We’re once again at that time of year when everyone is bound and determined to improve their lives and post lists of things they will do or do better this coming year. Unfortunately, few people stick to those resolutions past two months, at the most.
At Riverdale Dental Arts, Dr. Sheldon Kupferman and his staff know that dental issues are probably not high on your list of things to think about during the holiday season, but they’re adamant that you should make — and stick to — a number of habits that will improve your dental health moving forward. Here’s what they have to say.
Development of dental caries
Dental caries (cavities) are decayed areas of your teeth that develop because bacteria that break down food particles produce acid as a byproduct, which eats away at the tooth’s hard enamel covering. Though these caries are mostly preventable, they’re still the most common chronic disease for children ages 6-11 and adolescents ages 12-19. In fact, they’re four times more prevalent than asthma among those 14-17 years old. In the over-20 crowd, nine out of 10 adults have some degree of tooth root decay.
Add these dental health habits to your New Year’s resolutions
Here are five good ways you can improve your dental hygiene.
1. Brush twice a day
Always use a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. The soft bristles won’t irritate your gums, and the fluoride in the toothpaste helps remineralize your teeth.
Hold your toothbrush at about a 45-degree angle, aiming the bristles at where your teeth and gums meet. Brush each tooth gently but completely with circular back-and-forth motions.
Brush for at least 30 seconds per quadrant, remembering to brush all the surfaces: outside, inside, and chewing. And don’t forget about your tongue, which also harbors bacteria. Use either the toothbrush or, better yet, a plastic tongue scraper to ensure it’s clean.
2. Floss once a day
A toothbrush is a great tool, but it can’t reach bacteria hiding in the tight spaces between teeth and under the gum line. That’s why you also need to floss.
Use floss generously, breaking off about 18 inches at a time. Wind most of it around one of your middle fingers and the remainder around the other middle finger. Grip it tightly between your thumbs and forefingers.
Use a rubbing motion to guide the floss gently between your teeth — snapping it down into your gums can injure the gum tissue. When the floss reaches the gum, make a “C” shape around the side of one tooth, and rub the floss up and down; then do the same thing with the side of the other tooth.
Each time you advance to the next tooth, unwind fresh floss so you don’t recontaminate the area. When you’re finished, rinse your mouth with water to remove all the debris the floss pulled out.
3. Use a dental rinse
Some dental rinses are meant to dislodge plaque before you brush; others are for the final rinse after you’ve brushed and flossed. Most rinses reduce the acid level in the mouth; clean hard-to-brush areas, particularly in and around the gums; and remineralize the teeth with fluoride. OTC dental rinses are usually fine, but you can ask Dr. Kupferman if he prefers you use a prescription variety.
4. Drink lots of water
Water is necessary for life to exist; it’s also necessary for good oral health. Not only does drinking more water help you stay hydrated, but water also functions like saliva does in the mouth — it rinses away bacteria and food particles before they can form a sticky plaque on the teeth and gums.
5. See your dentist twice a year
Your home regimen is crucial to maintaining good oral hygiene, but there’s nothing quite as good as a professional cleaning to ensure all the bad stuff’s been washed away. In addition, at your six-month appointment, Dr. Kupferman checks for signs of tooth decay and early gum disease, as well as for oral cancer. The goal is always to catch problems early on, which makes them easier, less painful, and less expensive to treat.
Want to learn more about what you can do for your oral health? Riverdale Dental Arts, located in the Bronx, New York, can help. Call our office at 718-548-1148 to set up an evaluation, or book online with us today.