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Five Tips to Better Oral Health

St. Louis is one of the best cities in the United States. Incredible art museums? Got ‘em. Science Center? Look no further. You like arches? Boy, do I have good news for you.

Oral health? St. Louis doesn’t have quite as good a reputation.

In 2012, a 2012 MSN Health article noted the City of St Louis as having the worst oral health of any American city. But the Gateway to the West doesn’t have to remain the Gateway to Cavities and Questionable Oral Hygiene. Follow Stallings Dental’s five daily oral health tips for a healthier, happier smile.

1. Brush your teeth twice daily. The CDC recommends brushing in the morning and before bed. During the day, plaque on teeth combines with sugar and forms acid. This can lead to tooth decay and can cause gum disease. But don’t rush the brush. Take two minutes to do a thorough job. Looking for a 2-minute-long song to keep you honest on your brushing time? Check out Fell in Love with a Girl by The White Stripes, Heartbreak Hotel by Elvis Preasley, and (if you feel like trading your mental health for dental health) Baby Shark by Pinkfong.

2. Use proper tooth-brushing technique. To start, make sure that you are using a soft-bristled toothbrush that fits in your mouth comfortably. (An electric or battery-operated toothbrush is an even more effective tool in reducing plaque and gingivitis.) Once you start brushing your teeth, move your toothbrush in gentle, circular motions over the front, back, and chewing section of your teeth. Don’t brush too hard; over-vigorous brushing can damage your gums and enamel. Once finished brushing your teeth, make sure to brush your tongue as well. Plaque can build up on your tongue, leading to bad mouth odor and other oral health problems. Replace your toothbrush (or invest in a new replacement head for electric toothbrushes) about every three to six months, or sooner if your bristles become flat or irregular.

3. Use fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride strengthens developing teeth in children and prevents tooth decay in children and adults alike. Many counties include fluoride in their water supply, which can help to fight plaque buildup and strengthen teeth. However, the fluoride level in tap water may not be high enough to fight tooth decay, in which case supplementation may be necessary. Make sure your toothpaste contains fluoride, and consider using a fluoride mouthwash. To see if your community’s water is fluoridated, you can view your water system on CDC’s My Fluoride website ( ).

4. Floss daily. Don’t wait to get to the dentist office to floss! Flossing daily can prevent tartar build-up, bad breath, and gum disease. Take one tooth at a time, and gently rub the side of the tooth in an up-down motion—don’t snap the floss on your gums. If you find it difficult to handle floss, use a dental pick, pre-threaded flosser, or water flosser.

5. Visit Stallings Dental every three to six months. Even the most diligent brushers and flossers need to regularly visit a dentist. At these check-ups, Dr. Stallings will remove calculus, look for cavities, spot potential issues, and offer treatment solutions. Even if you have no natural teeth or have dentures, visiting the dentist is still necessary. At these appointments, make sure to talk with Dr. Stallings about any special conditions or medical treatments. Cancer treatments, pregnancy, diabetes, and other conditions may require a change in the care of your teeth.

St. Louis is an amazing city—the first ice cream cone was created here, for crying out loud. By following these five simple daily tips, impeccable oral health can be yet another thing that makes St. Louis stand apart.