Smart snacks and other tips to improve your dental health

You’ve probably heard that sugary sodas and chewy candies aren’t good for your teeth.  These sweet treats are high in sugar, carbohydrates and acids that can harm teeth.  Sticky snacks are especially bad for oral health because these foods adhere to teeth and increase the chances of cavity development. And foods and drinks full of sugar and carbohydrates provide the “fuel” for tooth decay.

So how can you snack smart to promote good oral health?  Enjoy candy, sweets, sodas, breads, coffee, citrus fruits, sugars, pasta and alcohol in moderation. And when you do treat yourself, remember to brush and floss within 30 minutes of enjoying these items.  If you don’t have a toothbrush handy, thoroughly rinse your mouth with water to remove residue and debris, if possible.  Better snack food options include crunchy fruits and vegetables like apples, carrots, celery, sugar snap peas, peppers and other fresh produce. And instead of sipping on soda, alcohol or coffee, enjoy plenty of water, which helps to cleanse and refresh the mouth and is great for overall oral health!

Even if you’re munching and sipping smart, it’s important to develop a complete and thorough oral care routine. Don’t forget to:

Brush your teeth before going to bed:  It’s the end of a long day, and you’re tired. But don’t forget to brush and floss those pearly whites to rid your teeth of the germs and plaque that accumulate during the day. And don’t forget to brush again in the morning before you head out the door, too.

Brush your teeth correctly: Doing a poor job brushing is just as bad as not brushing at all.  Consider an electric tooth brush to help guide your brushing motions, or use gentle circular motions with your traditional tooth brush to remove plaque and food residue. And don’t forget to brush your tongue.  Plaque can build up there, too, leading to bad breath and other health concerns.

Brush your teeth with the correct toothpaste: Simply put, fluoride fights germs in your mouth that can lead to tooth decay by creating a protective barrier on your teeth.  Make sure that you choose a toothpaste that contains fluoride. There are many flavors available, and fluoride toothpastes also offer additional features such as whitening properties and other enhancements.

Floss your teeth, too: Flossing your teeth is just as important as brushing.  Think of flossing as brushing the surfaces in between your teeth where the toothbrush cannot reach.  Flossing removes debris in the mouth but also stimulates the gums, reduces oral inflammation and removes plaque buildup.  Flossing may be challenging for younger children or older adults, but there are a variety of over-the-counter flossing aids and special tools that can make the process easier.  Use what works best for you.

Consider using mouthwash: Mouthwash is not a substitute for brushing, but it does have benefits.  It can clean hard-to-reach areas, it re-mineralizes the mouth (which can strengthen teeth) and it can reduce the amount of acid in the mouth, creating an overall healthier oral environment.  Talk to your dentist to find the mouthwash that’s right for you. There are mouthwashes available in a variety of flavors, and some are designed specifically for children, those with sensitive teeth or other needs.

Visit your dentist at least twice a year for checkups: Even if you are snacking smart, brushing and flossing often and doing all of the right things to ensure good oral health, it’s still imperative to visit your dentist at least twice a year for thorough teeth cleaning and an overall dental checkup. Your dentist can help you maintain good oral health, but should a problem arise, early detection is key to handling dental issues correctly and with as little discomfort and expense as possible.

No matter what you’re munching on, remember to brush and floss frequently and visit your dentist regularly for checkups.  Maintaining good oral health requires careful attention and constant vigilance.  And today, many dentists are offering the latest technologies and advanced methods to ensure patients the most comfortable and anxiety-free oral care experience possible. You can even suggest new technologies to your favorite dentist if they don’t already have them in place. It is important to utilize a dental health care provider whose treatment philosophy will ensure patient comfort and thorough care. Going to the dentist doesn’t have to be an experience to dread. 

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