How to Maintain Your Oral Health During the Summer
At Willow Springs Dentistry, we offer our patients all kinds of dental services from cosmetic dentistry to full mouth reconstruction, and everything in between. But the most common service we provide is preventative care. Preventative care involves the routine services such as exams and cleanings that keep your smile healthy. If you regularly visit the dentist, you may be thinking ‘great, I’m covered!’, but that isn’t exactly the case. While visiting your dentist is an important part of preventative care, it’s also important you make preventative care a priority at home by establishing a consistent oral hygiene routine. In order to keep both your oral health and your overall health in checks, constant maintenance is needed both at the office and at home. The carefree spirit that summer often brings along with the extra ice cream we’re sure everyone is consuming, we thought we’d help you keep your oral hygiene top of mind by putting together a quick list to cover the basics!
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate. (Then Hydrate Some More)
Everyone knows it’s important to keep hydrated on those sweltering hot summer days, but did you know drinking lots of water is just as important when thinking about your oral health and hygiene? Think about the amount of sugar that’s discretely coating your teeth after that trip to the ice cream shop down the street. When it’s not possible, or even just inconvenient to get in a quick brush, drinking water can play a temporary cleansing role by rinsing away any food and drink residue left on your teeth. Keeping yourself hydrated also helps fight dry mouth, the condition of not having enough saliva to keep the mouth wet. This is important because dry mouth increases the risk for tooth decay and fungal infections in the mouth. Why you ask? Well, because saliva helps keep harmful germs in check! And Drinking plenty of water is a great way to avoid this. (National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, 2023).
Brush Your Teeth
That’s right, make sure you’re brushing your teeth both in the morning and at night! When you sleep, mouth bacteria tend to multiply throughout the night. This is the cause of what is often referred to as ‘morning breath’ and it is also the reason it’s so important to brush your teeth every morning; get rid of that bad bacteria! Brushing before bed is just as important as it helps clean your teeth and mouth, ridding it of any build up or left over food residue lingering from throughout the day. Not only should you be brushing your teeth twice a day, but it’s important to ensure you are brushing properly. It may seem simple, but it’s never a bad idea to brush up (pun intended) on the American Dental Association’s tips for properly brushing your teeth:
- When brushing, your toothbrush should be at a 45-degree angle to the gums.
- Move your toothbrush back and forth in short (tooth-wide), gentle strokes.
- Brush all surface of the teeth; the outer, the inner, and the chewing surfaces.
- To reach the inside surfaces of your front teeth, tilt the brush vertically and make several up and down strokes.
- Repeat these brushing habits twice daily for two minutes each time.
Don’t Neglect Your Tongue!
When talking about oral hygiene, having good habits for keeping your tongue clean is just as important as your teeth. Scraping and/or brushing your tongue after each time you brush your teeth helps to get rid of that stubborn bacteria that has building up on the surface of your tongue. If you neglect cleaning your tongue, the bacteria will continue to build resulting in bad breath (which no one wants) or even tooth decay.
The best choice for toothpaste type is to brush with a fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride helps to strengthen your enamel which makes your teeth better resistant to tooth decay, and is known to help with the prevention of cavities overall. If you’re unsure if your toothpaste contains fluoride, we always direct our patient’s to the American Dental Association’s website for a list of ADA accepted fluoride toothpastes.
Floss Once a Day
Listen, we know there aren’t many people out there who enjoy flossing, but we promise we wouldn’t insist you do it once a day if it weren’t so important to your dental health and hygiene! Flossing helps remove plaque. Why is this important? Because plaque is filled with bacteria that loves to feed on the leftover bits of food in your mouth, releasing an acid that slowly eats away at the outer shell of your teeth! If plaque isn’t cleaned, over time not only will it cause cavities, but it will harden, turning into plaque and causing gum disease. Tartar is something you want to avoid at all costs as once it forms, it can’t simply be brushed away, it will need to be removed by your dentist. So save your future self the hassle, and add flossing to your daily dental hygiene routine!
Get a New Toothbrush
Brushing your teeth twice a day is great…but have you thought about how much bacteria your toothbrush has had to clean up?! To ensure you’re using a clean toothbrush to clean your teeth, make sure you’re replacing your toothbrush every three to four months. If you’re not the best at keeping track of that kind of thing, a good rule of thumb is to get a new toothbrush when the bristles of your current toothbrush are beginning to fray.
Visit the Dentist!
As we mentioned earlier, preventative care is a large part of what we do here at Willow Springs Dentistry. We recommend our patients give us a visit twice a year for a cleaning and an exam that could allow for early identification of serious oral health problems! Maintaining regular dental appointments is one of the best ways to avoid having to deal with the headache and extra cost that may come from dealing with more serious oral health problems down the road. Our team is committed to providing the best care while ensuring your comfort, so give us a call, or schedule an appointment today to continue your journey to a happy, healthy smile!