Have a beautiful smile that lasts a lifetime.

We all know how important it is to take good care of our bodies. After all, we get one body that must carry us through life, and while we can’t control everything about our health, doing what we can to take care of it helps ensure that we can live the longest, happiest life possible. Taking care of your teeth and oral health follows a similar line of logic. You’ll only ever have one set of adult teeth, so it’s important to keep that smile beautiful and naturally functional your entire lifetime.

You may have heard the stereotype about old people with lots of missing teeth, but that’s far from inevitable—especially with today’s knowledge about preventive dentistry and treatment options. Starting to care for your oral health now helps ensure that you’ll be able to maintain strong, functional teeth and your own natural smile your whole lifetime. It’ll even help you care for your overall health, too!

To help you get started, here are some easy ways you can keep your natural smile beautiful for your entire lifetime.

1. Practice good oral hygiene.

We know you’ve likely heard how important oral hygiene is, but its importance just can’t be overstated—especially the importance of building a proper daily oral hygiene routine! A good oral hygiene routine should include brushing your teeth for two minutes twice a day, flossing at least once a day, and using mouthwash daily by following the directions on the bottle. This routine prevents bacteria-filled plaque from building up on and between your teeth, keeping both your teeth and your gums healthy.

And while it may seem like just brushing your teeth is “good enough,” it’s vital to realize that each step of the process is equally important because they all clean areas of your teeth and gums that the other steps can’t reach. For example, flossing cleans between your teeth and along your gum line, areas the bristles of your toothbrush simply can’t reach. This is why flossing is such a crucial part of preventing gum disease—if you’re not flossing, you’re not cleaning every part of your teeth! Good oral hygiene is the basis for good long-term oral health. It even plays a significant role in your long-term overall health, so it’s worth it to invest just a few minutes in a regular thorough oral hygiene routine every day.

2. Stick to a healthy diet.

The food you eat fuels your body and impacts your health—including your oral health. Oral bacteria are fueled on sugary foods and drinks, as well as carbohydrate-rich foods, so it’s best to limit how often you eat and drink these things every day. Instead, stick with a healthy diet that includes a balanced amount of protein, fruits and vegetables, dairy, and whole grains. This is best for your teeth and overall health—it doesn’t mean giving up your favorite snack foods or delicious drinks entirely, but you should limit them.

Calcium-rich dairy products are especially good for you because calcium strengthens your bones and teeth—and the calcium actively counters acids in your mouth, protecting your teeth. Similarly, crunchy fruits and vegetables scrape plaque from your teeth as you chew, helping to clean them. That makes these foods a particularly great midday snack!

3. Consider getting sealants.

Dental sealants are a thin layer of protective material, usually made from plastic, that is placed over your molars to protect them from cavity-causing bacteria. They can be an incredibly useful tool in the fight against decay, reducing your risk of developing it in your molars by nearly 80%.

Sealants are often used for children who are still getting the hang of brushing and flossing their teeth properly, but they can benefit people of all ages—especially if you’re at a greater risk of decay. They can also be placed over areas of a tooth that have signs of early decay to stop it from progressing any further.

Sealants aren’t a replacement for oral hygiene, so you’ll still need to be careful to take good care of your teeth with a regular oral care routine, but they can make a huge difference in your oral health by providing a little extra protection.

4. Use fluoride to strengthen and protect your teeth.

Fluoride is a natural mineral that’s incredibly important for your oral health. It helps to strengthen enamel, which is the protective layer of your teeth, to protect it against decay. Additionally, while fluoride can’t reverse full-blown cavities, it can reverse signs of early decay by helping to remineralize tooth enamel.

Thankfully, there are plenty of ways you can ensure you’re getting enough fluoride! Some foods are a natural source of fluoride and it’s added to public water supplies in the U.S. to help prevent cavities. It’s so great that the CDC has even included the fluoridation of public water sources as one of the 20th century’s 10 great public health achievements. You can even make your daily oral hygiene routine more effective by using fluoridated toothpaste and mouthwash.

Fluoride treatments are also an option that can help strengthen and protect your teeth. They’re incredibly easy treatments that simply involve applying a fluoride varnish to your teeth, but they’re especially useful if your teeth are showing signs of early decay or have a higher risk of experiencing future decay.

5. Use a nightguard to stop habitual teeth grinding.

Teeth grinding, which you can do in your sleep without even knowing you are doing it, isn’t an uncommon habit, but it poses a significant risk to your teeth. Your teeth are strong, but they’re brittle, so clenching or grinding your teeth risks dental injuries like chips, cracks, or breaks. These injuries can mean an emergency trip to the dentist.

Minor injuries can be resolved with treatments like dental bonding, but major injuries may require a dental crown. Over time, clenching and grinding can also cause significant wear on your teeth, impacting the way they look, their function, and making them more vulnerable to decay. Extremely worn teeth may need dental crowns.

Thankfully, preventing this damage to your teeth is often relatively simple! If you clench or grind your teeth in your sleep, a simple solution is to wear a nightguard at night. This device is designed to be comfortable but stops your teeth from damaging each other while you sleep.

You can also use methods like stress management, meditation or mindfulness exercises, or treatment for issues like anxiety, as these can all be causes of teeth grinding. When you address teeth grinding, your teeth will be safer from injury—and you might even notice benefits like fewer headaches or jaw pain!

6. Schedule regular dental checkups.

Getting a dental checkup every six months is also a vital part of maintaining great oral health. The professional cleaning you get during your appointment plays an active role in preventing decay by removing plaque and hardened tartar from your teeth. Tartar bonds with the surface of your teeth, so it’s impossible for you to get it off during your regular oral hygiene routine at home.

A regular appointment also allows Dr. Harrison to spot issues like cavities and gum disease early—before they become major enough to pose a serious risk to your teeth! Just like regular checkups with your primary care physician are an important part of keeping your body healthy, regular dental visits keep your teeth healthy and strong in the long term.

Not only will you be able to maintain your natural smile, but focusing on preventive dentistry helps ensure that your natural teeth will have as much natural tooth structure as possible. It’s more than worth the investment of 45 minutes or so every six months!

7. Treat any cavities as early as possible.

Identifying and treating cavities as early as possible is an important part of keeping your teeth healthier in the short term and giving your smile the best chance to last your while lifetime. If Dr. Harrison identifies a cavity during your regular appointment, you should always get it treated as soon as possible. Waiting to treat cavities gives them the chance to get worse, requiring bigger fillings or even more extensive treatments, like a crown or root canal therapy. When cavities go untreated, they can even cause you to lose teeth, so treating them early is the best way to keep your teeth as healthy as possible—and to keep your teeth in general!

In the grand scheme of things, taking care of your oral health is pretty easy. Thankfully, it’s usually only a matter of developing and sticking to a few simple, healthy habits, most of which only take a few minutes out of each day. If you’re ready to start reaping the lifelong benefits of great oral health with the help of the best dentist in Plano, TX, feel free to schedule a consultation with Dr. Harrison at any time!