From Halloween candy to Thanksgiving pumpkin pie, the autumn holiday season and all its wonderful sugary treats are fast approaching. This can be a treacherous time for your smile, however, as the bacteria in your mouth feeds on all that sugar and produces acids that harm your teeth. So, what can you do? October is National Dental Hygiene Month, so there is no better time than now to review preventive oral care steps to maintain a healthy smile. Here are 5 key dental hygiene tips in Kenner to prevent tooth decay over the coming holidays.
Tip #1: Use Proper Brushing Technique
Most people know that brushing their teeth every day is an important part of maintaining a healthy smile. Pretty basic, right? However, how you brush is vital to removing harmful bacteria from your mouth. When you clean your teeth in the morning and at night, be sure to:
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush
- Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gums
- Brush gently using short back-and-forth strokes
- Brush the outer, inner and chewing surfaces of your teeth
- Brush for a full two minutes each time
Tip #2: Floss Daily
Even if you brush diligently, tiny bits of food can still remain lodged in those hard-to-reach places between teeth. Here are some points to remember when flossing daily:
- Wrap the floss around your middle fingers and hold it tautly between your thumb and index fingers
- Slide the floss gently up and down between teeth, making sure to go beneath the gumline
- Use clean sections of floss as you go from tooth to tooth
- Never force the floss up or down, as this may injure your gums
Tip #3: Rinse Away Bacteria
While not a replacement for brushing and flossing, rinsing daily with a non-alcoholic mouthwash can help eliminate lingering biofilm and bacteria from your mouth. Swish the product in your mouth for 30 seconds or one minute – as advised on the product label – before spitting it out.
Tip #4: Chew Sugar-free Gum
Research has shown that chewing gum for 20 minutes following meals increases the flow of saliva, which washes away bits of food and neutralizes acids produced by bacteria in the mouth. Just be sure to always buy the sugar-free variety!
Tip #5: Visit a Dentist Every Six Months
Lastly, it is important to visit your dentist every six months for a routine dental exam and cleaning. Only a dental professional can remove plaque that has hardened into tartar from your teeth. Moreover, during every regular checkup, your dentist will carefully examine your teeth, mouth and neck for signs of trouble. Catching oral health problems – including serious conditions such as oral cancer – early on is critical to successfully treating them.
Knowing how to prevent tooth decay and maintain a healthy smile will hopefully allow you to enjoy the holidays – and all the holiday treats – with less stress this year. For more oral care tips, contact your local dentist today!
About the Author
A proud Louisiana State University graduate, Dr. Kerry Plaisance has helped local families achieve and maintain healthy smiles for over 16 years and counting. His outstanding efforts have been recognized by New Orleans Magazine, which has named Dr. Plaisance a Top Dentist for over a decade. Learn more preventive oral care tips by visiting the deJong and Plaisance Family Dentistry website or by calling 504-738-5171.