Since the pandemic, dentists have been seeing a greater increase of oral problems, especially for those individuals who must wear a mask for hours every day. As the virus continues to mutate, making mask-wearing a necessity for some essential workers and people in high-risk groups, it is expected that these individuals will continue to be at a higher risk for dental problems unless they take measures to decrease the risk. Everyone can increase their level of oral health by making a few changes to their usual routine. You may be surprised at some of these simple habits that will help you maintain healthy teeth and gums.
Toss That Old Toothbrush
A toothbrush can become like an old, comfortable pair of shoes. You use it so long it gets raggedy and grungy looking, but it is still comfortable. You may be surprised to learn that dentists and toothbrush manufacturers recommend that, ideally, your toothbrush should be replaced every three to four months. Yes, that would mean you are using about three or four new toothbrushes every year. You may even need to get a new brush sooner. But why?
Failing to replace an old toothbrush or electronic toothbrush head can have a negative impact on your dental health. Worn out toothbrushes can also spread infection. They are meant to eliminate the bacteria that cause gum disease and cavities. They are also used to stop bad breath. Because these instruments are used to remove bacteria, you can be assured that bacteria are on them. Strep throat and other bacterial and viral infections are of a concern with old toothbrushes.
If you or a family member have been sick, replacing the toothbrush after recovery is a good idea. This way you ensure that germs will not get passed on and reinfection is less likely to occur. It is especially important to monitor the use of your child’s toothbrush. Since everyone has different types of bacteria in the mouth, it is also important to make sure that no one uses your toothbrush by mistake. If that should happen, be sure to toss it and get a new one.
Clean, straight bristles on your toothbrush will keep your gums and teeth healthy. If you are brushing your teeth the recommended two minutes twice a day, you should be able to maintain a healthy mouth and fresh breath. Using your toothbrush correctly generally provides about three to four months of effective service.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
When the weather is warm, drinking more fluids feels right and is really a necessity. What you may not know is that no matter what the weather, hydration is an important factor in maintaining oral health. This is particularly true for those who must wear a mask for hours on end.
Did you know that your body is about 60% water? In fact, water is essential for every system of the body. Drinking water helps the body distribute healthy nutrients, gets rid of waste, keeps your skin looking healthy and keeps your muscles moving smoothly. It also helps keep your teeth and gums healthy.
Fluoridated water helps fight cavities. Drinking water that has fluoride is one of the easiest ways to help fight off cavities. Studies have found that cities with fluoridated water have a much lower incidence of tooth decay in children than those without it.
Regardless of whether your water is fluoridated or not, drinking water helps keep your mouth clean. The mouth is full of harmful bacteria that cause cavities. These bacteria feed on sugars left in the mouth and they produce the acids that eat away at tooth enamel, causing cavities to develop.
With every sip of water you take, you are cleansing your mouth of leftover food particles and residue, minimizing the effects of the bad bacteria in your mouth. The acids produced by these bacteria are also reduced when you drink water. This does not let you off the hook for brushing your teeth twice a day, but it does help in keeping your mouth healthy.
Another advantage of drinking water is the elimination of dry mouth. Your saliva helps keep the mouth moist, washes away food particles and helps you swallow easily. It also bathes your teeth with calcium, phosphate and fluoride, which helps the teeth stay strong.
Certain medical conditions, medicines and circumstances can cause dry mouth. This can put you at risk of developing cavities. When you drink plenty of water throughout the day, the water helps minimize the risks of dry mouth as it supplements your low saliva supply.
Dentists have found that even patients with excellent oral hygiene habits are developing cavities when they must wear a mask for hours every day. Wearing a mask causes individuals to breathe more through the mouth rather than the nose. Mouth breathing leads to dry mouth, and thus increases the risk of developing cavities due to the lowered amount of saliva available. Staying hydrated helps eliminate this problem.
Water is the best liquid for hydration for several reasons:
- It is sugar-free
- Does not promote weight gain
- It is readily available
- Does not promote tooth decay
- It is good for all body functions
- Helps keep your mouth clean
Drinking water from the tap also helps with the remineralization of your teeth. Most tap water has trace minerals and fluoride. These help to restore and strengthen tooth enamel. Filtered water and bottled water do not usually contain the essential minerals needed to keep teeth healthy and strong. Distilled water and reverse osmosis water have no minerals or fluoride at all. While these waters will help keep your mouth clean and moist, tap water has the added advantage of helping keep your teeth strong.
Exercise is important for many reasons. It keeps the body toned and in shape. Exercise helps with weight loss and helps you maintain a healthy weight. It also helps you look good. You may be surprised to know that it also helps your oral health.
Studies show that physical exercise has a positive impact on dental health. The Journal of Dentistry conducted a study that revealed an increase in physical activity promotes better oral health and lowers the risk of gum disease.
In the study, people who worked out regularly and never smoked were 54% less likely to develop gum disease. Individuals who used to smoke and increased their physical activity reduced their risk of periodontal disease by 74%.
Another study published in the Journal of Periodontology showed that people with a lower BMI (body mass index) were more likely to have a lower risk of gum disease. So, losing those extra pounds could possibly also help you lower your risk for gum disease. According to the study, people who maintained a normal amount of weight and followed the recommended guidelines for exercise were 40% less likely to develop gum disease.
If you work out regularly, practice good oral hygiene and have regular dental checkups, your oral health will be maintained beautifully. This healthy lifestyle practice also includes eating healthy foods and minimizing your intake of sugary foods and beverages.
Oral health is important not only for a beautiful smile but also for your overall health and well-being. At Aesthetic & Implant Dentistry of Atlanta, we help you maintain your best oral health. Contact us for all your dental requirements.