I’ve been very lucky to have good teeth genetics. There was just one little thing I didn’t realize – genetics don’t mean a thing if you don’t take care of your teeth. Unfortunately, because I could get away with bad habits when I was a child, I carried them over to my adult life. But never flossing and regularly forgetting to brush my teeth before going to bed got me to a point where I couldn’t go a month without having to visit the dentist for a bad tooth. So I decided to change up my game and adopt good, healthy habits to nurture and care for my teeth the way they deserve.
The first one I had to tackle was flossing. Before this decision to change my habits, I have never flossed in my life. But then I started talking to my dentist and researching and found that brushing my teeth actually cleans only two-thirds of my teeth! But a lot of food residue is still there in between our teeth and it can cause a lot of problems, from bad breath all the way to gingivitis. So I bought some floss and kept it in the bathroom next to my toothbrush. In the beginning it required a conscious effort to take the time to floss, but after a short while, it had become routine. Now I feel really strange and uncomfortable if I don’t floss in the evening, so I keep a small travel-size flossing package in my purse at all times.
Changing my diet
I live quite an active lifestyle, so my very-high-in-sugar diet didn’t bother me in any aspect, but then my dentist actually explained to me that some of the problems I’ve been having with my teeth are due to far too many fizzy drinks and sugary foods, and I immediately decided to change my diet. So now, instead of snacking on sugar-coated gummy bears, which were my favorite, I eat real, fresh fruit, which is actually helping in protecting my teeth, instead of hurting them.
I also almost completely cut out all fizzy drinks, by remembering a video I saw of a tooth being dipped into concentrated acid that is used in fizzy drinks and it severely damaging the tooth. To think that I’ve been doing that to my own teeth would stop me any time I was about to pick up a can of Coke. I’ve also started paying attention to the amount of calcium I take in, and I noticed that a lot of the sensitivity I had in my teeth went away. Now, I not only have better teeth, but an overall healthier diet and healthier body. The one thing I really couldn’t give up is coffee, but I noticed that if I get into the habit of brushing my teeth as soon as I’m done, it stains them far less, and I don’t have to wear a film over my teeth for the rest of the day.
For the longest time, I would skip brushing my teeth in the evening, or simply run over with my brush for a few seconds and consider it done. And while this is certainly better than doing nothing, it is not enough to keep our teeth healthy. I asked around for what brush would be the best to use, and my dentist told me to go for a medium or soft bristled brush. I always thought that the firmer the bristles, the better they will clean, but actually most of those brushes do more harm than good: they take off the protection layers from our teeth and they can often damage our gums.
The timing is also important, and using a small hourglass that counts down three minutes helped me actually realize how short my brushing used to be. Now I try to focus on what I’m doing and stay aware of the way I am cleaning my teeth and which areas I’m covering. I noticed that I now almost never wake up with bad breath and my gums never bleed after brushing.
Regular visits to the dentist
I was, as many others, one of those people who don’t like going to the dentist. I would schedule a visit only if my tooth wouldn’t stop hurting for an extended period of time; and even then, I would often skip it and reschedule. I’ve since learned how important it is to have regular visits, especially if you have genetically bad teeth or if they have been damaged from years of neglect. When I moved to a new city, for a while I kept traveling back to see my old dentist, because I was so scared of finding a new one, but now I’ve found a great dentist and I make sure to never miss an appointment.
I’ve learned how important it is to take care of our teeth and what are all the dangers that can happen if we neglect our teeth. All the changes I’ve made for the better have not only improved my teeth, but my life in general: I have a better structured morning, I eat better and I don’t have a lot of the problems with eating that I had before because I was sensitive to so many foods. Changing habits can be hard, but if we think about the end goal, it becomes a lot easier.