Preventive care saves money
As anyone without dental insurance (like me!) can tell you, dental care is expensive. In a previous post I share some ideas for saving money at the dentist.
But the best thing you can do, and teach your kids to do, is take care of your teeth. Healthy teeth save money.
That means taking time to care for your teeth EVERY DAY.
Did you know that with proper oral care small cavities can heal themselves? If your dentist finds a small cavity, ask about watching and waiting for a few months to see if you can avoid the expense of a filling.
Follow these healthy teeth dos and don’ts.
Healthy teeth do:
- Brush twice a day with a good toothbrush (replaced every 6 months or so) and an ADA-approved fluoride toothpaste. Brush for a full two minutes! Use a timer if you don’t use a Sonicare-type brush with a built-in timer. Dentists generally agree that the length of brushing time is more important than the brand of toothbrush you use. Expensive electronic toothbrushes that require crazy-expensive replacement heads aren’t necessary.
Related post: Sonicare toothbrushes and gum recession
- Wait an hour after eating before brushing. The acids in food soften your teeth’s enamel, and brushing too soon will damage the enamel.
- Floss at least once a day.
- Use a fluoride rinse (cheapest store brand) after brushing, as well. The mechanical action of swishing helps further clean your teeth, especially in between. The extra fluoride helps, too, but you have to swish for at least one minute and then not eat or drink for at least half an hour after.
Related post: Is mouthwash necessary for good oral health?
- Drink more water, especially after meals and snacks. Water helps dilute the acids and sugars that want to cling to your teeth.
- Snack on apples, carrots and celery. These hard snacks help clean your teeth and strengthen your gums.
- Chew sugarless gum with xylitol. Gum, especially after meals, helps clean your teeth (and freshen your breath!). And xylitol, a sugar substitute, might actually prevent dental decay.
- Maintain a nutritious diet. Our teeth, like the rest of our bodies, need a variety of vitamins and minerals to stay healthy. Minerals in our saliva help repair small areas of decay.
Healthy teeth don’t:
- Don’t multitask while you brush. This is one I’m guilty of! I try to tidy up the bathroom or read my email while I brush. But it’s distracting and I know I’m not paying enough attention to properly cleaning my teeth.
- Don’t smoke. Yellow teeth, bad breath, gum disease…enough said!
- Don’t use a toothpick as dental floss. Using toothpicks too aggressively to clean between your teeth or to dig under your gums can damage your enamel or gum tissue.
- Don’t overbleach. While a certain amount of whitening is probably OK (I’ve never whitened my teeth), the bleach softens and damages your enamel, and if done frequently will cause permanent enamel loss. Which will look worse than slightly yellow teeth.
Related post: How NOT to whiten your teeth