A healthy body has to include a healthy mouth! These tips will help you keep your smile cavity-free for a lifetime
1. Brush your teeth regularly (and properly!)
Though it may sound obvious, the best way to keep cavities at bay is to keep your teeth clean. Brush your teeth at least twice a day, ideally after every meal-and be thorough! Dr. Harry Höediono, president of the Ontario Dental Association, says that while most people spend about a minute brushing their teeth, the ideal should be three times that. Brushing before bed is particularly important, since letting bacteria linger on your teeth overnight can allow enamel-damaging acid to form (ultimately leading to cavities). When you do brush, work carefully, from the gums to the tips of the teeth. “Don’t scrub!” says Dr. Höediono. “It’s best to use nice, gentle strokes. Scrubbing only gets at the food particles that are on the flat surfaces of your teeth. If you want good results, start at the gums.” Also be sure that you’re using fluorinated toothpaste, because fluoride helps makes your tooth enamel more resistant to decay.
2. Use the right brush
There’s no need for a fancy or expensive motorized toothbrush. Do make sure, however, that the brush you choose has soft bristles, and that you replace it every three months-or sooner if you’ve had a cold. “A soft brush promotes longer brushing times and will help you do a better job,” explains Dr. Höediono. “A hard brush can actually scratch the enamel.” Children should use brushes specifically designed for smaller hands and mouths, while older adults with dexterity problems may prefer a brush with a larger handle. After you’ve finished brushing, rinse your brush thoroughly and leave it where it can dry: a wet brush can breed bacteria.
3. Floss daily
According to Dr. Höediono, careful flossing is the key to good oral health. That’s because some of the worst cavities are the ones that form between the teeth. “I can’t stress enough how important it is,” he says, explaining that even with careful brushing, food particles can get caught between teeth-and that can cause bacteria to grow. Dr. Höediono recommends flossing before brushing in order to loosen debris that can then be whisked away with a brush. “If you floss just once a day, you will also help prevent gum disease,” he adds. If your gums bleed when you floss, keep at it – while they may be inflamed at first, regular flossing should help stem the bleeding. Dr. Höediono suggests making flossing a family activity by doing it together while watching television.
See part 2 for more tips