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So what are we doing wrong? We find ourselves, as well as our children, having problems with gingivitis, cavities, inflamed and bleeding gums and cold sores.

Many, many articles, common sense, our dentist, our parents and schools have drilled into us how to perform good dental hygiene. We find ourselves, as well as our children, having problems with gingivitis, cavities, inflamed and bleeding gums and cold sores even with all the education. 

So what are we doing wrong? We properly brush 2 to 3 times a day. We floss daily. We watch our sugar intake. This is common sense and lessons we have been taught all our life. Let’s look at other factors to consider.

Diet. We know sugars affect our oral health. Fruits and raw vegetables are great for your teeth! If you’re like me though, I have never particularly liked fruits or raw vegetables. I have found ways to eat satisfying snacks without eating sugary snacks. A cut apple with a dab of peanut butter is my favorite! Chopped fresh, raw carrots, celery, and onions mixed with ripe avocado served with crackers are another late-night snack. Instead of that soda or sports drink loaded with sugar, I prefer to drink a cold glass of low-fat milk. Point is to find your snacks and treats that satisfy your cravings. Occasionally we must give in to our temptations. In these cases, rinse your mouth with water as soon as you are finished and brush your teeth as soon as possible.

Toothbrush. We need to change our toothbrush frequently. Bacteria and germs are transferred to your brush every time you use it. A good rinsing removes much but not all. As your damp toothbrush dries in that toothbrush holder, the germs and bacteria grow. The dampness of the bathroom helps the germs breeding ground. In a recent study it was shown that flushing the toilet with the lid up allowed bacteria airborne spread up to 6 feet! It is recommended to keep your toothbrush in an enclosed toothbrush holder or medicine chest away from the open air. Pick a good, soft brush with bristles of various density and lengths. Change or sterilize your brush every month.

Mouthwash. Careful selection of your mouthwash is critical! Just because they have the flashiest ad on TV doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Read the label and ingredients. If you haven’t taken the time you are in for a shock! Many mouthwashes use large amounts of sweeteners and/or alcohol (up to 20%!)  to make their product taste good. Your favorite mouthwash could be doing much more harm than good. There are plenty of great healthy, natural mouthwashes available.

Toothpaste. The same can be said about your toothpaste selection as your mouthwash. Do not fall for the hype. Read the labels! It can be an education! Most recommend a “pea” sized amount on your toothbrush. Why? Most likely due to the dangers of using this product. Does it have “keep out of reach of children” and the poison control center phone number? Your mouth and skin are porous. What you put in your mouth is absorbed into the skin. You do not have to accidentally swallow to ingest many of the chemicals within your toothpaste. Be smart about picking toothpaste that is effective and safe.

Gums. You can have perfect pearly whites throughout your mouth and have unhealthy gums. Gum disease can lead not only to tooth loss but can conduce to other problems such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke and problems during pregnancy.  We know we must brush our teeth 2 to 3 minutes but not much longer so we don’t damage our teeth by removing your teeth’s protective enamel. You should brush and massage your gums every time you brush. Remember your gums are porous! Use safe and healthy toothpaste and really work on those gums and tongue!

Keep your teeth and your health! Becoming a senior no longer means imminent dental problems. Becoming pregnant no longer means “giving up my teeth for the baby”. Save hundreds and maybe thousands of dollars for preventable health and dental expenses. Keeping your great oral-care habits and using the limitless wisdom and information available to us to be smart on our healthcare product selections will ensure that great smile continues throughout your life.

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