Oral health is important for overall health, wellbeing and quality of life, but problems such as tooth decay and gum disease are still common across all age groups. The good news is that many oral diseases are preventable when you take good care of your teeth and gums.
Here are five ways to improve or maintain your oral health and lower your risk of problems developing.
1. Brush and floss correctly
To prevent plaque and tooth decay, you should brush your teeth using fluoride toothpaste twice a day, for at least two minutes each time.
Parents with young children should start to brush their teeth as soon as they appear, using water and a small children's toothbrush. You can start to use low-fluoride children's toothpaste from 6 months of age and regular fluoride toothpaste from 6 years.
As well as brushing, flossing is another important part of a daily oral hygiene routine. You should floss between your teeth at least once a day to remove trapped food and plaque.
2. Follow a teeth-friendly diet
Sugar and other carbohydrates in food and drink can increase the risk of tooth decay and gum disease by feeding bacteria in plaque. Bacteria convert these compounds into acids, which can gradually erode the surface of your teeth and form cavities.
You can lower your risk of tooth decay and needing a filling by avoiding sugary, starchy and acidic food and drinks. A balanced diet that includes calcium-rich dairy goods and nutrient-rich vegetables helps to support good oral health.
3. Drink plenty of water
Staying hydrated throughout the day and rinsing your mouth after snacks and sugary drinks helps to prevent tooth decay, but water is even better for your oral health if it contains fluoride.
Around half of New Zealanders now have access to fluoride in their local water supplies. This has been proven to help strengthen teeth and lower rates of tooth decay in communities.
4. Protect your teeth
If you or your children play contact sports such as rugby, or other activities where there's a risk of injuring your teeth, it's recommended that you wear a mouthguard for protection.
Custom mouthguards provided by your dentist offer greater protection than poorly-fitting mouthguards purchased in stores, helping to reduce the severity of impacts to the mouth and jaw.
5. Visit your dentist regularly
Having regular oral health assessments with your dentist increases the chance that any problems will be spotted early, when they're usually easier to correct. Hygiene treatments also help to protect teeth against decay.
Your dentist will recommend the ideal frequency of visits based on your individual risk. Children should have their first dental visit by their second birthday.
Talk to a family dentist in Auckland
When was the last time you visited the dentist? If you or your family are due for your check-ups, contact our friendly team at St Heliers Dental Centre. Call us today on (09) 575 5814 or contact us to book an appointment.