Start building healthy oral health habits with your family.

As the new year is upon us, why not start focusing on better oral health habits as a family? A good dental routine and great oral hygiene practices can have your smile lasting a lifetime. The team at Metro East Dental Care in Granite City, Illinois wants you and your family to have the best oral health, so here are ways to build those healthy habits—as a family.

Brush and floss daily.

The key building block to a great oral health routine is brushing and flossing daily, but are you brushing and flossing correctly? Dentists recommend you brush your teeth at least twice a day and for a minimum of two minutes each time, while flossing should be done at least once a day.

Have the right tools.

First, make sure you have the correct tools. Look for the ADA seal on your dental products. The ADA seal means the American Dental Association recommends these products and recommends them for use. For a toothbrush, you want to look for one with soft bristles and a head that is the appropriate size for your mouth. The head of your toothbrush should be able to maneuver comfortably inside of your mouth so you can get all sides of your teeth. When choosing a toothpaste, look for ones that have added fluoride, which can help strengthen the enamel on your teeth.

Practice your technique.

To begin, make sure you use the proper amount of toothpaste on your toothbrush. Children and adults only need the amount of toothpaste equal to a pea, while toddlers only need the amount equal to a grain of rice. While brushing, use small, circular motions, making sure you brush all surfaces of your teeth, including the tops, backs, and sides. To help make sure you and your family are brushing your teeth long enough, split your mouth into four quadrants, and make sure you spend at least 30 seconds in each quadrant. To help your children visualize the time, you can use an egg timer or set a timer on your phone to ensure everyone is brushing for the proper length of time.

Don’t skip flossing!

When you are flossing, make sure you are holding the dental floss taut between your fingers when you floss. Gently slide the dental floss down between two teeth, and using gentle rubbing motions, swipe away any food particles or bacteria that may be between your teeth. As you get closer to the gumline, bend the dental floss into a “C” shape and make sure you get anything that is caught underneath the gumline.

Now that you know how to brush and floss properly, turn this time into family time and have your entire family brush and floss their teeth together. This shows children the importance of taking care of their oral health because they are learning from their role models.

Visit Metro East Dental Care for routine check-ups.

Did you know that visiting the dentist every six months for a dental check-up is recommended by dentists all over the world? One of the main reasons for dental check-ups is preventative care. If you are doing proper oral health routines at home, biannual dental evaluations can act as preventative care, where your dentist will check to make sure there are no issues with your teeth—ones that can’t be seen with the naked eye. At these biannual appointments, your dentist can detect any dental issues before they become big problems.

Since routine dental check-ups are so important, make sure you schedule the entire family to come on the same day for their appointments, and you can check that chore off of the list for another six months!

Develop healthy eating habits for strong teeth.

Eating healthy isn’t just great for your body—it can help your teeth stay strong too! To make sure you are fueling your teeth, look for foods that are high in calcium, like dairy products. Calcium is a mineral that helps build strong bones and teeth, so low-fat cheese and milk are great choices.

If you are looking for items that not only help to keep your breath fresh but also help swipe away bad bacteria from your teeth, choose crunchy fruits and vegetables, like celery, carrots, and apples. Since these foods are fibrous, they act as little toothbrushes while you chew. They are also full of other vitamins and minerals that are beneficial for your overall health.

Other superfoods that provide you with vitamins and minerals that are beneficial to your mouth and overall health are dark, leafy vegetables, like spinach and kale, which are high in Vitamin D. Citrus fruits contain Vitamin C, which helps with gum health, so keep some oranges around for a healthy snack option. Another smart snacking option is nuts because they are full of protein and Vitamin D. The crunch of the nuts while chewing also helps to stimulate saliva production, which can help clean your teeth.

Use fluoride at any age.

Fluoride is a natural occurring mineral that helps to make the enamel, or outer covering of your teeth, stronger. Many toothpastes are fortified with fluoride, so look for that as an ingredient when choosing your toothpaste. Fluoride should also be an ingredient in the mouthwash you use.

If you find that your enamel isn’t as strong as it should be, your dentist may recommend an extra fluoride treatment. It can be done in the office and doesn’t hurt. Your dentist will paint your teeth with a special fluoride solution and then let it dry. Afterward, you are free to go about your day!

Healthy oral health care habits are a group effort.

Building healthy habits takes input from the whole family. Whether you stage a “brushing” party before bed, get the kids involved in preparing tooth-healthy foods, or make visiting the dentist a group activity, you can keep each other on track and benefit from sparkling smiles for years to come. If you’re due for a dental checkup, reach out to the team at Metro East Dental Care. We’d love to see the whole family!