Top 10 Habits for Improved Oral Health 2023
Matt Hannan, DDS
Updated: July 6, 2023
Have you ever visited the dentist anticipating an excellent report, only to question how much you floss? That would be a sinking feeling, especially if you thought you were doing a great job brushing and flossing. It may take some work but improving your oral care habits is possible.
This post highlights ten practices that will help you receive high praise during your next dental exam.Related: Best MDA Recommended Dental Products
1. Limit frequency of snacking
Over 70 different types of bacteria live in your mouth.
Most bacteria are harmless; however, a handful can lead to tooth decay or periodontal disease. For example, Streptococcus mutans is a harmful bacterium identified with tooth decay. Bacteria congregate into a sticky film known as dental plaque and feast on sugar consumed by the host (that’s you!).Related: Learn more about Cavities
Their food source directly depends on your dietary habits. For example, if you snack frequently, you’re providing food for the bacteria to break down, eliciting an acid attack on your teeth. You can break this cycle by snacking less frequently or consuming healthy snacks.
Common healthy snacks:
2. Chew sugar-free gum after meals
We lead busy lives and are unable to brush after every meal. Our body releases saliva that contains enzymes to break down food particles. Bacteria thrive in dry, acidic environments, so properly working salivary glands are essential. If you’re unable to brush away the remaining bacteria, chewing sugar-free gum will help clear away remaining food particles and eliminate the food source for cavity-causing bacteria.
Related: Top 6 Best Dry Mouth Product Review
3. Sip on water throughout the day
The pH in your mouth decreases (becomes more acidic) after consuming many types of food. If the pH remains elevated, bacteria will thrive, leading to an acid attack on your teeth. If decreased salivary flow occurs, then ideal cavity conditions will increase. Sipping on water throughout the day is a great way to neutralize the pH in your mouth. Also, water will aid your saliva in clearing away stubborn food particles trapped in and around your teeth.Recommended Reading: Sports Mouthguard: Protect Your Teeth, Braces & Lips
4. Consume beverages through a straw
The key to limiting your risk for tooth decay involves decreasing the contact time of sugars on your teeth.
Sugar-rich beverages are essential for many individuals; however, they threaten your teeth because each sip bathes your teeth and supplies sugars for bacteria to consume. To limit sugar contact time, drink beverages through a straw. This way, you can enjoy your drink without increasing your chances of tooth decay.
Sip these beverages with a straw:
- Energy drinks
5. Avoid acidic foods and sticky sweets
Enamel is one of the most complex substances in our body. However, it is prone to damage by acidic foods and sticky sweets. Sticky sweets aid this process by directly placing the bacteria’s food source onto teeth. Acidic foods, meanwhile, will damage the enamel surface, making it weak, sensitive, and more susceptible to decay.Recommended Reading: Top 6 Best Floss Picks
6. “C-shaped” flossing technique
Healthy gums don’t bleed! The more you floss, the less your gums will bleed.
Flossing is an excellent habit many people have difficulty mastering because it’s tedious, occasionally painful, and time-consuming. When you floss, it’s essential to hug each tooth, forming a “C-shape,” then sweep up and down before switching to the other tooth. Even the most diligent individuals will be unable to remove all bacteria with brushing alone. If you find yourself unable to floss regularly, try using a floss alternative such as a Waterpik or water flosser.
Related: Top 8 Best Dental Floss Review
7. Use ADA-accepted fluoride mouthwash
The American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance has been the leading dental product safety and efficacy mark for 90 years. Did you know that two-thirds of Americans recognize the Seal? In addition, 70% will choose a Seal product over a non-Seal alternative if it’s similar in nature and price. Using an ADA accepted fluoride mouthwash nightly will help repair weakened enamel, prevent cavities, and kill oral bacteria. Plus, it will leave your mouth feeling fresh and clean.
Recommended Reading: What is the ADA Seal of Acceptance?
8. Use electric toothbrush with fluoride toothpaste
According to the American Dental Association, both manual and electric toothbrushes effectively remove oral plaque and bacteria; however, proper use of a manual toothbrush can be difficult to achieve. As an alternative, electric toothbrushes are more effective and reliable at routinely removing more significant amounts of plaque and bacteria. Also, most electric toothbrushes are equipped with technology to improve oral care.
Electric toothbrush benefits:
- Two-minute timer
- Bluetooth capability
- Replacement brush heads
- Multiple brushing modes
Fluoride toothpaste effectively repairs weekend enamel, minimizes tooth sensitivity, and prevents tooth decay.Related: Best Electric Toothbrush Under $50
9. Avoid brushing after consuming acidic foods
When an acid attack occurs from bacteria after food consumption, the enamel’s surface is weakened and susceptible to transformation. Therefore, wait at least 10 minutes after consuming acidic foods or beverages for your saliva and water consumption to neutralize the pH in your mouth and remineralize the weakened enamel surface.Recommended Reading: Top 7 Best Sensodyne Toothpaste
10. Replace toothbrush every three months
High numbers of oral bacteria are in your mouth and your toothbrush. Therefore, replacing your toothbrush every three months is essential to minimize the bacterial load in your mouth. Replacement brush heads are also available for electric toothbrushes. In addition, some companies, such as BURST, offer subscription brush head services, so you never have to remember when to replace your brush head.
Related: BURST Sonic Toothbrush Review
My Experience & Expertise
Recognizing bad habits can be challenging, especially if you’ve been doing them for many years. So implement these ten simple habits to improve your oral health and ace your next dental exam.
Knowledge is power when cultivating healthy dental habits. The more informed you are, the better positioned you’ll be to prevent avoidable and potentially costly dental procedures for you and your family. Watch for future blog posts, where we’ll continue sharing important information, product reviews and practical advice!