Just like most things in life, the basics of keeping your teeth clean and gums in good health are actually pretty simple. Brush your teeth twice a day, floss, and visit the dentist for a cleaning and clinical checkup twice a year. What most people find difficult is creating strong habits that help you do those easy things on a regular basis. Invest the time to create a solid oral health routine and your mouth will thank you for it.
Brush Twice a Day
You may think that brushing your teeth is pretty straightforward, but are you sure you’re doing it correctly? If you are going to invest the time in your oral health, it pays to review the right way to clean your teeth. First, the American Dental Association recommends you use a toothbrush with soft bristles that is the right size for your mouth. Toothbrushes come in different shapes and sizes, so use one that makes it easy to get to those hard-to-reach molars. Second, choose a toothpaste that is recommended by the ADA, and make sure that it has fluoride as one of the ingredients. Once you have the size figured out, be sure to practice good technique:
- Your toothbrush should be held at a 45-degree angle to the gum line.
- Move the toothbrush back and forth in short motions, roughly equal to the size of a tooth. Electric toothbrushes do this movement for you, so all you have to do is move the brush slowly around your mouth.
- Make sure to brush all three sides of each tooth.
- Be gentle, you don’t have to press down hard. Stick with short, gentle strokes.
While a lot of people have a good brushing routine down, many of us fall short when it comes to flossing. Flossing your teeth is incredibly important. You won’t be able to keep your teeth and gums healthy without instituting a regular flossing habit. The point of flossing goes beyond just removing food from between the teeth. When you floss, you disrupt the bacteria that creates plaque, the sticky residue that forms on the teeth. Plaque is the number one cause of gum disease.
There are many flossing products to choose from. Standard floss is usually made from nylon fibers twisted to create a strong strand. It’s often flavored with mint or cinnamon to make the experience more pleasant. Some people prefer floss picks because they provide a handle and are easier to maneuver. You can even use a water flosser, which uses a pressurized stream to get in between the teeth. Proper flossing technique includes working the floss between each tooth and gently rubbing up against both sides of the tooth and under the gum line. Repeat this action for each tooth, paying special attention to the molars in the back.
Make It a Habit
Just like your other personal hygiene tasks, oral care needs to be done on a daily basis. The more you do it, the more your body will start to crave the action. Start working toward taking care of your teeth right when you get out of bed in the morning. As for bedtime, don’t wait until your too tired in the evening, as soon as you’re done eating for the night, try brushing and flossing right away. Just like any habit, the more you do it, the more automatic it will become.
Keep your mouth healthy with a strong home oral health routine and visit your dentist for regular dental care twice a year. This will keep you free from bad breath and gum disease, and move you further along the path to excellent dental health!