You are the best advocate for the health of your teeth and mouth. On a weekly basis, check inside your mouth for swollen or bleeding gums; foul mouth odor that does not go away; cracked, chipped, or discolored teeth; tooth and/or jaw pain; and sores or lesions on the gums, cheeks, or tongue. Any of these can be symptomatic of more serious health problems and should be brought to the attention of your doctor. The best way to prevent such problems from developing is to maintain healthy dental hygiene habits:
- Eat a balanced diet without excessive sweets. As far back as the 1940s, researchers like Weston A. Price observed the role of nutrition in dental and physical health. Price was one of the first to conclude that “foods of commerce,” such as flour, sugar, and processed food products cause nutritional deficiencies (especially in vitamins and minerals) that result in dental and general health problems.
- Don’t smoke or use smokeless tobacco products.
- Brush at least twice daily–after breakfast and before bedtime.
- Floss daily.
- Brush the tongue.
- Replace your toothbrush at least every three to four months.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Chew sugarless gum between meals, especially if you cannot brush teeth. Chewing helps dislodge foods between the teeth and increases saliva flow to neutralize mouth acids.
- Schedule regular dental visits, usually every six months.