Preventive care is one of the best—and easiest—ways you can maintain your healthy smile for a lifetime. Practicing good oral hygiene helps prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Protecting your teeth helps prevent dental trauma. Seeing your dentist regularly helps you discover any dental issues, and early treatment prevents them from becoming more serious. Best of all, proactive care requires only a few simple practices:
- Brush your teeth at least twice each day. Use a soft-bristled brush to protect your enamel and gums, and replace your brush every three months, or whenever it begins to fray. Use a fluoride toothpaste to reduce your risk of cavities. Don’t forget to brush the top of your tongue to remove plaque and food particles and to keep your breath fresh.
- Floss at least one a day. Flossing helps remove plaque and bacteria from between the teeth and near the gum line where brushes can’t reach. Dentist-recommended mouthwashes can also help remove plaque in those hard-to-reach spots.
- Eat a balanced, tooth-healthy diet. Proteins build bone and help the body repair damaged tissue. Dairy products provide calcium and vitamin D for stronger enamel. Fruits and vegetables contain vitamins and minerals that are essential for overall oral health. Foods that harm tooth enamel should be kept to a minimum, such as sugar-filled treats and acidic sodas and energy drinks.
- Talk to your dentist about dental sealants. During this easy, comfortable procedure, a thin plastic coating is applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth, protecting them from bacteria and plaque. Sealants are especially helpful for children, because it can be hard for them to brush the irregular surfaces of the molars thoroughly, but adults can benefit from sealants as well.
- Protect your teeth with custom-fitted appliances. Mouthguards should be used in any activity where contact with someone or something is a possibility. Nightguards protect teeth from the pressures of nightly tooth grinding. Retainers make sure teeth stay aligned while the bone and ligaments around the roots strengthen, stabilizing the teeth and holding them in place.
- Pay attention to your body’s signals. Tooth pain, swollen, red, receding, or bleeding gums, chronic bad breath, a sore that doesn’t go away—any symptom that causes you discomfort or concern should be evaluated promptly by your dentist or physician.
- Schedule regular checkups and cleanings. Most people benefit from a visit to the dentist every six months to make sure their teeth, gums, and mouth are healthy and to remove any accumulated plaque and tartar. Check with your dentist to discover the perfect schedule for your needs, and for other tips to keep your smile healthy and bright for a lifetime.