Almost everyone gets at least a little nervous before a dental exam. Nobody wants to learn that they have tooth decay and need dental work. While sometimes trouble is inevitable, there are a lot of things you can do to prevent tooth decay. Here are 5 ways to get better dental checkups.
1. Brush your teeth properly.
You already know that brushing your teeth helps prevent tooth decay. It helps get rid of food that may be stuck on your teeth. It also helps get rid of a bacterial film on your teeth called plaque. That is extra important because plaque can harden into tartar, which can lead to gum disease.
You should brush your teeth twice a day. There are certain ways to brush to improve your results, such as holding the brush at a 45 degree angle to your teeth as you move the brush back and forth in short circular strokes. Some people are surprised to learn that brushing harder is not better; too much force can actually irritate your teeth and gums. Every time you brush, you should hit all surfaces of your teeth. The process should take about 2 minutes.
The toothbrush you use is important. Choose one that is the right size to fit into all parts of your mouth so you can get each of your teeth clean. Use a soft-bristled brush – again, you do not want to brush too hard – and replace your brush every 3 months.
Also, choose a toothpaste that has been approved by the American Dental Association (ADA). It should contain fluoride, which helps strengthen teeth.
2. Floss your teeth daily.
No matter how good your toothbrush and your brushing technique, you can still have food stuck between your teeth when you are finished. Flossing your teeth can get rid of those stubborn pieces. Floss your teeth once a day. You might enjoy flossing at night if you like the feeling of an extra clean mouth when you go to bed.
Use a length of about 18 inches of floss and wind each end around the first or second finger of your right and left hands. Then rub the floss between each of your teeth. You might find a wax-coated floss or dental ribbon more comfortable than regular floss.
3. Use mouthwash.
Mouthwash is a nice tool for fighting bad breath and making you more kissable, but it is also a key to a healthy mouth. Mouthwash can kill germs. Some products have extra fluoride to strengthen teeth. Choose a product that is approved by the American Dental Association (ADA), and avoid mouthwash with alcohol since alcohol can dry out your mouth. Dental exams may go better after you start using mouthwash regularly.
4. Drink water.
Water is not just for hydration and weight loss. Water is actually a strong weapon in the fight against tooth decay. For better dental checkups, get in the habit of carrying a water bottle around with you. After you eat or drink anything, rinse your mouth with water to get rid of the extra food on your teeth as soon as possible. This can make a difference in your dental health since bacteria can begin producing harmful acids within minutes of food being left on your teeth, which leads to a drop in pH levels in your mouth. Water helps keep your mouth’s pH levels at an acceptable level because it prevents bacteria from building up on your teeth and producing acid. Water is convenient for rinsing wherever you are.
5. Be aware of the foods that can harm your teeth.
Dental exams go better when you avoid certain foods that are bad for your teeth. Your dental hygienist may be able to guess at your diet when she sees chipped teeth from chewing on ice, or brown stains from drinking coffee.
You are probably not surprised to hear that sugary foods are bad. Certain sour candies, such as Lemon Heads and Sour Patch Kids, are among the worst because their acid can erode your tooth enamel. Sipping on sugary drinks for long periods of time between meals can also lead to decay. High-carbohydrate foods, such as bread, can also provide fuel for harmful bacteria unless you are sure to rinse your mouth out quickly after eating them. Snack foods such as Cheetos and Chex Mix can embed in all the crevices of teeth like cement and become an active feeding ground for bacteria to cause cavities.
Even some nutritious foods are dangerous for your teeth. Acidic foods such as citrus and other fruits can erode your tooth enamel. Sticky foods such as dried fruit can be difficult to remove when you brush. You do not need to avoid these foods and beverages, but be aware of them. Brush your teeth or drink water after eating them.
Good dental hygiene can go a long way in helping you get better dental checkups. With just a little extra care in your daily habits, you can visit your dentist and hygienist with a little more confidence that you have done your best in keeping your teeth healthy.