Our Surrey, Abbotsford and Langley orthodontists chose to specialize in smiles because smiles are important on so many levels. Not only does a sparkling smile look fantastic and give you a boost in confidence, having healthy teeth and gums also affects your oral health and, in turn, your overall health. We always encourage our patients to prioritize their oral health so that when they finish their braces or Invisalign treatment, their smile looks and function at its absolute best. Additionally, teeth move most efficiently in a healthy oral environment, meaning caring for your smile will ensure your treatment stays on track. Even if you’re not currently straightening your teeth, maintaining your oral health is still essential. To help, we’re sharing eight tips for healthy teeth and gums.
1. Brush for a Full Two Minutes Every Brushing Session
One of the most important tips for healthy teeth and gums is to brush your teeth at least twice a day using a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. If you have braces or Invisalign, you’ll also need to brush after meals and snacks. However, even more important than the type of toothbrush you use or the kind of toothpaste you opt for, is brushing for the full two minutes. This is the time necessary to adequately ensure you’re removing plaque from all of the surfaces of each individual tooth.
2. Don’t Skip Flossing
If you don’t floss, you miss nearly 40% of your tooth surfaces. Flossing removes plaque from areas your toothbrush can’t reach and it’s crucial for keeping teeth and gums healthy. Floss once daily. We usually recommend flossing at night so that you can get rid of any food debris and plaque that has built up over the day. If you have braces, an orthodontic flosser or floss threader can save you a ton of time and effort. While a Waterpik, or water flosser, isn’t a replacement for flossing, you can use one in addition to your regular floss to give your oral hygiene routine a boost. For those in orthodontic treatment, a lot of patients find a Waterpik for braces is a useful extra tool for getting rid of food particles and plaque.
3. Wear a Mouthguard When Playing Sports
A large percentage of dental injuries, including losing teeth, occur during sports. Unfortunately, not all sports require the use of a mouthguard. However, it’s recommended that people wear mouthguards for any sports or physical activities that have a risk of collision, including skateboarding, basketball, baseball, hockey, soccer, football, tennis and wrestling, among others. Wearing a mouthguard is an affordable, simple way to protect your teeth and avoid the expense and pain of a dental injury. If you’re in braces, it’s even more important to wear a mouthguard because getting hit in the face can damage your appliance and the brackets and wires on your braces can injure the soft tissues of your mouth or cut an opponent.
4. Visit Your General Dentist Twice a Year
Regular dental exams and cleanings are another key to healthy teeth and gums. Your dentist has special tools and techniques that allow them to get rid of hardened plaque that you can’t remove on your own at home. Additionally, during check-ups, they can spot issues, such as tooth decay, early signs of gum disease, and oral cancer, while they’re less invasive to treat. Patients in orthodontic treatment will still have to continue to see their general dentist throughout their treatment.
5. Embrace Fluoride
Fluoride is a natural mineral that is able to strengthen teeth. It’s not just for little ones either. Even adults can benefit from fluoride. Use a fluoride toothpaste whenever you brush and if you’re at risk of tooth decay, you might also want to add a fluoride mouthwash to your oral hygiene routine. If necessary, you can ask your dentist about an in-office fluoride treatment as well.
6. Eat a Balanced Diet that Includes Food for Healthy Teeth
Eat a well-rounded diet that includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein, nuts and seeds, low-fat dairy and whole grains to get all of the nutrients your body needs, which will naturally improve the health of your teeth and gums. Additionally, try adding some food for healthy teeth to the mix. For example, raw spinach, like you’d have in a salad, has tons of gum-friendly vitamins. Additionally, it requires lots of chewing which stimulates saliva and scrubs the teeth clean. It can never hurt to incorporate tooth-friendly foods like this into your meal plan.
7. Limit Sugary Food and Drinks
The bacteria in your mouth feed on sugars and starches and release acids that eat away at your tooth enamel, which can eventually lead to cavities. That’s why no list of tips for healthy teeth and gums would be complete without a mention of enjoying sugary foods and drinks in moderation. When you do have something sweet, brush your teeth after or at least rinse your mouth out really well. Things like sports drinks, certain sodas and energy drinks are especially bad for your teeth because they’re acidic too. Not only are they introducing sugar into the mix but the acid weakens the tooth enamel making it even more susceptible to damage.
8. Have Your Smile Evaluated by an Orthodontist
If you haven’t already been to an orthodontist, you should have your smile assessed. It’s recommended children see an orthodontist by the age of seven. However, it’s never too late to schedule a visit. Orthodontics has benefits beyond the cosmetic. Straight teeth are easier to clean, which wards off tooth decay and gum disease. Additionally, when your teeth and jaw are aligned properly, it prevents uneven wear of the teeth, jaw pain, headaches and can make you less prone to dental injury.
There you have it, our top tips for healthy teeth and gums. If you’re ready to tackle the teeth-straightening process to bring out the best in your pearly whites, schedule a consultation at Aura Orthodontics today!