Oral Health Fitness
Like going to the gym to stay fit, maintaining good oral health and hygiene takes practice, disciple, and determination. Washboard abs, after all, don’t come after one or two visits to a local gym or a few minutes here and there on the treadmill.
Instead, it takes sticking to a routine. In the same way, healthy, disease-free teeth and gums don’t come by occasionally brushing when you feel like it. It takes a sustained effort over a long period. Like a fit body, healthy teeth and gums requires an investment in time, effort, and sometimes a little money.
Your Basic Oral Workout Routine
1. Brush Your Teeth
Brushing your teeth is a foundational routine that everyone and anyone that is serious about their oral health fitness should do. Brush your teeth twice per day with a soft brush head and using a fluoridated toothpaste.
Remember, like lifting too much weight at the gym and injuring yourself; it is possible to brush too much or too hard. Avoid damaging your gums by brushing gently.
Flossing is like squatting - it’s essential, but not enough people do it, and when done with the wrong technique or incorrect form, injuries are often the result.
I recommend flossing at least once per day for 2 minutes.
3. Visit your dentist often
More importantly, routine visits will allow your dentist to examine your mouth and catch any potential issues early. Like personal trainers at the gym, a dentist and quality hygienist will provide you with useful advice on proper oral health fitness techniques.
4. Use mouthwash
Mouthwash is a proven and effective way to temporarily eliminate bacteria from the oral cavity. It’s also easy to use and can reach areas of the mouth that may be difficult to reach with a toothbrush or piece of floss.
However, mouthwash should not be relied upon exclusively for proper oral fitness. It is more of a complementary exercise designed to supplement your core routines.
I recommend using mouthwash a minimum of 3 times per week.
The Advanced Oral Workout
For those who have mastered the basics of a healthy oral fitness routine, consider adding these more advanced techniques to your oral health workouts.
Try an Interdental Brush
Tired of flossing? Try using an interdental brush. Like a toothbrush, an interdental brush has bristles which can provide a better clean in between your teeth than a simple piece of string.
Scrape Your Tongue
The tongue is an often overlooked repository of plaque and food debris. Try taking a tongue scraper and using it to skim excess bacteria and leftover food scraps off of your tongue.
Massage Your Gums
Like a good massage for your muscles after an intense workout, gently massaging your gums with your fingertips also has health benefits as well. A thorough gum massage promotes blood flow to the gums and helps to stimulate them.
5. Drink water
It is critical to oral health, as it is for exercise, to stay hydrated. Drinking water rinses your teeth of food debris and plaque. Furthermore, keeping your mouth moist and your body hydrated keeps destructive dry mouth, or xerostomia, at bay.
I recommend carrying a bottle of water with you everywhere you go and sip on it often.
6. Eat healthy
When it comes to a fit body, exercise is only half the battle. The other half is having the discipline and strength of mind to maintain a healthy diet. This is true for oral health fitness as well. What you eat plays a significant role in dictating the health of your teeth. Not only does food provide nutrition, but it also comes in direct contact with your teeth.
For a diet that complements your oral health fitness routine, try to avoid sugar at all costs. Sugar (Tasty Candy That's Good for Your Teeth -- No Kidding) fuels the growth and proliferation of destructive bacteria.
Also, be wary of highly acidic food and drinks, such as citrus juices, which can leach minerals out of your dental enamel in a process known as acid erosion.
7. Rinse and repeat
Do these basic oral fitness practices, and you will see good results in no time.