Toronto, ON – A sure sign of spring is when you roll your clocks ahead by an hour for daylight savings time. The Ontario Dental Association (ODA) suggests using this time as a reminder to book your dental appointment and revisit your oral health routine.

Since spring is synonymous with renewal, there isn’t a better time to see your dentist for a thorough cleaning and examination. Your dentist looks for more than just tooth decay; a dental exam can indicate how healthy your gums are and can reveal signs of oral cancer and other dental conditions.

“Dental diseases don’t often show symptoms until they’ve progressed,” says Dr. Victor Kutcher, President of the ODA. “Don’t wait until you’re suffering from pain or swelling – a dental exam can identify and diagnose problems before they become more serious.”

When it comes to your oral health, an ounce of prevention is definitely worth a pound of cure. When detected and treated at an early stage, most dental diseases are easier to treat and cost less time and money.

It’s also a good time for parents and caregivers to be proactive and take the kids to the dentist while they’re off school during the March break.

Here are some other tips to rejuvenate your oral health routine.

Spring-clean your mouth every day. Floss and brush your teeth, gums and tongue daily. If you don’t clean your mouth, any remaining food particles will attract bacteria, which cause bad breath and contribute to tooth decay. While you’re at it, replace your toothbrush if the bristles look worn and bent.

Throw away the cigarettes. People who smoke are three times more likely to have severe periodontitis (gum disease) than non-smokers. Tobacco is also a known risk factor for oral cancer. Talk to your dentist about your options for quitting.

Skip the sugar. When you consume sugary foods and drinks throughout the day, your mouth is at increased risk to develop tooth decay. Maintain healthy and strong teeth by having a balanced diet rich in calcium, phosphorous and vitamins A, C and D – whole grain breads and cereals, fruits and vegetables and lean meats – and cut down on the sugar.

Drink more water. The combination of sweetness and acidity in sodas, fruit juices and sports and energy drinks can lead to tooth decay and dental erosion. Make water your drink of choice – it keeps you hydrated, helps wash away any food particles from your teeth and it’s free!

Watch your mouth. Prolonged exposure to the sun can increase your risk of cancers, specifically to the lips and mouth. As the days get longer, regularly coat your lips with balm that contains protection against UVA/UVB rays.

“You don’t have to wait until spring to see your dentist, but if you need a reminder, the switch to daylight savings time is a good event to use,” says Dr. Kutcher. “Make this your new mantra: spring forward…into the dental chair!”