We all know taking care of our teeth is important, but let’s face it, it’s easy to neglect them. We skip flossing that one night and then we forget the next night and pretty soon we haven’t flossed in months. Our teeth don’t hurt and we’re really busy so we skip this month’s cleaning, and on the spiral goes.
To help us all keep on top of our oral health, we pulled together this list of tips and advice from the Canadian Dental Association (CDA).
Preventive care tips to remember
- Brush at least twice a day – though ideally after every meal (scroll down for a guide to brushing)
- Floss once a day
- Limit your intake of sugary snacks and drinks (that includes juice!)
- Do not smoke or use other tobacco products
- Go for an exam as often as your dentist recommends and get your teeth cleaned and polished based on the schedule your dentist suggests (the required frequency of examination/cleaning visits is determined by your individual oral health)
Pay attention to your mouth – take note of any of the following warning signs and contact your dentist if they pop up:
- Sensitivity to cold, heat, sweetness or pressure (may indicate tooth decay)
- Persistent bad breath, bleeding when brushing/flossing (the CDA says gums sometimes bleed when you first start flossing, but that usually stops after a few days) or red/shiny/puffy/sore gums (may indicate gum disease)
Unexplained bleeding, open sores that don’t heal in seven to 10 days, numbness/tingling, white/red patches, lumps or thickening of the tissue in any part of your mouth (may indicate oral cancer)
The lowdown on brushing
We’ve been brushing our own teeth since we were kids, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we’ve been doing it right. Here are some brushing tips to remember to make sure you’re getting the best clean you can:
- Use a soft, round-bristled brush that can reach your back teeth
- Use a toothpaste with fluoride (look for the CDA seal)
- Spend at least two minutes brushing – and don’t forget your tongue (but do be gentle on it)
- Replace your toothbrush every three months and when it looks worn or when you’ve had a cold, as the bristles can hold onto germs that could re-infect you
Don’t forget to floss – click here for the CDA’s visual guide to flossing and brushing properly
The health connection
“Everything that happens in your mouth affects your whole body, which is why it is so important to visit your dentist regularly,” the CDA says.
The association notes oral health is an important part of our overall health, with research showing “there may be a link between oral disease and other health problems such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke as well as pre-term and low-birth-weight babies.”
On top of that, gum disease, gingivitis, cavities, and oral cancer are all oral health concerns that we need to keep on top of. Preventive care is the best way to do that – meaning at-home care and regular visits to a dentist.
To wrap up, here’s a takeaway to-do list to keep in mind.
- Be mindful of your sugar intake.
- If you’re not flossing regularly – get started and aim to make it a daily practice.
- Make sure you’re brushing for two minutes twice a day at a minimum, with a soft-bristled brush.
- Check in with your dentist if you haven’t had a recent visit – get a check-up and a cleaning and follow your dentist’s recommendations from there for how often you should make an appointment.