The majority of people don’t enjoy trips to the dentist.  At best, it’s time taken out of your schedule; at worst, it’s an apprehensive and costly experience.  By following these tips, you can do a lot to manage your dental health yourself.

1)      Brush your teeth at least twice a day, for two minutes, holding your toothbrush at a 45 degree angle to your teeth.  Many dentists recommend using a fluoride-containing toothpaste and a toothbrush with round, soft bristles.

2)      Floss at least once a day, preferably before bed.  If you are unable to use traditional dental floss, floss alternative such as Waterpik™, Superfloss ™ and Stim-u-Dent ™ are available.

3)      Raw fruits and Veggies which are crunchy, such as apples, celery, and broccoli, help scrub plaque and debris from the surface of your teeth.

4)      Vitamin C is essential for healthy gums.  Since the US RDA for Vitamin C varies with age, know what your individual requirement is.  Vitamin C supplements are widely available, and many fruits and vegetables contain Vitamin C. 

5)      Calcium is essential for our body to be healthy, and for strong teeth and bones.  If you don’t have adequate calcium your body’s needs, your body will take it from any available source-your teeth and bones.  The US RDA for calcium is 1000 mg for adults, 1200 mg for children, and 1500 mg for post-menopausal women.  Calcium is available in supplements, most dairy foods, and some fruits and vegetables. 

6)      Minimize sugar and snacks.  The bacteria in your mouth love to eat sugar as much as you do.  If you indulge in sweets, be sure to brush afterward.  If you can’t brush, rinse thoroughly with water.  Potato chips and salty snacks are simple carbohydrates; they break down into bacteria-loving sugar. 

7)      Sodas are detrimental to your teeth in two ways.  They contain acid which wears down your enamel, and non-diet sodas contain sugar.  If you must have a soda, drink it quickly-don’t nurse it.  Taking small sips over a long period of time increases the time that acid and sugar remain on your teeth.

8)      Professional cleanings and exam at least twice a year to clean any areas you miss and detect potential problems early.  Twice yearly cleanings are painless and covered by most insurance plans.

9)      Stay hydrated.  Smoking, certain medications and illnesses can cause a reduction in saliva production.  Saliva helps wash away food particles and keeps bacteria in check.  Drinking plenty of water ensures that your body can make adequate saliva.  If you have chronic dry mouth, chewing sugarless gum, using sugarless hard candy, and using mouthwash for dry mouth will help.

10)   Don’t chew ice, croutons or any other hard item.  Chewing ice is hard on your teeth, and is also harmful to your jaw muscles.  Although your teeth are the hardest part of your body, they were not meant to crush ice, croutons, pencils or any other non-food item.

Following these 10 tips will go a long way in preventing cavities, gum disease, bad breath and tooth damage and discoloration.  Just remember to keep your teeth clean, drink enough water, eat right, and keep your cleaning appointments.