It is a rare person who looks forward to their dental checkups. Between the scraping and the polishing and the possibility of learning you need a filling, is it any wonder most people would prefer to skip out on seeing the dentist? Even if you've dealt with dental problems before, you can still make a great impression on your dentist by making a few simple changes to your everyday life. Here's a look at how.
Brush Like You Mean It
You've no doubt heard this tip before, but it bears repeating. Brushing your teeth is really your first line of defense against tooth decay. What you may not know about brushing is that there's a right way to do it.
- Use fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride works by reducing the ability of plaque to build up on your teeth, and hardening tooth enamel.
- Use a soft-bristle brush. Medium and hard bristles are too abrasive on your enamel, and can actually accelerate tooth decay.
- Make sure you brush every surface of your teeth. Many people tend to focus on their chewing surfaces and the front of their teeth, neglecting the back.
- Hold your toothbrush at an angle toward your gums. Your gums benefit from gentle stimulation, and holding your brush at an angle toward your gums helps remove food particles and bacteria that build up just under the surface.
Eat Like It Matters
When they learn that tooth decay begins when acid erodes tooth enamel, most people assume they need to stay away from acidic foods in order to avoid tooth decay. Sucking on lemons all day can indeed damage tooth enamel, but since you're probably not doing that, what you really need to worry about is simple carbohydrates. The bacteria primarily responsible for tooth decay is called S. mutans. This nasty little bug lies in wait for the moment you ingest something with a high sugar content, or something with refined grains, such as white flour.
Tiny carbohydrate particles stick to your teeth and feed the bacteria. As a side effect, those bacteria excrete acid onto your teeth, which eats away at the enamel. That doesn't mean you can't eat anything sweet, or enjoy your morning toast or bagel. It simply means you need to be mindful of what you're eating and brush, or at the very least, rinse your mouth with mouthwash shortly after eating anything you could inadvertently share with S. mutans.
Play Outside Like You Love It
Your teeth are made up of calcium and a bunch of other stuff... but mainly calcium. Most Americans get plenty of calcium in their daily diets, but the vitamin responsible for allowing your body to absorb all that calcium eludes many. Up to three quarters of the teen and adult population of the U.S. is vitamin D deficient. There are supplements and dietary sources of vitamin D, but the easiest and most inexpensive way to get it is to get outside and have some fun. Striking a balance between getting enough vitamin D and preventing skin cancer is easy. Spend the first ten to fifteen minutes outside sans sunscreen, then slather your exposed skin. Aiming for daily outdoor activities helps keep your whole body, not just your teeth, healthy.
As you can see, these changes are easy to implement. You don't have to give up any of your favorite foods or spend loads of money on specialty products. Committing to keeping your teeth healthy will ingratiate you to your dentist, keep you from feeling anxious about your checkups, and prevent tooth decay and loss. Don't wait to start taking great care of your mouth.