Healthy Smile, Healthy Life: Oral Hygiene Basics for a Lifetime of Dental (and Overall) Wellness

Better oral hygiene for a lifetime of health.

Oral Hygiene for Overall Health

Oral hygiene is key to maintaining excellent oral health and a bright, confident smile. But did you know your oral health is closely linked to your overall health and well-being as well? Research has shown that there is a definite correlation between poor oral hygiene and health complications like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and endocarditis, just to name a few. 

So today we’re covering some crucial oral hygiene basics, as well as dental treatments, that will help you maintain a lifetime of dental health and encourage systemic health at the same time.

The Power of Daily Brushing

After you eat, the bacteria in your mouth break down the sugar left behind, creating acid that eats away at your tooth enamel. These bacterial colonies stick to your teeth as a clear film called plaque. Brushing your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes using a fluoride toothpaste helps prevent cavities and gum disease by removing plaque and strengthening the enamel.

To brush your teeth correctly, place your brush at a 45-degree angle toward the gumline and move gently back and forth over each tooth, front and back. Don’t forget the chewing surfaces! Be sure to choose a toothbrush with soft bristles, which are gentler on your gums and teeth.

The Importance of Flossing

Flossing helps remove any food particles caught between your teeth. It also helps remove plaque below the gumline and prevents it from hardening into tartar. 

It’s important to floss at least once per day. Hold the floss between your index fingers and thumbs, then insert it between the teeth and form a C shape around one tooth. Use a gentle up-and-down motion to remove plaque, being sure to go slightly below the gumline before moving to the next tooth.

The right kind of floss for you will depend on your unique needs. Here are the most common types:

  • Unwaxed floss
  • Waxed floss
  • Polytetrafluorethylene (PTFE) floss
  • Dental tape
  • Specialty floss

Unwaxed floss is made from nylon. It fits well between teeth but is prone to shredding. Waxed floss is also made from nylon but includes a thin wax coating that helps prevent it from breaking or shredding.

PTFE floss is made from a strong material that’s less likely to break, making it great for fitting crowded teeth. Dental tape, on the other hand, is a better choice for people with gaps, as it’s flatter and broader than standard floss. 

People with braces or dental bridges will benefit from specialty floss. This type usually comes in precut strips and has three sections. The first section is stiffer so you can easily thread the floss beneath the braces or bridge. The yarnlike middle section is fluffier for dislodging debris. And finally, the end is a normal waxed segment, perfect for hugging the side of each tooth as normal before you remove the strand altogether.

Tongue Cleaning: The Unsung Hero of Oral Wellness

Tongue cleaning is a great additional oral hygiene step to help you remove odor-causing bacteria and avoid bad breath.

You can simply brush your tongue with your toothbrush, or you can opt for a tongue-cleaning tool. Some tongue cleaners are shaped like a U, while others are shaped more like a spoon. To use a tongue cleaner, place the rounded end at the back of the tongue and gently pull it forward.

How Diet and Lifestyle Impact Your Oral Health

Diet plays a big role in both oral and overall health. High-sugar foods put your teeth at risk because they feed the bacteria that cause plaque. Highly acidic foods are another issue as they wear down the enamel and make it more susceptible to cavities. 

One way to protect your teeth is to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Staying hydrated is good for your entire body, including your teeth, especially if the water has fluoride in it. Water washes away food residue and dilutes harmful acids that can damage enamel. 

But the benefits of a well-rounded diet don’t stop there. Aside from the oral health implications, a nutrient-rich diet also lowers your risks of obesity, heart disease, and cancer.

No conversation on oral health is complete without mentioning the effects of tobacco. Smoking promotes the formation of dental plaque and is a major risk factor for gum disease, diabetes, cancer, and COPD, among others. It also weakens your immune system, making it more difficult to heal if you get an infection. So if you smoke, the best thing you can do is to stop. Speak with your dentist or family physician about smoking cessation resources today.

Cosmetic Dentistry and Dental Wellness

If you aren’t happy with how your teeth look, you may feel self-conscious in social settings. Through cosmetic dentistry, you can access the best teeth whitening options available and enjoy a healthy, beautiful smile. 

For chips, cracks, or discoloration, porcelain veneers are a great option. Essentially, veneers are thin porcelain coverings that your dentist cements over the front of one or more teeth. This creates a uniform appearance and effectively hides any cosmetic imperfections for a bright, white smile.

Bonding is another popular cosmetic dental treatment. This process uses tooth-colored composite resin material to fill gaps and cover discoloration in one visit.

Restoring confidence in your smile can lower stress, enhance your mood, and even boost your immune system!

Repairing Damage and Maintaining Dental Health

Restorative dentistry is the solution for fixing extensive tooth damage or missing teeth. It encompasses treatments such as fillings, crowns, bridges, and dental implants.

For example, crowns cover your existing teeth to protect them from further damage, while dental implants act as replacements for missing teeth. In the case of a nonrestorable tooth, your dentist will recommend an extraction and discuss appropriate replacement options.

Improve your smile with oral hygiene and the help of the best dentist in Buffalo, Minnesota.

Good oral hygiene habits help protect your entire body, not just your teeth. By paying attention to how you brush and floss, attending your preventive cleanings and evaluations, and structuring your lifestyle to promote oral health, you can keep your teeth looking their best.

If you have dental concerns, take advantage of the restorative services we offer at Dental Care Associates of Buffalo. Schedule your dental evaluation today to explore your options and regain your confident smile.

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