Dental Health Tips For Your Whole Family

Brush, floss, rinse, repeat. Your dental hygiene routine may not be the most thrilling part of your day, but it’s essential for keeping your pearly whites strong and, well, white!

These dental tips for the whole family are sure to keep all of you smiling:

  1. Start kids early and make it fun. Make tooth-brushing a fun experience for kids rather than a nagging chore. Consider designing a daily “progress chart” with stickers as rewards, creating a silly tooth-brushing song or dance, or having them pick out their own fun, colorful new toothbrush every 3-4 months to keep them on track.
  2. Cut the sugar. The results are in — sugar is the only cause of tooth decay. While it may be unrealistic to give up refined sugar entirely, cutting way back on it will improve every aspect of your health. For healthy teeth and gums (and the whole you), your diet should consist of mostly whole, unprocessed foods. Apples and broccoli in particular act as natural tooth scrubbers, removing harmful bacteria as you eat them.
  3. Chew gum or rinse with water after every meal. Chewing (sugarless) gum after meals can increase the flow of saliva, which cuts plaque acid and reduces the chance of tooth decay. Don’t have any gum? Rinsing your mouth out with plain old water removes loose food particles that could otherwise stick to your teeth and cause decay.
  4. Switch to an electric toothbrush. The rotating, oscillating movement of the electric toothbrush head removes plaque from your teeth far more effectively than a regular toothbrush. Electric toothbrushes can be an investment up front, but they are well worth the dental care savings in the long-run. If you need a cheaper option, consider starting out with a battery-operated toothbrush from the drugstore. They aren’t as effective as electric toothbrushes, but still clean better than a standard toothbrush.
  5. Brush and floss twice a day. Most people know to brush their teeth twice a day, but flossing? Not so much. It’s like pulling teeth (pun totally intended) to get most people to floss once a day, let alone twice. But flossing is critical for removing harmful bacteria between the teeth. It is also the number one way to stave off periodontal disease — the painful recession of the gums that can leave roots exposed. Try dental floss picks for quick and easy flossing anytime, anywhere.
  6. Use mouthwash. You’ve flossed and brushed… now rinse! Mouthwash isn’t just about freshening breath; think of it like an antiseptic for your mouth. It cleans out any remaining bacteria leftover from flossing and brushing, and can further prevent tartar, plaque, and gingivitis.
  7. Drink red wine. Wait, what? Yes, it’s true. Studies have shown that one glass of red wine per day isn’t just good for your heart — red wine has also been linked with helping to prevent tooth decay. Italian researchers isolated chemicals in red wine called proanthocyanidins that are capable of repelling the harmful bacteria causing tooth decay. Salut!
  8. Don’t overdo the whitening. Most people want whiter teeth, but excessive whitening routines can be harmful, causing a translucent appearance in teeth, gum irritation, loss of protective tooth enamel, or increased sensitivity. OTC tooth-whitener kits are really only designed to remove minor stains and discoloration, which can lead to harmful overuse if you aren’t seeing the results you want. If you need help with correcting major discoloration, talk to your dentist about safe, professional teeth-whitening options.
  9. Beware of grinding. If you’re waking up to an aching jaw or sensitive teeth, that could be a sign that you’re grinding your teeth while asleep. Teeth grinding puts you at increased risk for chipping and breaking teeth, as well as lockjaw and even migraines. A routine dental exam will usually reveal whether or not you grind your teeth. If so, your dentist can recommend a mouthguard to wear at night and protect your chompers.

For more great health tips, be sure to browse Scripps Affiliated Medical Groups’ articles that are focused on your family’s health, well-being, and happiness.

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