You’ll need to see the dentist at least once every six months for a healthy and beautiful smile. However, that’s not the end of caring for your smile. There are plenty of practices you should follow to take care of your smile outside of the dentist’s office. Relying solely on routine cleanings will leave you dealing with cavities, gum disease, and more. If you’re not sure how to best care for your smile on your own, it’s easy to learn the skills needed at any age. The more you take care of your smile year-round, the shorter each visit will be to our team here at Eastgate Dental Excellence.
Avoid Hard, Sticky, and Chewy Foods
Watching what you eat goes a long way in protecting your teeth. First, start by reducing the chances of mechanical damage by staying away from very hard, sticky, or chewy foods. Caramels and similar snacks are particularly damaging for anyone with dental work. Even a single filling can become damaged and lead to continuing tooth decay if you continue enjoying sticky and chewy foods. If the food is difficult to chew or bite, it’s likely not great for the health of your smile.
For general tooth care, limit how much sugar and acidic food you consume as well. If you decide to indulge in a sweet treat or an acidic dish, try rinsing your mouth out with plain water afterward to limit the effect. Sugar that remains in the mouth encourages an acidic environment in which cavity-causing bacteria can thrive. Always try to reset the pH balance in your mouth after a meal by rinsing or brushing if at all possible.
Wear Any Guards or Retainers
If your dentist or orthodontist has provided you with specialty dental gear, please use it as directed. Retainers aren’t the most stylish accessory, but they go a long way in maintaining the proper alignment of your teeth. Without routine use of a retainer, your teeth can return to their original positions or slide into new arrangements that cause bite issues and damage the surfaces.
Night guards and athletic mouthguards should also be used as directed by the dentist. Skipping the use of these guards even a few times can lead to unnecessary wear and tear on the teeth, traumatic injuries, or jaw pain. If the mouth guard is uncomfortable, have it adjusted or invest in a new custom guard for a better fit.
Practice Better Brushing Habits
Most people learn about brushing as a child and tend to forget important details by adulthood. Ask your dentist to demonstrate the correct angle and circular movements for getting all surfaces of the teeth clean. Brush at least twice a day, but preferably after each meal to remove food debris that causes cavities and bad breath. Don’t forget to brush your tongue as well. Use a soft-bristled brush and ADA-approved toothpaste to ensure you’re getting your teeth as clean as possible without risking damage or inflammation.
If you struggle with brushing, consider an electric toothbrush recommended by our dentists here at Eastgate Dental Excellence. We can help guide you to a device that reduces the effort required to brush or helps with a sensitive gag reflex. If it’s just the act of brushing you’re forgetting, try setting reminders on your phone or other devices until you get into the habit of remembering on your own. There are even brushing apps that sync with some toothbrushes to help keep track of your good habits.
Floss with Care
Flossing is an important dental care step that many people avoid even if they brush correctly. While you do need to floss once a day to clean food particles out and stimulate the gum tissue, you also need to do it with care. It’s easy to snag most floss products under or around dental work like crowns and veneers. If a piece of floss gets stuck between two tightly packed teeth, it may need the dentist’s touch to come loose again. Use flossing products designed for patients with dental work if it’s an applicable concern for you.
For tight teeth gaps, try a wide ribbon floss that slips through easily and better resists fraying and tearing. Our dental team can also help solve any flossing concerns you might have so you can floss with confidence again.
Watch What You Drink
What you eat affects your tooth health, but so does what you choose to drink. Since many people sip drinks all day rather than just at meal times there’s also a greater chance of damage from the wrong drinks. Acidic and sugary drinks are a problem because they work to weaken enamel while encouraging bacteria to thrive.
If you must drink coffee or can’t go without a morning glass of orange juice, keep plain water on hand for rinsing after each sip. It’s best to enjoy these acidic or sugary drinks in one sitting and then brush well. Choosing water over soda or juice for your everyday drink will make a big difference in your smile. Not only will you reduce the chances of tooth decay, but you’ll also experience less staining and discoloration over time.
Seek Smoking Cessation Therapy
Smoking is one of the biggest threats to overall oral health. The process of inhaling the smoke dries out the mouth, weakens gum health, and discolors the teeth. Even vaping and using other types of tobacco products still puts your teeth at risk. Oral cancer is the biggest risk, but gum recession and tooth discoloration are also serious issues affecting smokers. Getting free from the smoking or vaping habit will keep you looking younger as well by reducing the formation of lines around the lips.