Did you know the average American spends $978 on dental health every year and around $5,000 on comprehensive orthodontic treatment? While many people get more dental care than others, some people are looking for ways to maintain healthy teeth without taking out a personal loan. Paying for your children’s braces is one thing, but fixing a chipped tooth because of something avoidable that you ate is another.
Even if you have been told that you have great teeth, you must take the right steps every single day to prevent problems and ensure healthy teeth in the short and long term. This involves implementing good habits daily and using the right oral care products.
Here are our recommendations for dental strategies and good habits you can implement regularly to help you save money and your smile:
While this is the most obvious habit to implement to maintain healthy teeth, it is one that many people ignore. Sadly, 23% of American adults over the age of 24 have gone two or more days without brushing their teeth. For adults between the ages of 18 to 24, that number is 37%, according to The American Dental Association.
Brushing and flossing your teeth regularly is the most inexpensive and effective way to improve and maintain your smile. The American Dental Association recommends brushing at least twice a day for two minutes each time and flossing at least once a day.
To get the most out of each brush, apply medium pressure and move the toothbrush in small, circular motions. This habit not only gets rid of bad breath but it is also the first line of defense against tooth decay, plaque and tartar buildup, and even gum disease.
Interested in knowing what other healthy habits you should implement daily? Check out our blog 14 Habits to Implement for Better Mental and Physical Health.
Have you ever noticed a white film on the surface of your tongue? Plaque is a film of bacteria that coats the inside of the mouth after eating and drinking. While most people are effective at getting rid of plaque from their teeth and gums when brushing, it is important to keep in mind that plaque can also build up on your tongue. Carefully scrub the surface of your tongue with the bristles or the back of the toothbrush every time you brush your teeth to remove plaque.
You might think you need to brush right after you eat or drink. However, it is actually better to give your mouth time to finish processing your food, especially after consuming something acidic or sugary. Why? When you consume acidic or sugary foods and beverages, some of that substance is left on the surface of your teeth.
If you brush right after eating or drinking, you will actually end up spreading that acid and sugar around on your teeth. The enamel on your teeth is softened by these substances, which means you are irritating the weakened enamel.
While the easiest way to avoid this is to not consume sugary or acidic foods and drinks, you should also wait about 30 minutes after a meal before brushing to give your mouth enough time to remove these substances naturally.
Most dental insurance plans will cover one checkup every six months, which is how often you should see your dentist for regular cleanings and to maintain healthy teeth. These checkups are just as important as general physicals or wellness checks at your primary care physician because your dentist can inspect your teeth to identify and address any issues before they become bigger, more expensive problems.
Even if your insurance does not cover two visits per year, the out-of-pocket cost can be a small price to pay versus the hundreds or thousands of dollars you might have to pay if you avoid the dentist and significant problems arise.
No toothbrush is meant to last forever; even the more costly electric toothbrush heads should be interchanged. The longer you use a toothbrush, the less effective it can become. Some of the cheaper toothbrushes might only last a few weeks before they start shedding bristles.
For most toothbrushes, three months is the average maximum amount of time you can use them before they start to lose their effectiveness. Replacing your toothbrush (or head) a few times per year is a great way to ensure healthy teeth and a cost-effective way to get the most out of your brushing sessions.
You also want to make sure you are investing in toothbrushes with soft bristles, which are less damaging to your enamel and can eliminate food particles without irritating your teeth. It’s also important to regularly clean your toothbrushes. You can easily do this with mouthwash or by soaking your toothbrush in a baking soda and water mixture. This will ensure that your brushes stay as clean as possible throughout the duration of use.
Additionally, you should switch out your toothbrushes every three months due to the inevitable build up of bacteria. Even if you regularly clean your toothbrushes, bacteria will build up and it’s important to keep that in mind.
Whitening your teeth professionally through your dentist is the most effective way but can be costly. On a budget, there are several over-the-counter whitening toothpastes that can help prevent discoloration over time and remove surface stains caused by coffee or smoking.
When used a few times per week, these toothpastes can take anywhere from two to six weeks to take effect. Although whitening toothpaste is typically designed to minimize wear on tooth enamel and maximize cleaning, be careful to follow manufacturer recommendations.
Here are a few great non-toxic whitening toothpastes that can be safer to use:
Next to brushing and flossing your teeth regularly, being mindful of what you eat is an extremely effective way to ensure long-lasting and healthy teeth. Eating healthy foods is also the best way to prevent your teeth from staining over time. While you do not have to stop eating staining foods, it’s important to be smart when you consume them so you don’t go overboard. You should also rinse your mouth afterward, then brush your teeth 30 minutes later.
Here are some of the top staining foods you should limit or avoid:
For more insights and tips on healthy eating and limiting your sugar intake, check out our blog Maintaining a Healthy Diet: Recommended Daily Sugar Limit and Healthier Sugar Alternatives.
A cracked or chipped tooth can not only be painful but expensive to fix as well. This is why it is important to also avoid chewing on hard foods like candy, bones, and popcorn kernels. Protect your teeth by not biting into hard objects and avoid using your teeth for anything beyond chewing. For example, avoid chewing your fingernails or biting down on ice. You will also want to stop using your teeth to open things like potato chip bags or to undo tight knots.
Even though masks and face coverings are widely used today, that does not mean you should neglect your dental health. Some of these daily habits will not only benefit your teeth but also your overall physical well-being. Ultimately, it is important to remember that achieving healthy teeth takes a lifetime of care. The above tips will not only save you money, but they might also give you a million-dollar smile.
Good dental care can also minimize the chance of tooth decay and gum disease as well as help your cardiovascular health.
Want to try using a whitening toothpaste? Download our free recipe for creating your own DIY teeth-whitening toothpaste.