The New Year brings many healthy resolutions for kick-starting better habits. When it comes to oral care, small changes go a long way. Here are some tips for achieving your healthiest smile in 2016.
Daily Dental Care
Keeping teeth clean and reducing sugar intake are two of the best ways to improve oral health. Remember the following guidelines in addition to regular brushing:
- Angle your toothbrush against your teeth and brush gently right up to the gum line. Make sure you’re reaching the front, back, and chewing surfaces of all your teeth.
- Clean between the teeth with dental floss or an interdental cleaner.
- Keep a toothbrush and floss with you on the go: at work, in your gym bag, or anyplace that is convenient. Try brushing, or at least rinsing with water, after meals and snacks throughout the day.
- If you’re too rushed or too tired to floss in the morning or before bed, set a different time such as after lunch to floss on a regular basis.
- Add a fluoride rinse before bed. Remember to try not to drink water for 30 minutes after the rinse.
- Drink more water instead of juice or pop. Cutting down on sugary drinks and snacks reduces bacteria in the mouth.
- Consider investing in an electric toothbrush that rotates or pulses for best brushing results.
- Keep your tooth brush fresh: Let it air dry between uses and replace your tooth brush or electric brush head every 3 – 4 months.
- Book a cleaning or schedule a couple of dental appointments in advance. Speak to your family dentist about any concerns or goals you have.
Teeth Whitening and Cosmetic Dental Treatments
Many patients wonder whether at home bleaching treatments are safe to enhance their smile or to brighten teeth before a special event. Keep in mind that at home whitening is not a solution for everyone.
- Use bleach strips for minor yellow stains. For significant discolouration, or staining that is brown or grey, speak to your family dentist for a customized recommendation.
- To prevent stains from returning, make sure to avoid tobacco and cigarettes. Coffee, red wine, and tea are also known for contributing to stains, but tobacco is the worst culprit.
- Don’t use more than one box of at home treatment at a time. Treatment beyond the length of use that is recommended on the package should always be supervised by your dentist.
- Use a toothpaste for sensitive teeth during treatment. Bleaching agents are known to cause temporary tooth sensitivity.
- If eating or drinking immediately after brushing, coat the teeth with a spoonful of plain yogurt or a sip of milk to restore and protect the enamel from acid wear.
Habits to Avoid
In addition to keeping good habits, there are a few habits that can damage the teeth or jaw. Things to avoid include:
- Biting nails.
- Chewing ice or hard candy.
- Grinding teeth.
- Brushing too hard or with a firm toothbrush.
- Using your teeth to break or tear packaging.
To encourage good habits, try discussing with a partner so you can help keep each other on track. Set yourself small reminders and rewards, such as a daily phone alarm or a new water bottle to take with you on the go. Visit our North Vancouver dental office if you have any concerns or questions.