Following a consistent oral hygiene routine promotes and protects your smile and creates a better, more confident you. Practicing great oral hygiene also improves your overall health, attitude and is friendlier on your budget because you avoid and/or treat serious dental problems. While you may think you know everything about maintain great oral health, it’s always a good idea to “brush up” on some basic oral hygiene tips and techniques to protect your amazing smile for a lifetime.
Brushing teeth the right way
If you’re haphazardly brushing your teeth for 30 seconds in the morning and 30 seconds at night, you’re doing it wrong. It’s good that you’re brushing your teeth at all, but adding in more time and the right technique improves oral health substantially. Some basics of brushing the right way include:
- Brushing twice a day, first thing in the morning and right before bed work well
- Take your time and brush for at least 2 minutes to do a thorough job
- Use a toothbrush that fits your mouth comfortably and has soft bristles
- Use toothpaste that contains fluoride
- Use good technique – Hold your toothbrush as a slight angle against teeth and brush using short side-to-side motions.
- Brush inside and outside surfaces of teeth and your tongue. Don’t brush too hard as this can irritate and damage gums. Opt for a battery-powered or electric toothbrush to do the work for you, but again don’t scrub hard.
- Rinse your toothbrush after brushing and store it upright to let it dry and prevent bacteria growth
- Replace your toothbrush or powered toothbrush head every 3-4 months or sooner if it’s fraying or if you’ve been sick
There are areas in your mouth that your toothbrush can’t reach even with your best efforts. Brushing can’t reach under your gum line or between your teeth, which is why daily flossing is an essential step for good oral hygiene. Many people avoid flossing thinking it’s too much work, but the more you do it, the easier it becomes and the right technique makes all the difference. When flossing follow these tips:
- Use enough floss, about 18 inches and wind each end around both middle fingers leaving 1 inch between them to floss the first tooth
- Work one tooth at a time by using your forefingers and thumb to pull the floss down gently to the gum line and then back to the top, rubbing against all sides of the tooth as you move
- Unwind fresh floss from the amount wrapped around your fingers for each tooth
If it’s difficult for you to get normal floss between your teeth, try a thinner or waxed variety. When dealing with floss is too challenging due to arthritis or other condition, try an interdental cleaner or floss holder to clean between your teeth. Ask your dental professional about the best way to floss your teeth, as everyone’s mouth is different.
Additional tips for oral hygiene
Along with brushing and flossing daily, using an antimicrobial mouth rinse helps reduce plaque between your teeth. If you’re considering using a whitening mouth rinse or toothpaste, talk to your dentist first to avoid potential issues with tooth sensitivity. For removing food particles from your teeth, investigate adding an oral irrigator to your brushing and flossing as it works by aiming a stream of water at your teeth. Never use toothpicks or other objects to clean your teeth as they can cause injury and damage.
Know when to visit the dentist
Regular dental cleanings and exams, usually every 6-12 months, are an extremely important part of great oral hygiene. Your dentist has all the tools and technology required to diagnose and address any potential problems they find. Along with your regularly scheduled visits, you should contact your dentist if you notice any of the following issues:
- Swollen, red, tender or bleeding gums
- Gums pulling away from teeth
- Alterations in teeth and bite alignment
- Loose permanent teeth
- Unusual taste in mouth or persistent bad breath
- Noticeable sensitivity to cold and hot
Practicing good daily oral hygiene including regular dental visits, brushing your teeth, gums and tongue, flossing and using mouthwash helps ward off bacteria that lead to tooth decay, oral infections, and bleeding gums. Great oral hygiene also keeps your entire body healthy, especially if you already have health risk factors including heart disease or diabetes. Add into that the fact that a clean, healthy mouth boosts your self-esteem by preventing embarrassing bad breath, tartar and plaque, and you have every reason to continue to improve your daily oral care routine.
Get in touch with Greater Baltimore Prosthodontics to schedule a routine cleaning.