Practicing good oral hygiene is something that can sometimes feel like an impossible task. No matter how long you brush and floss your teeth, there always seems to be more and more information about what needs to be done to effectively maintain a healthy smile.
Interestingly enough, much of this information has to do with decreasing the consumption of some of the foods you eat or limiting certain daily habits that lead to poor oral health. But with all of the conflicting information out there, how do you know what is right for you?
If you are looking to gain a deeper understanding of how you can achieve solid oral hygiene, this guide can serve as a blueprint for getting you there. Let’s get started.
The Importance of Your Toothbrush and Toothpaste
The importance of choosing the right toothbrush and toothpaste can’t be overstated. While many simply opt for the cheapest brush or paste that they can find, it is important that you do your homework to find which one offers the best possible protection.
For starters, you want to be sure you are choosing a brush that has a medium sized head and soft bristles. Using a brush with soft bristles will help prevent you from damaging your gums or enamel, which often happens with individuals who brush hard. It’s also a great idea to invest in an electric toothbrush. Electric toothbrushes do a more thorough job of reaching between your teeth and cleaning plaque and tartar that manual brushing often misses.
As for your toothpaste, you want to choose an option that has the necessary abrasives and detergents to reduce plaque. Reducing plaque is a major priority as plaque buildup can cause some major long term issues such as gum disease. Be sure to also choose an option that aligns with how sensitive your teeth are. There are special toothpastes available specifically for people who struggle with tooth sensitivity.
How to Brush Your Teeth
Brushing your teeth is something that you generally learn at a very young age. Unfortunately, however, many people are taught to brush their teeth incorrectly. Even worse, some are unsure about exactly how often they should be brushing their teeth and therefore do not have the habit in place.
Most dentists recommend that you brush your teeth at least twice a day. These sessions should last a minimum of two minutes to ensure that the entire mouth is getting a proper and thorough cleaning. The easiest way to develop a sustainable habit for brushing your teeth is to commit to brushing both when you wake up and before you go to sleep. If possible, it’s also a great idea to brush mid-day.
When brushing, you should be moving your bristles in a small, circular motion. You also want to be sure that you are brushing lightly, as you want to avoid damaging your gums. One of the easiest ways to ensure you cover everything sufficiently is by breaking your mouth down into six sections (top front, bottom front, top left, bottom left, etc.) and committing to 20 seconds of thorough brushing per section.
The Importance of Flossing
The importance of flossing is chronically underestimated by people throughout the world. While just about everyone understands the necessity of brushing their teeth, many are unaware of the role that flossing plays. Interestingly enough, there are many dental professionals that will tell you that flossing is actually even more important to your oral health than brushing is.
The reason that flossing is so important is because it is the most effective way to rid your teeth of plaque and clean below the gum line as well. A buildup of plaque on the teeth can, over a period of time, result in medical issues such as gum disease and gingivitis. For this reason, it is highly recommended that you floss at least once per day.
Making flossing a part of your pre-bedtime habits is generally considered to be the best option as it will allow you to rid yourself of the plaque that has built up throughout the day. When flossing, be sure that you are getting between all of your teeth, including the hard to reach spots in the back of your mouth.
Other Things That Contribute to Good Oral Hygiene
Other than brushing and flossing, using mouthwash is another important step of a good oral hygiene routine. Rinsing your mouth with antibacterial mouthwash after you’ve brushed and flsosed can help eliminate any bacteria that may be left over.
The fluoride in most mouthwash options is also an effective way of preventing tooth decay. While it can be effective, it is important to realize that mouthwash is in no way a replacement for brushing or flossing. Making it a part of your routine is fine, but do not get in the habit of thinking of it as a quick fix or a more convenient alternative to brushing and flossing.
Chewing gum is another great option for achieving solid oral hygiene. So long as the gum is sugar-free, the chewing action helps to activate saliva production, which helps your mouth to naturally fight against food acids and bacteria.
Going to the Dentist
It is recommended that all adults and children visit the dentist at least twice a year. Some individuals should have their teeth checked more frequently. This includes smokers, diabetics, patients with a history of chronic gum disease and some patients undergoing orthodontics(braces).
A dentist has the tools necessary to provide a deeper cleaning during your visit, and the necessary equipment to diagnose any potential issues that you could not identify on your own. In addition, they can provide you with more personalized information about what you should be doing to ensure your oral health.
When choosing which dental practice to go with, be sure that you are comfortable with the dentist, their staff, and the office before setting up an appointment. Do not be afraid to ask questions or inquire about referrals, as choosing your dentist is a process that you should not take lightly.