Why Dental Health Matters (and How to Take Better Care of Your Teeth)
Proper dental health seems to be one of those things that fall to the bottom of most people’s priority lists. You already know that you’re supposed to try to make better food choices, get plenty of rest, and move your body. As a young entrepreneur, you also know the best habits for developing strong leadership skills and running a business.
But how much time have you devoted to thinking about your dental health?
We’re guessing not much.
That needs to change. Good dental hygiene keeps you healthier overall. What happens in your mouth translates to the rest of your body. Too many cavities or unchecked gum disease can impair your ability to speak and affect your entire face. Infections in your mouth can travel to your heart and cause heart disease or even stroke. Do you really want all that just because you don’t like flossing?
Out there in the business world, young entrepreneurs need to present their best selves. That includes cleanliness, dressing in proper attire – and good oral hygiene. No one wants to network with someone who has bad breath!
BRUSH YOUR TEETH TWICE A DAY
No matter how sluggish you are in the mornings. No matter how late you’re running. No matter how sleepy you are at night. Brush after breakfast but before you head out for the day and brush again right before bed. Morning brushing eliminates the bacteria that’s grown in your mouth overnight. Brushing at night cleans out all the gunk you put in there during thZe day. If you really can’t brush after breakfast, do it as soon as you wake up. And if you really can’t brush right before bed, do it immediately after dinner and don’t eat or drink anything except water.
You don’t need as much toothpaste as they show in commercials. A dollop about the size of a pea is all you need to get your teeth clean and fresh.
Be gentle. Brush in a circular motion. Make sure you cover all your teeth, on every side. Front, back, and, for the molars, the top surfaces. Go up to the gum line but don’t scrub your gums too hard or they’ll bleed. Gently brush your tongue, as well. That helps eliminate bad breath.
CHOOSE THE PROPER TOOTHBRUSH
Use a brush with soft to medium bristles. This gets your teeth clean without irritating your gums. Electric toothbrushes are great, too. Make sure the head of the toothbrush fits comfortably in and around your mouth. And remember to change your toothbrush every 3-4 months or if you’ve been on antibiotics.
Unlike brushing, you only need to floss once a day. There’s such a thing as too much flossing, which can do more harm than good to your gums. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t floss at all.
Be gentle when you floss. Your goal is not to jam the floss up into your gums until they bleed. It’s to remove food and plaque from between your teeth. Gently pull the floss into a c-curve around the sides of your tooth and move up and down once or twice. Don’t forget those back molars!
IF YOU HAVE BRACES
Obviously, if you have braces, then flossing is not in the cards for you. Those of you with braces or a palate expander should consider investing in a water pick. This device can squirt clean water into the spaces and gaps that would normally be cleaned with floss.
According to the American Dental Association, there are two reasons why you might use mouthwash in addition to brushing and flossing (or water pick-ing). One is that you have a specific oral problem that requires the medicinal benefits of a rinse. There are prescription rinses your dentist may ask you to use after oral surgery or for clinically bad breath. There are also home remedy rinses your dentist might suggest, such as salt water or hydrogen peroxide to help you heal after having a tooth pulled.
The other reason to use mouthwash is that it just feels good. For cleaner teeth, look for mouthwashes that carry the ADA Seal of Acceptance.
Keep in mind that mouthwash is not a substitute for brushing and flossing.
Everyone’s teeth are naturally different colors. Yours may not be pearly white, and that’s fine. But certain foods and drinks can cause your teeth to discolor unnaturally. It’s unlikely that as a teen you will notice the effects already, but they will start to appear over time as you get older.
Cigarettes (which you shouldn’t be smoking anyway), coffee, tea, dark sodas, and red wine (which you shouldn’t be drinking at all) slowly stain your teeth unnaturally yellow over time.
Over-the-counter teeth whiteners promise a lot but often deliver very little. Those of you truly concerned with the color of your teeth should talk to your dentist about professional whitening. Keep in mind that it’s an expensive procedure probably not covered by your parents’ insurance.
GRINDING AND CLENCHING
Some people grind or clench their jaws at night while they sleep. Signs you might be one of those people include:
- Pain in your face or neck, especially around your jaw
- A powdery taste in your mouth when you wake up
- Unusually sensitive teeth
When this happens, it’s important to speak to your dentist as soon as possible about getting a night guard to protect your teeth, jaws, and neck.
Any kind of contact sport (like football) or a sport where you could potentially get hit in the face or head (like skateboarding) carries a risk of your teeth being broken or knocked out. A mouthguard may not be super comfortable, but it’ll be worth getting used to when you graduate with your full set of natural teeth.
GO TO THE DENTIST
Make that twice a year trip to the dentist! As a teen, your adult teeth are still brand-new. Regular visits to the dentist will help you keep them in the best condition you can as you transition into adulthood.
Take good care of your teeth now, and they’ll take care of you for decades to come!
Florida’s young entrepreneurs are encouraged to apply for a Kantner Foundation college scholarship. Learn more by clicking here!