Taking good care of your mouth not only affects the health of your smile. It also helps you perform better at school or work, contributes to higher self-esteem, and better job prospects, and increases your chances of success throughout life!
Not only that, a healthy smile can help your whole body stay healthier! That’s because the oral bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease can spread to the rest of your body and contribute to systemic health issues. Here are a few examples:
Unhealthy gums can affect blood sugar levels and inflammation throughout the body.
Oral bacteria contribute to mental health issues including depression, anxiety, and Alzheimer's.
Oral bacteria in the bloodstream can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Healthy dental hygiene habits, a diet that is low in sugar and starches, and routine dental visits will set you up for a lifetime of good oral health.
A baby's oral health begins developing before they are even born. When moms keep their mouths healthy, their babies will be healthier too.
Visit the dentist while you are pregnant. Caregivers can pass along germs that may cause cavities.
Avoid passing germs that may infect your baby’s teeth when they come in. Wash pacifiers in warm, soapy water–not with your mouth.
Take your baby to your dental care provider when their first tooth appears or by their first birthday. Doing so helps to prevent fear of the dentist.
Don’t put your baby to bed with a bottle or sippy cup containing anything but water. The sugars in milk or juice can cause rampant decay when teeth are exposed all night.
Before feeding, wash your hands, baby’s hands, and bottles to avoid transmitting germs that can cause decay or make your baby sick.
After feeding, clean baby’s mouth, cheeks, and hands with a soft cloth and warm water.
Once baby’s first tooth erupts, brush two times every day. Use a small, soft toothbrush with a smear of fluoride toothpaste.
Follow these tips to help children develop healthy habits that will last throughout their life. Show your child that healthy oral habits are important. Brush and floss together every day.
Brush your child’s teeth two times each day, especially before bedtime. As they grow in independence, allow them to brush their own teeth but always check to be sure they are brushing all the surfaces.
Use a smear of fluoride toothpaste for children under age two and a pea-sized amount for children older than two years.
Take your child for a dental check-up every six months to spot issues that can't be seen at home and before they grow into a bigger problem.
Ask your dental care provider about fluoride varnish application to help strengthen teeth and prevent decay.
Prevent dental injuries by playing on playgrounds surrounded by soft surfaces such as sand, mulch or mats.
Instead of sugar-sweetened drinks or juice, give your child water. Tap water with fluoride will help keep teeth strong!
Do not give hard or sticky candies because they bathe teeth in sugar and feed the bacteria that cause cavities. (Find fun alternatives to candy this Halloween!)
Avoid snacking all day on starchy foods like crackers. They help oral bacteria thrive and stick to teeth like glue!
Keep up with regular dental visits! Guide older kids to make healthy food choices to carry through adulthood. Introduce new oral health skills like daily flossing and use of fluoride rinse.
Post a tracking chart in the bathroom and reward kids with a gold star for each day of great oral care!
Replace toothbrushes every three months and after every illness to avoid bacteria and germs.
Clean orthodontic appliances daily using a denture-cleansing bath. Rinse well.
Ask your dental care provider about fluoride varnish and dental sealants to protect teeth from decay.
Help athletes prevent dental injuries while playing sports by wearing a mouthguard.
The acids in soda, sugary sports drinks, and energy drinks dissolve the enamel that protects teeth from decay. Drink tap water instead.
Do not give hard or sticky candies like taffy as they can pull off dental sealants that prevent cavities.
Avoid oral piercings as they are prone to infection, can crack teeth, and cause gum recession (which can eventually cause tooth loss!) Read more about popular dental trends that can ruin your teen's smile.
As teeth age, extra precautions should be taken to avoid decay and tooth loss. Regular dental visits are essential! Aging teeth and gums need extra gentle care to avoid erosion and recession.
If dexterity is an issue, try an electric toothbrush with soft bristles for gentle cleaning.
Arthritis can complicate flossing. Try pre-threaded flossers, tiny brushes or water flossers.
Don’t skip dental check-ups! Dental care providers can spot many kinds of health issues, including cancer.
Medications can cause dry mouth, increasing the risk of decay. Ask your dentist about treatment.
October is Dental Hygiene Month! Join our campaign to help your community learn about the importance of having a healthy smile (and access this article as a printable sheet) at MySmileMatters.org.