10 Ways to Keep Your Family’s Teeth Healthy When You Don’t Have Access to Dental Care
Stay-at-home oral care.
With many dental offices around the country closed to accommodate social distancing, patients are looking for ways to keep their teeth healthy at home.
Thankfully, you can achieve optimal dental care using the tools and resources right at your fingertips! Today, we’re sharing 10 tips to help you keep your smile bright until we can meet in person again.
1. Amplify your dental hygiene.
Are you an intermittent flosser? Do you only brush at night?
If you’ve been slacking a little with your dental hygiene routine, now’s the time to kick it into high gear. Remember to brush your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes each time, and floss at least once a day. Then, remind your family to do the same.
These simple steps can go a long way toward preventing tooth decay and keeping cavities at bay!
2. Prioritize your immune system.
Did you know that oral health and your immune system go hand-in-hand? It makes sense when you break down the biology. Everything that enters your body has to pass through your mouth first.
If your teeth and gums are filled with germs and bacteria, those organisms are also allowed to enter into your system. This can weaken your immune system and make you more susceptible to infections. Conversely, when you prioritize your oral health, you give your immune system an immediate boost and improve your whole-body health.
3. Snack smart.
We get it! Quarantine snacks are a necessity during this trying time. That said, try to reach for whole foods, including fruits and veggies, and whole grains when possible.
In addition to fiber-rich produce, which stimulates your saliva flow and wards off cavities, you can also indulge in cheese and dairy products. These are filled with tooth-loving minerals, including calcium. As an added benefit, the calcium also sticks to your teeth and helps prevent acid erosion!
Wondering what not to eat?
Try to avoid starchy, refined carbohydrates, such as chips, bread, or pasta. After lingering in your mouth, those starches break down into simple sugars. When internal bacteria feed on these sugars, they can produce acid that causes tooth decay.
At the same time, try to avoid hard, sugary candy, along with sodas and fruit juices. The saliva in your mouth cannot wash away the sugar from these items, so it sticks to your teeth for longer than it should. If you do indulge, be sure to brush your teeth afterward!
4. Drink water.
To help rinse your mouth and keep it free of harmful bacteria, remember to drink plenty of water throughout the day.
Other habits that can help keep your mouth as clean as possible include flossing daily and using a fluoride-based toothpaste twice a day for two minutes.
5. Don’t skip mouthwash.
There are many reasons to make mouthwash, or mouthrinse, one of the stars of your oral hygiene routine. Not only is it effective at getting your teeth whiter and cleaner, but it also takes your brushing regimen to the next level.
When you rinse with mouthwash after brushing, it removes any lingering tartar and plaque. It can also help prevent gingivitis, which is early-stage gum disease.
Some of the benefits of using mouthwash include preventing cavities, strengthening your teeth, killing the germs that cause bad breath, and freshening your breath. This list of ADA-approved products is a great place to start!
6. Learn how to defend against cavities.
The tips above can keep your teeth healthy and clean. Yet, until they become second nature, someone in your family might still develop a cavity. If this happens, it can be disheartening to consider what will happen when you can’t visit your dentist.
On one hand, you don’t want it to get any worse. However, you can’t exactly go in for a routine checkup right now. To help mitigate the spread and severity of the cavity, stay away from sugar, and remember to brush your teeth at least twice a day. This way, you can slow the growth of decay until you can visit your dentist again.
7. Clean your toothbrush.
When’s the last time you replaced or even cleaned your toothbrush? The ADA recommends replacing yours every three to four months or even sooner if the bristles are frayed.
To clean your toothbrush, simply rinse it with tap water and store it upright. Keep it separate from any other toothbrushes in your bathroom and only cover it if you’re traveling. Closed containers can create a moist environment that harbors unwanted bacteria.
8. Learn proper brushing techniques.
Especially if your children are very young, there’s a chance they aren’t brushing correctly. They could be brushing too vigorously or using the wrong toothbrush.
Use your time at home wisely to teach your children the importance of oral health. The ADA created this quick video to demonstrate brushing basics and help answer any questions. They also published this illustrative guide on how to floss!
9. Remember your tongue.
Plaque can easily build up on your tongue. When this happens, it can introduce a host of issues ranging from bad breath to more serious oral health issues. The best way to remove it is to gently brush your tongue while you’re brushing your teeth.
Remember that young children might need help with this step. Watch them while they brush and floss, and offer guidance as necessary.
10. Set a good example.
Children are natural emulators. If they catch you doing something, it won’t be long before they’re trying to create their own, pint-sized version.
Use this trait to your advantage by practicing great oral hygiene in front of your family. Let your kids watch you brush your teeth in the morning and at night, and show them how you floss. They’ll be that much more willing to adopt the skill themselves this way.
Practice optimal dental care at home.
Optimal dental care begins with a personal choice. If you’re committed to keeping your teeth and gums as healthy as possible, then the steps on this list will come naturally.
While you’re together at home, make it a point to discuss the importance of oral hygiene with your family. Then you can learn, practice, and grow together as you discover how fun dental health can be!
In the meantime, please call us for any dental-related questions or emergencies, and remember we can still schedule routine appointments in advance. We’re here for you and miss your beautiful smiles!