It’s all about the heart this month!.
February is the month of Valentine’s Day and love, but it’s also American Heart Health month, which focuses on healthy heart awareness & doing little things that can help protect you from heart disease: The #1 cause of death for women and men in the US.
So, what’s something you can do to lower your risk of heart disease? Take better care of your teeth and gums. Why? Because poor oral hygiene can be bad for your heart. More studies continue to confirm this. In fact, one study showed that people who have their teeth professionally cleaned were 24% less likely to suffer a heart attack.
Practicing good oral hygiene can keep your heart healthy, especially if avoid some common mistakes. Here are some common oral hygiene mistakes you can avoid that your heart just might appreciate.
Avoid These 7 Oral Hygiene Mistakes!
- You Brush Too Hard – More brush power won’t make your teeth any cleaner or healthier, but it can damage their enamel, as well as harm your gums, such as a receding gum line. If you notice that your gums bleed after brushing, you may need to ease off your power stroke. Think of it like you’re massaging your teeth, not scrubbing them (to death). Use a soft-bristled toothbrush, hold it at a 45 degree angle toward your gum line, and gently brush in short, circular strokes One tip – check the bristles as your brush. If they bend, you’re brushing too hard. Use an electric toothbrush? Great, just don’t use it too forcefully either!
- Rinsing With Water Right After You Brush – Rinsing your mouth with water too soon after brushing can reduce the cavity fighting elements of your toothpaste. So, after you brush your teeth, spit out any excess toothpaste, but hold off on immediately rinsing your mouth out with water. For the fluoride in your toothpaste to be effective, it needs to sit on your teeth for at least two minutes after brushing — and not be washed away by water, as this dilutes and reduces its preventative effects.
- Not Switching Out Your Toothbrush Every 3 Months – Is this a marketing schtick to increase toothbrush sales? No. You want to reduce the bacteria (and germs) that build up over time on your brush. The longer you use a certain toothbrush, the more bacteria will accumulate on it. Also, over time, the bristles on your brush begin to wear out and these can eventually damage and irritate your gums. Rotating your toothbrush, or switching out the head of your electric brush, every 3 months actually benefits the health of your teeth + gums.
- Brushing Your Teeth Too Soon After Eating Certain Foods – Brushing right after eating isn’t always a good thing, especially after you eat or drink something that contains a lot of acids (orange juice), or sugars; even coffee. These foods/drinks can soften your tooth enamel for a short period, so brushing too soon after eating may actually damage the enamel. Rather than brushing your teeth after consuming these foods, rinse your mouth out with water. This will help dilute the acids and sugars in your mouth without damaging your teeth. You can then brush your teeth about 30 minutes later.
- Flossing After Brushing (Not Before) – It seems that flossing first, followed by brushing with a fluoride toothpaste, is more effective in removing plaque from your teeth. That makes sense. When you floss before brushing, this removes the particles and bacteria that get stuck between your teeth, which you can then flush out with your toothbrush.
- Neglecting to Brush an Area in Your Mouth – Every day is a new day, yet most of us start brushing our teeth in the same place. So, what’s wrong with this? By the time you reach the last portion of your daily brushing, you may wind up paying less attention to a particular area of your teeth because you want to hurry up or you’re bored. The American Dental Association actually recommends starting in a different place each time, so that all your teeth receive the same amount of tender loving care. Tip: Electric toothbrushes help solve this problem by giving you a reminder every 30 seconds to brush each of the four quadrants within your mouth.
- Not Brushing Your Tongue – Happy tongue, happy heart? Could be. You’d be surprised how much bacteria lives on your tongue. Billions. Most of the bacteria are normal, but keeping your tongue clean can help reduce gum disease – which isn’t good for your heart. Besides helping your heart by fighting gum disease, scrubbing your tongue can also reduce bad breath, which is something everyone can appreciate, especially your Valentine!
Avoiding some of these common oral hygiene mistakes will keep your teeth and gums healthy and lower your risk of getting gum disease. Now that’s something your heart will truly appreciate for many more Valentine’s Days to come!
If it’s been a while since your last dental exam, or you’re overdue for a teeth cleaning, please reach out to us – just call (206) 524-1000 or request your appointment here!