How well you care for your teeth and gums tends to reflect back into how well you feel overall. There's a link between your overall health and your dental health, and not taking great care of the latter can increase your risk for conditions such as heart disease, respiratory problems and even dementia.
Luckily, improving your bathroom routine doesn't necessarily warrant major changes. A few easy tweaks to your daily mouth care can have a lasting impact on your body.
1. Invest in a Better Toothbrush
Barring any physical limitation, you don't need the fanciest electric toothbrush on the shelf. If you've been brushing with a product that has particularly tough bristles, you might be hurting your dental health without even realizing it. The harder the bristles are, the easier it is to brush too hard, leading to enamel loss and even receding gums. Try switching to a brush with soft bristles such as Colgate® 360® Enamel Health®, which features bristles that are nearly half as firm as those found on standard soft-bristled toothbrushes.
2. Remember to Floss
Although plenty of adults tell their dentists that they floss daily, most of them stretch the truth for immediate approval during their checkup. A national survey of over 2,000 adults actually found that more than one in four people lie to their dentists about how much they floss.
This small step may not be the most enjoyable, but it is the only way to remove food that gets stuck between your teeth, before it turns into plaque in a spot you can’t access. Conduct your flossing routine right before you go to bed to remove any food and plaque that has developed during the day. And remember to get in the habit of flossing at least once a day.
3. Consider an Antibacterial Mouthwash
If you feel you often have bacterial buildup that causes bad breath, incorporate a mouthrinse to further cleanse your teeth of these germs during the day. Antibacterials mouthwashes such as Colgate Total® Advanced Pro-Shield® access crevices and clean germs off of soft tissue that you may not always brush, allowing you to prevent bacteria from ruining your breath and spreading to your teeth and gumline, where it can cause cavities and gingivitis.
4. Drink More Tap Water
There are plenty of benefits to drinking more water each day. Not only does it keep you hydrated, but it can help you avoid overeating at meals. Tap water (which, in many areas, typically has fluoride added to it) is also beneficial to your teeth.
The American Dental Association (ADA) notes that fluoridating the community water supply reduces tooth decay by 25 percent in both kids and adults. Even though there are plenty of methods available today for curbing tooth decay, fluoride toothpaste and regular dental visits, specifically fluoridation, has a big impact. Given the choice, make sure you're taking advantage of the sources of fluoride you have at home, whether it's the tap or a particular brand of bottled water.
5. Eat a Nutritious Diet
Focus on eating a healthy diet that includes fruits, vegetables, grains, chicken and fish, as well as organic varieties of certain foods for protection against pesticides. And although cutting soda consumption completely can be an extreme change for some, limiting its presence in your diet is a simple way to reduce your risk for cavities and boost your oral health. If you've already made the switch from full-sugar sodas to diet, for example, it's a good idea to cut out similar diet drinks, too. They may be "sugar-free," according to the Wisconsin Dental Association, but they are very acidic and can still damage teeth over time.
What can you drink instead of soda? Plain tap water is a good choice. Try replacing one can of soda per day with a glass of water to start, then keep switching out your sodas with more water until you've finally said goodbye to this carbonated snack for good.
Making small changes to your day will improve your dental health greatly over time, but remember to keep up the habits you already embrace. Continue to brush twice a day and schedule twice-a-year appointments with your dentist, and you’ll set yourself and your family up for a lifetime of smiles.