Self-care isn’t always lighting a candle and drawing a hot bath while brewing your favorite cup of tea. Self-care is sometimes choosing to actively and mindfully focus on improving part of your health, and one of the simplest ways to be more proactive is remedying commonly overlooked minor dental or oral health issues. While you may not be able to get into your dentist’s office, you can make plenty of self-care power moves for a fresher, cleaner, healthier smile at home. 

1. Dry Mouth

Dry mouth is a common condition. It’s so common that the numbers on how many people live with this condition aren’t quite clear — estimates from the American Academy of Oral Medicine range from 1% of the population to 65%.

While a lack of saliva — also called xerostomia — can be indicative of disease, its causes are usually more benign, ranging from not drinking enough water, medication side effects or even seasonal allergies. 

 

Saliva is crucial to the proper digestion of food, and dry mouth can contribute to cavities, gum disease, bad breath and a host of other dental issues. Fortunately, there are a number of self-care measures you can take at home to remedy the condition: 

 

  • Drink more water — aim for at least 65 ounces of water daily. Sip on it after meals and during times when your mouth feels parched.
  • Use sugar-free gum or candy — if you’re having trouble getting your spit moving, sucking on sugar-free hard candy or chewing a piece of sugar-free gum can help. 
  • Avoid alcohol mouthwash — switch to an alcohol-free rinse to avoid further drying out your mouth. 

2. Bad Breath

Bad breath, or halitosis, is common yet embarrassing. Like dry mouth, it can sometimes be linked to underlying health issues, but it can often be remedied or improved by increased attention to oral health care at home. Kick halitosis to the curb by trying these simple steps: 

 

  • Drink more water — this can help remove any stuck-on food particles and increase saliva production, leading to fresher breath instantly. 
  • Watch your diet — carefully monitor or ditch sugary snacks or smelly foods if bad breath is a concern. While onions and garlic have great dietary benefits, they can make bad breath worse, at least for a time after eating. 
  • Refocus on the basics — make sure you’re properly brushing your teeth, tongue and gums. Switch to a new toothbrush if yours has seen better days. Floss to remove food and bacteria from hard-to-reach surfaces and consider a mild mouthwash to kick up fresh breath to a new level. 

3. Biofilm

Do your teeth feel like they’re wearing fuzzy sweaters? Tongue feel like it’s got a coating? It could be biofilm — the accumulation of “gunk” and “funk” in your mouth due to natural bacterial activity. While biofilm is best removed with a professional dental cleaning, there are definitely steps you can take at home to reduce the effects of biofilm while you wait for your next appointment.

  • Focus on the fundamentals — proper brushing, flossing and rinsing can go a long way in keeping plaque and biofilm at bay, even removing not-yet-established colonies of bacteria that are starting to form a layer of plaque. 
  • Switch up your snacks — rough fruits and vegetables are sometimes termed “nature’s toothbrushes” for the way the mechanics of chewing them can help remove gunk from your mouth. If your teeth and tongue are feeling especially icky one day, consider chomping on carrots, celery or an apple for your midday snack. 
  • Pay attention to your tongue: a tongue scraper can help remove buildup from your tongue, especially if regular brushing isn’t quite cutting it. These simple tools make a powerful addition to your oral self-care arsenal. 

Cleanings Are Important

While there’s a lot you can do at home to remedy or improve oral health concerns, the best way is through regular, twice-yearly cleanings from your dental health professional. Good self-care — and discussing your concerns with your dentist when you’re in their chair — all play a part in keeping these common but bothersome conditions from ruining your smile.

While the office of Drs. Krieger and Hur is not currently open, we are looking ahead and continuing to look out for your concerns. Feel free to email us by clicking here to discuss any concerns or to stay updated about future openings for appointments. We cannot wait to see your smiling faces once again.