Five Important Keys to Achieving Good Oral Health and (Eventually) Overall Health

woman smiling in a dental chair

If the eyes are the window to the soul, oral health is the window to one’s overall health. Such is the importance of maintaining good oral health. The mouth, just like other areas of the body, teems with bacteria. While most of these bacteria are harmless, some of them can enter the digestive and respiratory tracts and cause diseases. That’s why it’s important to practice good dental hygiene.

Maintaining good dental hygiene, however, transcends the necessity of looking good. It involves properly taking care of your teeth. It puts emphasis on the fact that poor dental hygiene results in tooth decay and gum disease. In the long run, these can affect your ability to eat and speak properly and cause pain and bad breath.

Here are five easy practices that you can consider to achieve good oral health:

1. Brush Your Teeth Twice a Day

Brushing your teeth is the simplest and most basic way to clean them. And let’s be clear that oral health begins with clean teeth. Brushing the teeth involves practicing a good technique and using the proper equipment. A good technique means not rushing the deed and gently brushing the teeth with circular motions to remove the plaque.

Position the toothbrush at a slight angle, and aim for the area where the teeth meet the gums. Also, use a soft-bristled toothbrush because hard bristles can hurt your gums. And make sure that you use toothpaste that contains fluoride because it defends the teeth against germs that cause tooth decay and provides a protective barrier for the teeth.

2. Floss at Least Once a Day

Do you brush or floss first? Always remember that flossing is as important as brushing in your quest to achieving good oral health. Flossing is essential because it can remove food particles that are stuck in the tight spaces between the teeth and under the gum line—those that can’t be removed by a toothbrush.

Take note: be gentle when you floss. Guide the floss between your teeth with a rubbing, up-and-down motion, and take it one tooth at a time. If you perform these steps carefully, it won’t really matter if you brush or floss first.

3. Schedule Regular Dental Checkups

dental checkup

Visit your dental clinic at least twice a year so that the dentist can examine your teeth and determine the procedure or treatment you need. Basically, regular checkups involve cleaning, looking out for cavities, and removing tartar. Depending on the severity of the damage to a tooth, the dentist may extract it, especially if it’s too far gone to be saved.

The dentist can also repair an injured tooth by sealing it with a dental filling or restore it using a dental crown. Aside from these treatments, there are clinics that offer teeth whitening treatments and orthodontic procedures for those who want to have a brighter and more confident smile.

4. Eat Healthy and Limit Your Sugar Intake

A 2019 study by the American Dental Association found that there is a bidirectional relationship between oral health and diet and nutrition. It highlighted that consumption of sugar increases the risk of developing dental caries; frequent consumption of acidic food increases the risk of erosive tooth wear.

For healthier teeth and gums, include nutrient-rich food in your diet. There should be a balanced intake of fruits and vegetables that are rich in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, and spinach; calcium-rich food such as low-fat or fat-free milk, cheese, and tofu; whole grains; and nuts. When grabbing a snack, opt for raw fruits and vegetables or popcorn, and stay away from sugary treats such as hard or sticky candy. After snacking, brush your teeth or rinse your mouth with water to get rid of food particles and keep cavities at bay.

5. Avoid Tobacco

Oral health is not spared from the negative effects of smoking. And there are countless studies that proved the relationship between smoking and periodontal disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smoking is one main cause of severe gum disease in the United States. The risk of destructive periodontal disease is from five to twenty-fold higher for a smoker than a non-smoker. In severe cases, periodontitis or gum disease can make the teeth fall out. Smokers also have substantially higher risk of getting oral cancer—the eighth most common type of cancer globally—than non-smokers.

Taking care of your oral health is an inexpensive investment in your overall health. And the ways to achieve it are simple: brushing your teeth at least twice a day using fluoride toothpaste, flossing daily, seeing your dentist for checkups and dental cleanings, eating healthy, keeping your sugar intake to a minimum, and avoiding tobacco.

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