Did you know that your oral health is largely connected to your overall health and well-being? Terry Norris, DMD, the lead consulting dentist for Paramount Dental, shares common oral hygiene mistakes and what you can do to correct them to have better oral and overall health.
1. Not maintaining good oral hygiene.
The worst mistake that you can make for your mouth is poor oral hygiene. Follow these recommendations daily for better oral health:
- Brush regularly. Brush your teeth for at least two minutes at least twice a day – or even better, within 20 minutes of eating. Use a smooth or soft toothbrush with an American Dental Association (ADA) approved toothpaste with fluoride.
- Floss daily. Floss your teeth at least once a day. Flossing is just as important as brushing as it gets little pieces of food unstuck from between your teeth and removes plaque and bacteria that cause decay and periodontitis (gum disease).
- Use mouthwash. Consider finishing your oral hygiene routine with fluorinated mouthwash. Mouthwash can help clean areas in and around the gums and re-mineralize the teeth. Avoid alcohol-based mouthwashes as they dry out the mouth, which may lead to tooth decay.
- Drink water. Water is the best beverage for keeping your mouth healthy and hydrated. If you are looking for a drink other than water, avoid acidic beverages such as citrus juices, soft drinks and wine. The acid in the beverages can etch, or roughen up, the enamel. When the enamel gets etched, it collects plaque and bacteria easier, which causes the enamel to be eroded, resulting in tooth decay.
2. Not having regular dental check-ups.
See your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings. You should be seeing the dentist every six months so that any issues can be caught early and your teeth can be cleaned by a professional.
3. Not following up with recommended treatment.
It is important that you follow up with any treatment recommended by your dentist. It is best to receive treatment early on, even if it is not hurting yet.
“If you catch a cavity when it is small, it’s easier to treat and results in a smaller filling and less trauma. If you put off recommended dental treatment until it hurts, you’re going to end up going through a lot more in the long run,” Dr. Norris shares.
4. Waiting until it hurts to see a dentist.
Don’t wait until you are experiencing pain to see the dentist. If you are going to your dentist for regular six-month checkups, they may be able to catch an issue, such as a small cavity or gum recession, before you experience any pain. The dentist may be able to recommend proactive oral health practices to resolve the issue or provide treatment before the issue worsens.
5. Having teeth removed and/or not replacing missing teeth.
Keep your teeth whenever possible – root canals and crowns work and allow you to keep your original teeth. If you have a missing or removed tooth, it is important to have a dental implant made to replace the tooth. Missing teeth can lead to chewing problems or temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ).
Your oral health is more connected to your overall health and well-being than you may think. Periodontitis (gum disease) can lead to cardiovascular disease or stroke, the bacteria associated with periodontitis may be associated with the development of Alzheimer’s disease, and tooth loss can leave lasting damage on your jaw function and ability to chew.
“The healthier the mouth, the healthier the body. The better that we care for our mouth and reduce that bacteria, the better our systemic health will be,” Dr. Norris shares. Often, the damage cannot be reversed after it is done. However, it can be stopped or slowed from progressing.
It’s not too late to correct poor habits. Begin brushing and flossing regularly, schedule regular checkups, replace any missing teeth and evaluate your diet.