by Kathleen Skarka, RDH, Long Island City

With just a few simple changes you (and your loved ones) can easily commit to better dental health in 2019 and the years to come.

Check your inventory. Invest in an electric toothbrush. Electric toothbrushes reach spaces and speeds that manual toothbrush does not reach. They are much more powerful, use it gently and always make sure the bristles are soft. Ask your dental hygienist which electric toothbrush is right for you. As a hygienist I take every patients’ oral needs into account and find the best way to incorporate it into a customized home care plan. It’s best to change your toothbrush, whether power or manual, every 2-3 months or when noticeably worn.

Sometimes the type of toothpaste we use gets overshadowed by all our other dental responsibilities. It may be a good idea to upgrade your toothpaste or even start using a daily mouth rinse. There are many pastes, rinses and tools available to help combat tooth decay, tooth sensitivity, bleeding gums (gingivitis) and bad breath.  As your body changes, so do the protective qualities of your saliva.  Diet, medication, pregnancy and stress are a few of the things that affect saliva and a modification in your home care products can help combat the negative effects of these changes. Be sure to consult your hygienist about specific recommendations that can be made to suit your current needs.

Brush-up on your technique. You have been brushing your teeth since you could hold the brush yourself, but are you doing it correctly? Watch yourself in the mirror. The tips of the bristles should be angled 45° toward the gum line, only moving back and forth over 2-3 teeth at a time. Even if you are using a new power brush, go slow. It should take a full two minutes, twice a day! Lastly, don’t forget your tongue. Bacteria harbored on the tongue can cause bad breath. Use a tongue scraper or your toothbrush in a downward motion to remove build up.

You are what you eat. There are many reasons to cut down on sugar in your diet, and your dental health is no exception. A diet high in sugar and complex carbohydrates can lead to tooth decay and the need for restorative treatment by the dentist.

Increasing the amount of water you drink has tremendous health benefits overall and can help maintain a healthy mouth as well.  Rinsing with water after eating can help dislodge food particles that would otherwise remain until brushed off, potentially hours later. Be aware, that adding lemon to your water makes it acidic, and should not be sipped at over the course of the day. Acid makes the enamel more prone to decay and can even make the teeth more sensitive. Always wait 30 minutes after having an acidic drink or food before brushing to avoid brushing away enamel.

Get to the dentist! Be sure to schedule a visit to your dentist every 6 months for a thorough cleaning and exam. Regular dental exams allow your dentist to evaluate symptoms you may be experiencing and look for signs of a problem you may not be aware of yet. Catching issues with early detection is always advantageous for a positive outcome.

Your dental visit is the perfect opportunity to discuss issues such as grinding or clenching your teeth at night. Grinding can cause extreme discomfort. We are here to listen to your concerns, share recommendations, and work together towards your goal of a healthier mouth for 2019.

Kathleen is a 1986 graduate of New York College of Technology with a degree in Dental Hygiene. She is New York State licensed in dental hygiene and to administer anesthesia as well as soft tissue laser certified. She enjoys interacting with patients and sharing her knowledge about the health of their mouth and how to maintain their healthy smiles. Kathleen is a Queens native and enjoys spending time with her husband and dogs exploring New York and other places around the country.

Book an appointment with Kathleen here!