Your teeth won’t get healthier on their own
If the splash of ice-cold water against your pearly whites makes you wince, or you can comfortably chew on only one side of your mouth, you shouldn’t ignore it. You might delay going to a dentist because you’re uneasy about what they’ll say or how much it will cost, but letting it go will only make it worse. “Many dental health problems are unlikely to get better on their own,” says board certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon J. Michael Ray, DDS. “You can avoid most unpleasant experiences in the dental office by seeking care as soon as possible,” alleviating unnecessary pain (and often great expense) by taking care of any problems before they get out of hand. Here are 10 secrets for keeping your teeth white and healthy.
You need to brush more than your teeth
No judgement if you still hum the “Happy Birthday” tune twice a day when you brush. But big judgement (in a kind way, of course) from your dentist if you’re only brushing those babies and forgetting about the rest of your mouth. Most of the time, merely scrubbing your molars won’t prevent cavities or infections. You have to brush your tongue, too. “All the little bumps on the top of your tongue are like a shag carpeting collecting bacteria and debris,” explains dentist Idelle S. Brand, DDS. “If you only brush your teeth and not your tongue, all the germs on your tongue will go right back onto your teeth and gums as soon as you finish brushing your teeth.” And though some recent stories argued that flossing was a waste of time, New York City cosmetic dentist, Timothy Chase, DDS begs to differ. “Cleaning between their teeth is mandatory, despite what the recent ‘fake news’ stories put out there. Using floss or interdental cleaners is just as important to your dental health as brushing your teeth,” he notes. Here’s how you could be brushing your teeth all wrong.
Remember oral health isn’t just about teeth
Bad oral health can result in way more than having a root canal or filling. “Every day there is news that links oral health to overall body health, specifically gum disease to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and even Alzheimer’s,” Dr. Chase explains. “Skipping regular dental appointments can lead to bigger problems than just bad breath or cavities; It could cause real health problems down the road.” Dentists lament the misconception that they’re just “tooth mechanics.” “In reality, we are doctors of the mouth, bridging the connection between oral health and systemic health,” says Dr. Brand. In fact, dentists often find these health issues first.