Although I have quite a fear of dentists, something that’s changed for me as I’ve gotten older is a sincere desire to have healthy teeth that will last for as long as possible. Before, my phobia ruled and that meant my mouth suffered for it.
I have a few bad habits that don’t help (love coffee, pop, sweets, hate flossing), but with some determination, I’ve been able to successfully bounce things back into pretty decent shape.
A big part of my success has been seeing a dentist regularly as well as a great hygienist. This is key, but there are also steps that can be done at home to improve oral health.
A dental team can’t work magic overnight and if you’ve neglected professional care for years like I did, chances are your gums are suffering. They start to recede, teeth develop sensitivity and when the situation gets bad enough, real problems develop that won’t be turned back.
After a certain point, complete healing is no longer possible and the window to turn the situation around closes. This is why the sooner a person starts, the better.
I had no idea that it wasn’t just our chompers we should worry about! Plaque and bacteria build up and gums then become inflamed. If left unchecked, periodontitis arises which then causes serious damage (gums shrink and molars begin to loosen).
Here are a couple home treatments to try when struggling with gingivitis problems or hoping to prevent them…
- Mix 1/2 cup warm water with 1 TBS apple cider vinegar and use as a rinse for about 1 minute. Spit out, don’t swallow.
1 or 2 TBS salt
Glass of warm water
- Mix the two ingredients then swish around for approximately one minute. Spit out then finish off with a plain water rinse.
- Listerine (original) is not tasty or pleasant, but you get accustomed to it. A daily rinse is believed to be beneficial for oral care. Many times I’ve heard this recommended for smokers. Some find Listerine makes the inside of the mouth feel like it’s on fire or experiencing a severe acid burn (or what one imagines it would feel like, lol), but that eases over time the more it’s used. If you find this product intolerable, try another brand of antibacterial mouthwash.
Snappy Living recommends not brushing too hard to prevent damage (see this page), it’s a bad habit I’ve had to fight myself. Another beneficial practice is adding an extra brushing session to my day, just a light scrub, and being more attentive to how I do it.
No getting around it, flossing daily can repair some damage. If you find it clumsy, messy and awkward (I do), try different tools. Dental floss picks are cheap, easy enough to use and they do cut back on any slobbery awkwardness. Check out the local drugstore to see what’s available, there might be a product that seems better suited.
If you’re a smoker, you already know how unhealthy this is so I won’t bug you about it. However, just a heads up that smoking does affect the mouth and increases the rate of receding gums (stains the enamel too). If not ready to knock the habit, try a preventative gargle with water (or mouthwash) right after a cigarette. Such a simple step to do and it may help delay deterioration.
Periodontal disease may be successfully fought with a few no-hassle steps (listed above) and a commitment to professional care. An annual cleaning goes a long way to avoiding serious issues down the road. It’s not fun to go through when terrified, but let both the dentist and the hygienist know you have fears and they’ll be extra gentle. Over time you’ll calm down and the appointments will get easier since the problems will be fewer and less serious.