The beginning of a new year is a good time for reflection, making plans, and making changes. It is also an opportunity to have fun with numbers and lists. We’ve put together a list of 21 dental hygiene tips for you and your family for 2021.
1. Instead of buying bottled water, buy a refillable bottle, and fill it from the tap.
In most (not all) households that have running water, that water has been fluoridated. Fluoride is a major player in the mouth’s daily defense against bacteria and plaque. Drinking fluoride water and giving your teeth that fluoride rinses several times a day in between meals and snacks, is important. The fluoridation of community water is likely a benefit in your home that you’ve never considered. However, it’s considered one of the ten biggest public health achievements for the entire 20th century, take advantage of it!
2. Incorporate more crunchy fruits and veggies into your meal and snack routines.
The downside to a lot of the delicious foods that we eat is that they lodge in between our teeth and in the crevices of our molars. When those food leftovers side on the gum line and around our teeth they often have time to do their dirty work on our teeth before the next time we brush. Crunchy fruits such as apples, pears, carrots, and celery. In addition to doing a little scrubbing while we crunch these fruits and vegetables are loaded with vitamins.
3. Routine dental visits
Even if you and your kids don’t have any symptoms of tooth problems, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have regularly occurring visits. An important part of dental care is prevention. Make sure your kids are scheduled for their yearly checkups and cleanings. Check with your insurance provider, some insurances are acknowledging the benefit of cleanings every six months.
4. Quit smoking/chewing tobacco.
This one doesn’t need a long-drawn-out explanation. Bottom line, smoking and chewing tobacco are bad for your teeth and bad for your overall oral health. Now’s a great time to work on quitting if you do either of these in order to set a better example for your kids to follow.
5. Quit or limit alcoholic beverages.
Regardless of your personal beliefs, alcohol is generally bad for your oral health. Alcohol can cause dry mouth which reduces your body’s natural defenses (saliva) against sugar, acid, and bacteria in the mouth. Many alcoholic beverages can stain your teeth, while the acidic content in many of them eat away at your tooth’s enamel. As a parent, your actions and feelings towards alcohol will influence those of your children, especially teenagers.
6. Cut back on the soda.
We know that sometimes you just really want something to drink other than water, but the truth is soda/pop is really harmful for your teeth. It’s very acidic and for every sip of soda you take, you’ve started a 20-minute-long acid attack on your teeth. So if you’re going to drink it, drink it quickly instead of dragging it out, and brush or at least rinse your mouth out with water when you’re done.
7. Use mouthwash.
Add the use of a therapeutic mouthwash to your morning or nightly routine. Proper mouthwashes can kill bacteria, fight plaque, and help prevent gingivitis. Recommended only for children over the age of 6 who aren’t at risk of swallowing the mouthwash.
8. Brush twice daily for two minutes.
Yes, this one made the list. Can’t have a list without this one. We always remind you!
9. Floss at least once a day.
Even our best brushers will admit to skipping flossing, or not doing it at all. Correct that misstep this year! Flossing is important and will grab food debris that will surprise you.
10. Chew sugar-free gum.
If you or your kids are in the habit of chewing gum, take a close look at the gum you buy. Is it sugar-free? Does it have the ADA seal?
11. Use a mouthguard when participating in sports.
Most people are familiar with football players using mouth guards for their sport, but you should really consider a mouth guard for your kids for other sports as well. Sports accidents can cause painful dental injuries. For more information about mouthguards, read our in-depth post, “Why Your Kids Should Use a Mouth Guard”.
12. Brush up on your brushing skills.
Take a moment to examine the way you and your kids brush your teeth. The technique is important; here’s a quick video put together by the ADA:
13. Let your kids pick out their own toothbrush.
Get your kids invested in brushing their teeth. Taking some ownership can help with that. Let them pick out their own toothbrush.
14. Brush with fluoride toothpaste.
Check your toothpaste and be sure it has fluoride. Look for the ADA seal too.
15. Replace your toothbrushes every three to four months.
Yes, your toothbrush needs to be replaced about 4 times a year. When the bristles wear out they can cause damage to your gums. Additionally, over time your toothbrush begins to collect bacteria.
16. Switch to whole wheat.
White flour products such as pastas, crackers, and breads turn into a lot of sugar for your teeth, and worse they can really stick in the crevices. See about transitioning to whole wheat products.
17. Bring nuts into your meal stable.
Peanuts, almonds, and cashews have the benefit of providing your body with protein, and minerals including calcium and phosphorous. Those minerals are important for your dental health because they are the minerals that are commonly eaten away from our tooth’s enamel by the sugars and acids that we consume and they need replenishing.
18. Set a schedule for eating and avoid grazing.
Do you know what we mean when we say grazing? Grazing is that slow snacking that all of us have done before where you just eat a little bit, and then a few minutes later, a little bit more, and so on. It might not sound so bad, but the truth is, it’s incredibly harmful to your teeth. When you graze, your teeth are under near-constant assault by the sugars, and acids introduced to the mouth with your food. Your tongue instinctively tugs and pulls at your teeth to try and clean out lodged foods, and your saliva is a professional defensive linebacker working hard for your teeth. Stop putting them under non-stop assault, and commit your family and yourself to set times for eating.
19. Don’t let your baby/toddler go to sleep with a bottle.
Even if your baby hasn’t gotten their first tooth, don’t start the habit of them going to sleep with a bottle. The milk or juice in a bottle can sit in their mouths and foster bacteria and tooth decay while they sleep.
20. Rinse your mouth with water after snacking or drinking.
After you and your kids snack or drink anything that isn’t water, make a conscious effort to follow it up with drinking water. Water will help to rinse the sugars and bacteria.
21. Get your kids floss picks
If flossing is difficult for your kids, don’t give up on the idea of flossing, instead, look to floss picks. Floss picks are individual flossers that can fit in tight spaces but may be easier to maneuver than regular floss. The ADA has given its seal to the DenTek Kids Fun Flosser Floss Picks.
We hope some of the tips on this list can be easy for you to incorporate into your dental hygiene routines in your home. Some may take trial and error while others may take a little longer to turn into habits, but we know you can do it. When was the last time your kids had a dental checkup? Give us a call today at 801-948-8880 and we’ll find an appointment time that works for you at whichever of our four locations is nearest you.