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A look inside your mouth or a test of your saliva can tell your doctor a lot about your overall health. Poor oral hygiene can lead to a number of problems, including problems with your heart. It’s critical to take proper care of your mouth in order to protect your general health. To make the most of your health and your oral hygiene, make sure you do the following.

Eat a Tooth-Friendly Diet

Oral health, as with all health, starts with your diet. The foods you eat can impact your oral health negatively or positively. Eat foods that are good for your teeth, such as fruits, nuts, chicken, cheese, and fresh veggies. Some of these, such as apples and many fresh veggies, act almost as a natural toothbrush, helping to scrape away the bacteria and debris on your teeth. All of them offer vitamins and minerals that are helpful to your teeth as well.

Brush Your Teeth

Brushing your teeth seems like a no-brainer, but many people are never taught how to properly brush. Professionals know that the first thing to understand is that brushing your teeth is only the beginning. You also need to brush your tongue, gums, and even the roof of your mouth. Brush lightly, let the bristles of the toothbrush do the work. Brush for at least two minutes, and brush at least twice a day, but no more than three times a day, unless instructed by your dentist. Don’t brush immediately after eating or drinking (unless you were only drinking water), as the foods soften the enamel of your teeth and you would then brush away enamel.

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Floss or Use a Waterpik

Brushing gets rid of the big stuff, and to a point, gets between your teeth. But to really get between them and make sure you’ve gotten out all the bacteria and food debris that can cause problems later, you need to floss or use a waterpik. Both are effective, so unless your dentist makes a specific recommendation, it’s a personal choice.

Eliminate Soda, Alcohol, and Tobacco Use

All of these substances are very harmful to your teeth. Tobacco can cause oral cancer, while alcohol and soda can both wear away the enamel of your teeth. Stick with mostly water, or drink other beverages that are better for your teeth, such as milk or tea.

Proper oral hygiene leads to better health overall. It also helps your doctor to better understand your overall health. Take good care of your mouth as the first step to taking care of your entire body.