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Six Lifestyle Tips for Protecting Your Long-term Oral Health

The lifestyle that you have today will determine many aspects of your health in the future, including your oral health. In fact, children and adolescents who grow up with good hygiene habits are less likely to develop oral problems in adulthood. However, it doesn’t stop there. As we grow older, our lifestyle continues to affect the health of our teeth and gums, particularly how many teeth we get to keep and how healthy they are in the long term.

With that in mind, here are several lifestyle tips that can help you have great long-term oral health starting now.

1. Get oral surgery as soon as possible

If you suffer from a disease or defect that affects your jaws, mouth, or face, it’s best to undergo maxillofacial surgery (otherwise known as oral surgery) as soon as your dentist recommends it. Certain diseases or defects such as impacted wisdom teeth, jaw misalignment, and congenital problems can get worse over time and heavily affect one’s day-to-day living. And aside from pain and discomfort, some maxillofacial defects and diseases can bring down one’s self-esteem due to the physical malformations they cause.

Thus, correcting the problem as early as possible can help set you up for better long-term oral health—as well as give you more confidence in your smile as you grow older.

2. Maintain a good oral hygiene regimen

Having healthy teeth and gums requires a lifetime of good oral hygiene. Brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash regularly make you less susceptible to oral diseases, such as cavities, gingivitis, and periodontitis, among many others. Avoiding these diseases reduces the risk of losing your teeth too early to tooth rot and destruction.

That said, do not slack off on your oral hygiene regimen—ever. What only takes just a few minutes every day can save you from a lifetime of oral problems in the future.

3. Consider adult braces

Many people who have tooth misalignment, overcrowding, overbites, underbites, and other dental problems acquire braces in childhood or adolescence to correct the condition as early as possible. However, some individuals don’t have the means to get braces until adulthood—or develop a condition that needs braces past adolescence.

Understandably, it can be awkward or even uncomfortable to wear braces as an adult. However, the longer the problem persists, the worse it can get—both for your self-esteem and your oral health. That said, it is better to get braces now than to suffer the consequences later in life. If you don’t feel comfortable wearing metal braces, ask your orthodontist if you can get lingual braces (braces that fit at the back of the teeth) or Invisalign instead.


4. Stop smoking

Smoking leads to many dangerous effects on your health. In terms of oral health, tobacco products help plaque and tartar proliferate; restrict the blood flow to the gums, which can lead to bleeding and infections; and increase your risk of oral cancer. Moreover, smoking can stain your teeth yellow and cause unpleasant breath.

The earlier you stop smoking, the better it is for your teeth and gums, as well as other aspects of your health. If you need assistance with smoking cessation, talk to your doctor about possible treatment options, including cognitive behavioral therapy, nicotine replacement therapy, and telehealth support.

5. Avoid abusing your teeth

Your teeth are meant to masticate food. They are not scissors to cut open packages, bottle openers to take off caps, or an extra hand to hold objects. So, stop using your teeth as tools. In doing so, you are effectively wearing down your teeth and may even cause them to shift out of alignment. If you are not careful, you may even accidentally crack a tooth or even completely take it out of your mouth.

Similarly, avoid chewing on hard objects such as ice, hard candy, peanut brittle, and the like, especially if your teeth are already weak in the first place.

6. Use fluoride toothpaste

Fluoride is a mineral that is the most beneficial to the teeth because it reinforces your tooth enamel, slows down mineral loss, prevents the growth of bacteria, and can reverse early signs of cavities. Regardless of the brand or type of toothpaste you use, always make sure that it contains fluoride.

Moreover, dentists recommend not rinsing your mouth after brushing to allow the fluoride to stay on your teeth longer.

Following just one or two of these tips can help set you up for better long-term oral health. Talk to your dentist or orthodontist to learn more about how you can keep your teeth healthy and strong for as long as possible—even when you’re already well into adulthood.

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