A lifelong healthy smile starts with following simple but effective oral care guidelines.

Your smile is important. Not only does your smile allow you to express your happiness and joy, but achieving optimal dental health protects your overall health as well.

We may be a little biased, but we think you’ll agree that striving for an optimal level of dental health is a worthy goal for everyone to pursue. It means a brighter smile, fewer dental problems (surprise toothaches are no fun), and the ability to keep your natural teeth well into your golden years.

Best of all, caring for your oral health isn’t a complicated process! It really comes down to maintaining basic daily oral hygiene and doing what you can healthwise to eliminate risks.

Here are 5 things to do to maintain lifelong optimal dental health.

1. Adopt an at-home oral care routine that covers all your bases, from decay prevention to periodontal health.

Brush twice a day for two minutes.

Brush morning and night or whenever you feel like you need to refresh your smile after a meal.

Upgrading to a powered/electric toothbrush is a great way to level up your brushing routine as they offer a much more thorough clean compared to manual toothbrushes.

Floss daily, ideally before brushing.

Floss at least once a day, ideally before you brush your teeth. Flossing before your bedtime brushing ensures no hidden food debris can cause issues while you sleep.

Flossing should also be done if you ever feel like food is stuck in your teeth. Flossers are a handy alternative to standard floss for quick and easy cleaning.

Include a tongue scraper and mouthwash.

Tongue scrapers are more effective at reducing bad breath than brushing. Using a mouthwash is also great for freshening your breath as well as reducing plaque and gum inflammation.

We recommend patients floss, scrape their tongue, and then brush their teeth. Finish with a mouthwash and you’re done!

Use oral care products with the ADA Seal of Approval.

Check out this webpage to find a list of products approved by the American Dental Association.

2. See your dentist every six months for a checkup and follow through on treatment visits as swiftly as you can.

Biannual exams uncover subtle early warning signs of trouble.

Most dental health issues aren’t apparent to us until we begin to feel pain, at which point damage has already been done. Only your dentist will be able to notice those super subtle early warning signs of trouble.

Professional cleanings prevent decay as well as gum disease.

Plaque removal keeps cavities at bay, but it also helps our gums. Plaque build-up is the primary cause of gingivitis and gum disease (periodontitis), making biannual cleanings crucial for gum health.

The faster a treatment plan is completed, the healthier your smile will be.

When a problem is spotted, taking swift action to complete your dentist’s recommended treatment plan saves time, money, and the health of your smile. A tiny cavity can quickly turn into serious decay faster than you think, resulting in more appointments, more expense, and the potential loss of a tooth.

3. Kick lifestyle habits that can negatively affect your oral health, such as smoking and excessive drinking.

Smoking and tobacco use is a leading cause of gum disease.

Did you know that over 60% of smokers also have gum disease? Tobacco use is strongly linked to periodontitis (advanced gum disease), tooth decay, premature tooth loss, and oral cancer. Getting the help you need to stop tobacco use will drastically improve your oral and overall health.

Excessive drinking also causes gum disease as well as tooth decay.

Alcoholic beverages are corrosive to the teeth and often surprisingly high in sugar. Alcohol also is dehydrating in nature and can lead to dry mouth. All of these things, in turn, increase your risk of decay and gum disease.

Seek treatment for anxiety- or stress-induced bruxism symptoms.

Grinding, clenching, and gnashing your teeth (bruxism) is strongly linked to stress and anxiety. If you suspect you have bruxism, seek treatment from a mental health professional. Your dentist can also help you by providing an oral appliance to protect your teeth from chipping and wear.

4. Adjust your diet to include a variety of nutritious whole foods and fewer sugars, starches, and processed items.

A smile-friendly diet is a varied diet based on fresh foods.

Focus your main meals around fresh produce and healthy protein sources. Consulting with a nutritionist can be really beneficial if you’re unsure of where to start or you have underlying health conditions that make diet a sensitive subject.

Starches can be as bad for your teeth as sugar.

Limiting sugar is a given, but be careful of starches and carbohydrates. Carbs from foods like bread break down into simple sugars and can be even worse for your teeth than candy.

Drink fresh water throughout the day.

Water is as important for your body as it is for your teeth. Drink water as often as you can during the day. Flavored water is a nice change, but check the labels. Some can have hidden sugar and enamel-eroding citric acid.

5. Consider elective dentistry procedures that could improve the long-term function and health of your smile.

Proactive dental treatment can prevent future appointments.

A great example of this is replacing missing teeth. Choosing to invest in a dental implant now will ensure you don’t experience future bone loss in your jaw that could cause the loss of surrounding teeth or other related issues.

Cosmetic dentistry is about function as much as beauty.

Cosmetic dental services can improve your oral health just as much as they boost your confidence. Veneers are an example of a cosmetic solution that can also offer some protection against decay, staining, and chronic temperature-sensitivity.

Straight, well-aligned teeth are also healthier teeth.

Pursuing orthodontic treatment like Invisalign results in a more attractive smile as well as a healthier one. Straight teeth with proper spacing are much easier to clean when brushing and flossing, thereby making them less likely to develop decay.

Metro East Dental Care is dedicated to helping you achieve and maintain your best smile.

There’s nothing the Metro East Dental Care team finds as rewarding as helping patients achieve their dream smile and then helping them maintain their oral health for years to come.

Perhaps you’re a new patient looking for a compassionate, skilled dental group to entrust with your oral health. Maybe you’re already a patient of ours interested in learning more about preventive dental care. Either way, we’ve got your back!

You can book a visit with us today by calling our office or filling out this online appointment request form.