July 2, 2017
Dentists do fantastic work around the country every day, but the fact of the matter is that 99.9% of a person’s dental care actually happens at home with daily brushing and flossing. Basically, no matter how great your dentist might be, it’s really what you do at home that determines if you will have a healthy, beautiful, and problem-free smile or not. To make sure your smile stays bright and shining between dental appointments, here are a few simple every day tips directly from your dentist.
1. Set a timer when you brush
Pretty much everyone knows that they need to brush twice a day and floss at least once– that isn’t news. What may be unknown is that you actually need to brush for at least 2 minutes each time. This is the ideal amount of time to get the most out of brushing without overdoing it (any longer can potentially damage your teeth and gums). This may not seem like a long time, but it’s certainly hard to keep track of just in your head (especially for children!). When brushing your teeth, make things easy by setting a timer for yourself. If you have children, you can play a song for those two minutes to help inject a little fun into the routine.
2. Be sure to brush everywhere
You probably brush your teeth in the same order every night whether you realize it or not. Studies show that people develop this pattern when they are children, and they pretty much stick to it their entire life. This is why you can let your mind wander while you brush– it’s just automatic! The problem is that for many people, this pattern often misses certain areas in the mouth, leaving some teeth unclean.
When brushing, make sure you’re getting the front, back, and sides of every tooth. An easy way to do this is to divide your teeth into quadrants: upper left, upper right, lower left, lower right. Spend about 30 seconds cleaning each and you’ll be completely covered.
3. Always drink water first
Your teeth have two main enemies: sugar and acid. Unfortunately, some of the most popular drinks in the world, such as sodas and juices, are packed to the gills with both. If you’re thirsty, it’s always best to drink water first. That way, you can quench your thirst without exposing yourself to unnecessary sugar, and you’ll even give your teeth a nice rinse. Think of sugary drinks as candy, as in they should only be enjoyed every once in a while!
4. If you’re going to snack, snack healthy
Snacking or grazing throughout the day can be damaging to the teeth because this means they are constantly being exposed to sugar. This is because most snacks, like chips and candies, tend to be very rich in sugar. This constant barrage can really wear down your enamel and make you more likely to develop cavities. Snacking is alright, just be sure to choose healthy snacks like yogurt, cheese, apples, or carrots. Not only will these snacks save your smile from sugar, but many of them actually scrub your teeth and make them stronger as well!
These little habits can make a big difference for both you and your family’s smiles year after year. They’re quick, they’re easy, and they’ll ensure your regular dental checkups are nice and short! If any of them are new to you, try them for a couple of weeks and see if you don’t notice a difference. After a while, they’ll become automatic, and so will your beautiful smile.
About the Author
Dr. James Block is a third-generation family dentist based in Fremont, CA, and he loves giving patients simple tips they can use every day to keep their smiles healthy for a lifetime. He believes prevention is the most important part of dentistry because avoiding a dental problem is much easier than having to fix it later. He currently practices at James Block Dentistry, and he can be reached through his website or at (510) 793-0801.
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