Our days are filled with competing and overlapping priorities. Get up in the morning. Go to work. Take care of the kids. Grocery shop for healthy foods. Etcetera, etcetera. But when things get busy, we can sometimes let some of those priorities fall by the wayside. However, taking care of our teeth and gums is just one of those priorities that must stay at the top of the list. When we fail to practice good oral hygiene, we are at greater risk for cavities, increasing the risk of needing a root canal or tooth replacement down the road. That said, we’ve put together a list of things you can do to prioritize your oral care at home and decrease your risks of developing tooth decay.

Avoid tooth decay by prioritizing your oral health.

Have you ever taken a moment to consider the importance of your smile? Our smiles are what make us more approachable to others. Smiles can attract someone romantically. A great smile can also help set us up for greater success at work. But when the busyness of our daily lives gets in the way and we deprioritize our oral health, our smiles can really take a beating.

The fact is that our oral health is directly linked to our overall health. So, every time we fail to brush our teeth or floss and skip that appointment to the dentist, we increase our risks for some greater health issues. For example, gum disease is correlated with a higher prevalence of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and memory loss. Poor oral hygiene is also connected with lower self-esteem, which can lead to anxiety and depression.

Thankfully, it isn’t that hard to prioritize your oral health and lessen your risks of tooth decay. Here is how to do it.

1. Eat a balanced, nutritious diet.

We know how hard it can be to sit down at the table to enjoy a meal, especially if you have a busy family life. But, eating a balanced diet high in leafy green vegetables, fruits, milk, yogurt, nuts, and lean proteins can benefit your body and your teeth.

2. Change your snacking habits.

When we’re on the go, a snack can help ward off food cravings and give us the energy we need to keep going. But it is essential to pay attention to the foods we reach for. Sweet treats like candy bars and soda may taste good, but they can lead to a sugar crash later and increase your risks for diabetes, obesity, and cavities. Grab some carrots and celery sticks or a handful of almonds as a snack alternative. And pay attention to how often you are snacking. If you eat more than one to three snacks per day at 100 calories each, it might be time to revisit your diet.

3. Drink water.

Invest in a healthy water bottle and fill it with tap water for filtered water every time you walk by the kitchen, especially when you head to work or out to run some errands. According to the Mayo Clinic, men need about 15.5 cups of water per day and women require about 11.5 cups. Water not only helps satisfy hunger cravings but also helps your body run more efficiently and actively. Drinking water also helps generate saliva production, which helps to rinse food particles from your mouth, helping to prevent tooth decay.

4. Don’t skimp out on brushing your teeth.

To prevent tooth decay, you should brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes at a time. When brushing, use a soft-bristled toothbrush and hold the bristles against the outside of your top teeth, near your gums, at a 45-degree upward angle. Gently sweep the toothbrush back and forth over your teeth and gums, or use an elliptical motion. Repeat this on the lower teeth and inside your mouth too. Be sure that each time you brush your teeth, you brush for two minutes for an effective clean.

5. Floss after brushing and after meals whenever possible.

If you are like most adults, you have finished a meal only to find yourself poking and prodding at your teeth with your tongue to try and rid them of food that has become lodged while eating. Even worse is when you flash a toothy grin and later realize you have a piece of meat or spinach between your two front teeth. To combat this, throw a floss container in your purse or the glove compartment of your car so it’s always readily available. Use the proper flossing technique to get between each of your teeth at least once daily. And, if you feel that something got stuck (or you have some free time), floss between meals to keep your teeth and gums as healthy as possible.

6. Stop the use of tobacco products.

Smoking and tobacco products not only shorten your life span and increase your risks of lung cancer and cardiovascular disease, but it also increases your risks of developing tooth decay and gum disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smoking can cause tender, bleeding gums, painful chewing, loose teeth (and risk of tooth loss), and sensitive teeth. If you smoke out of habit or to help you relax, try a healthy alternative such as drinking an extra glass of water, chewing sugarless gum, eating a tooth-friendly popsicle, or humming to yourself. The message here is to take the steps today to stop smoking tomorrow.

7. Prioritize your trips to the dentist every six months.

You increase your risk of tooth decay when you fail to visit your dentist every six months for a professional dental cleaning and oral examination. These dental visits are imperative because during your visit your dentist can remove harmful plaque from your teeth that can lead to tooth decay. Your dentist can also conduct an oral cancer screening and get in front of any potential oral health concerns. If you are avoiding the dentist because you’re afraid it will lead to more appointments, take note that patients who visit their dentist every six months are far less likely to require additional out-of-cycle visits than those who skip their appointments.

When you attend your preventive dentistry visit, your dentist can determine if you have a cavity and can fill it on the spot. If you are experiencing tooth pain, they can help provide you with some long-term relief. And if you show signs of gum disease, your dentist can conduct a deep cleaning to stop it in its tracks.

Visit your dentist in Middletown, OH, for more help prioritizing your oral care and lessening your risk of tooth decay.

With just a few changes to your daily life, you can better prioritize taking care of your teeth and gums. Simple things like swapping out a candy bar for a crunchy veggie, replacing your soda with a glass of water, quitting smoking, prioritizing brushing, flossing, and going to the dentist regularly will save you time and money down the road. Know that your dentist in Middletown, OH is always happy to be your partner in helping you improve your oral health. Request an appointment today for a professional dental cleaning, and set yourself on the path to preventing tooth decay.