perfect. Despite our best efforts, our teeth and gums deteriorate as we age.
If decaying, failing, or missing teeth have you concerned about your overall well-being — or too shy to smile — then it may be time to consider dental implants. This is a routine outpatient oral surgery that can turn the clock back on your smile, restore your confidence, and keep your tooth and gum health from deteriorating any further.
Brush Twice Per Day (And Preferably After Every Meal) With Fluoride Toothpaste
Even if your home’s water supply is fluoridated, your teeth and gums will benefit from brushing with fluoride toothpaste.
Brush at least twice per day: once in the morning (ideally after your morning meal) and once before bed. If you can, brush after every mealtime. For best results, use an electric toothbrush and spend at least three to four seconds on each tooth.
Floss Once Per Day
Regular flossing is just as important as regular brushing — maybe more so. So floss at least once per day, preferably after the last meal of the day. Be sure to reach down to the gumline and back behind each tooth to get hard-to-reach buildup before it hardens into plaque.
Limit Sugary and Acidic Food and Drink Intake
Sugar is enemy number one of good oral health; acid is a close second. Minimize your intake of sugary and starchy foods — starch is just complex sugar, after all — and try to brush as soon as possible after indulging.
As for acidic foods, common culprits include:
- Citrus fruit
- Tree fruits
- Fizzy drinks, including beer and sugar-free soda
Add Some Crunch to Your Diet
You can’t brush and floss constantly. Well, you could, but you’d draw some stares.
Fortunately, you can eat foods that clean your teeth as you eat them. They’re not as good as the real thing, of course, but they’re better than sticky, sugary, starchy stuff.
The best “clean” foods are crunchy fruits and vegetables. Think:
- Skin-on apples
- Raw carrots
- Celery sticks
- Cucumber slices
Avoid Tobacco Products
Keeping your teeth and gums healthy is just one of many reasons not to use tobacco, and to try to quit if you do. But it’s a big one — whether inhaled or chewed, tobacco is associated with gum disease, tooth decay, and oral cancer, among other ills.
Work to Control Your Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is a chronic inflammatory condition that afflicts millions of Americans. Among its many negative health impacts is gum and tooth disease. Managing your diabetes can slow or reverse the progression of diabetes-related oral health issues.
Keep Your Teeth and Gums Happy
Taking good care of your teeth and gums probably isn’t your idea of a great time, especially when it means changing well-worn habits.
But oral health is a key component of overall physical health. While we might not see the benefits of healthy teeth and gums from day to day, those benefits are real. And over time, they really matter.
So, keep your teeth and gums happy today. Your body will thank you tomorrow.