Simple habits can make a drastic difference for your oral health.

Leaving the dentist with clean teeth and a clean bill of health is a surprisingly great feeling—it carries with it a sense of accomplishment. This is because maintaining your oral health at home takes dedication. When you do this, it’s not just your teeth and gums that benefit from improved health—it’s your entire body! Despite the huge benefits that great oral health can reap, most of the daily habits you need to care for your oral health are quick and easy. Here are 5 simple ways you can care for your oral health at home.

1. Brush your teeth twice daily.

You’ve likely heard this advice before, but one of the most important things you can do for your oral health is to really commit to brushing your teeth for two minutes twice a day. Throughout the day, bacteria and plaque collect on your teeth and feed on the sugars from your meals and drinks. The bacteria then produce acid that eats away at your tooth enamel, eventually leading to cavities. Brushing your teeth helps prevent cavities by removing bacteria and plaque from the surface of your teeth. The fluoride in most toothpastes also helps strengthen and repair the protective layer of enamel on your teeth. To brush your teeth properly, use a soft-bristled toothbrush and hold it at a 45-degree angle, then make small back-and-forth motions across your teeth. Make sure to brush the front, back, and chewing surfaces of your teeth.

2. Floss and use mouthwash once daily.

Brushing your teeth isn’t the only vital step in your at-home dental care routine. Flossing and using mouthwash both play essential roles in your oral health, reaching and cleaning areas of your mouth that the bristles of your toothbrush simply can’t reach. For example, flossing removes plaque from around your gum line, preventing gum disease like periodontitis. Periodontitis is a leading cause of tooth loss in America and can have a massive impact on your overall health if it goes untreated, so it’s vital to take steps to prevent it.

Similarly, swishing mouthwash around in your mouth gets all the last nooks and crannies you may have missed or not cleaned as well. Plus, mouthwash often provides targeted help for specific oral healthcare needs such as gingivitis or cavity prevention. You should floss and use mouthwash at least once a day, though some types of mouthwash require you to use it twice a day instead. Always follow the directions on the label of your mouthwash to ensure you’re getting the most benefit possible from it.

3. Make tooth-healthy snack and beverage choices.

The bacteria in your mouth are fueled by sugar, so sugary and carbohydrate-rich foods are just as bad for your oral health as they are for your overall health. You don’t have to cut them out of your diet completely, but it’s much wiser to limit how much of these foods you’re eating. When you do eat them, try to do so during meals and stick to crunchy fruits and vegetables for snacks. Similarly, try to stick to drinking water between meals. These habits are healthier for your body as a whole, but both actively help prevent cavities as well. Crunchy fruits and vegetables do this by scraping plaque from your teeth as you chew, while water flushes your mouth of food debris and brings its acidity level back down to normal.

4. Visit your dentist regularly.

No matter how dedicated you are to your at-home dental care, you should still visit Dr. Harris twice a year. He’s trained to spot oral health issues early, so seeing him regularly increases the likelihood that you’ll be able to get treatment for dental issues like cavities before they become a big deal. You may even simply be able to adjust your habits at home to resolve minor gingivitis before it worsens or to clean an area of your mouth that Dr. Harris may have noticed you’re not cleaning as well. Additionally, regular appointments actively prevent cavities and gum disease by providing a thorough professional cleaning. This cleaning even removes hardened tartar from your teeth, which is bonded to your enamel and can’t be cleaned off of your teeth at home.

5. Don’t use your teeth as tools.

Your teeth are designed to help you eat all kinds of foods throughout your entire lifetime. To accomplish this, they’re incredibly strong and durable—but they’re also brittle. This means that trying to use your teeth as tools to open packages or crack nuts is flirting with disaster. You can easily chip, crack, or break your teeth, earning you a trip to the emergency dentist. There’s no way to predict how serious this damage will be, either—you may only need a little dental bonding to treat a small chip or crack, or you may need to get a dental crown to repair and protect a severely broken tooth.

Using your teeth this way also risks damaging your existing dental restorations and can wear your teeth down over time, leading to issues like tooth sensitivity. Put simply, your teeth aren’t designed to be used as tools. It’s much safer and healthier—for you and your wallet—to use them only as they’re intended to be used.

While these habits are simple and don’t require you to make huge changes to your daily schedule, they can still make a huge difference to your oral health—and, as a result, to your overall health. Spending just a few minutes on your at-home dental care routine every day even has the potential to lengthen your life! If you’re ready to get started by scheduling your regular appointment with Dr. Harris, feel free to call our office at any time.