When it comes to the health of your smile, good oral hygiene is a must! At least 45 percent of Americans ages 65 and older have lost six or more teeth, and 20 percent have lost all of their natural teeth due to factors such as decay and gum disease. Good oral health habits should start early and continue throughout your lifetime. Here are five habits every dentist wishes to help ensure you and your teeth have a healthy, long-lasting relationship:
- Keep your teeth and gums clean. At least twice a day, brush gently with special attention to the gum line to rid your mouth of food and bacteria. Floss at least once a day. Replace your toothbrush every three to four months, or sooner if the bristles are frayed.
- Make regular trips to the dentist. Regular check-ups will help identify dental problems early on, when they can be more easily treated. Advanced oral health problems are often expensive and painful to correct.
- Put out that cigarette. Smokers are four times as likely as nonsmokers to develop periodontal disease. Using any form of tobacco – including pipes, cigars and smokeless tobacco – increases the risk of oral and throat cancers, and oral fungal infection, such as candidiasis. Also, most smokeless tobaccos contain sugar furthering your risk of oral health complications such as cavities.
- Eat healthy. Avoid snacking on sugary and starchy foods, especially between meals. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables will help to stimulate the flow of saliva, which re-mineralizes tooth surfaces and neutralizes bad bacteria that can cause cavities.
- Limit your alcohol intake. Heavy drinking dramatically increases the likelihood of developing oral and throat cancers.