Good oral hygiene doesn’t stop at brushing and flossing every day. Here are all the ways you can make sure your teeth, gums, and your whole mouth stay healthy, clean and free of decay.
Regular Professional Cleanings & Checkups
Visiting the dentist regularly (for most people, that’s at least twice a year) is extremely important to your oral health.
The dentist has the tools and expertise to remove plaque and tartar buildup that brushing and flossing at home can’t remove.
Your dentist can also find and take care of developing dental problems that you won't necessarily notice. These include things like cavities, gum disease and even abnormalities like tumors and cysts, may not be noticeable to the untrained eye at first. The sooner these sorts of problems are dealt with, the less damage they’ll cause in the long term.
You should brush your teeth 2 - 3 times a day, for two minutes each time. Spend 30 seconds on each “quadrant” of teeth (upper right, upper left, lower right, lower left). Carefully brush all the exposed surfaces, including the sides and biting surfaces.
Pro Tip: Try an electric toothbrush
Electric toothbrushes can clean your teeth more efficiently than manual brushes do. The brushing movement is quicker and they require less work, making for an overall more effective and efficient cleaning process. Use an electric toothbrush with a rotating head that mimics the ideal circular brushing motion. The small round head also makes it easier to clean those harder to reach places.
You should floss your teeth at least once a day, ideally right before you go to bed. You can also add in a flossing session after lunch, to freshen up. Flossing removes debris and plaque stuck between your teeth, in the places your toothbrush can’t reach.
Pro Tip: The "C" Shape
Insert the floss between your teeth and run it carefully up and down the sides of each tooth, pulling it into a “c” shape both ways. Take your time!
Eating a healthy, calcium rich diet is also an important part of keeping your teeth healthy and strong. Keep sugars and starches to a minimum, as oral bacteria thrive in these.
Staying hydrated can help prevent cavities! Making sure that you drink enough water will help you maintain a healthy saliva flow in your mouth, and saliva plays an important role in washing away food debris and particles that would otherwise collect on your teeth and allow bacteria to thrive.
Supplementary Hygiene Aids
Consider adding supplementary hygiene aids to the mix for a hygiene boost. Some great supplementary aids include things like mouthwash, interdental cleaners, oral irrigators, and tongue cleaners.
These can all help keep your breath fresh and prevent plaque from building up between brushing and flossing sessions.
But remember, these types of tools should not be used to replace a thorough brushing and flossing routine.
Eliminating Bad Habits
There are certain bad habits you may have that could be causing cavities. Chewing your fingernails or chewing on hard objects (like the cap of a pen, for example) can cause chips and cracks in your dental enamel, making it easier for cavities to form in those spots.
Snacking frequently between meals can also create more opportunity for bacteria to build up.
Smoking can cause a great many oral health problems as well, as you probably know. It inhibits your mouth’s ability to fight off infection, making it easier for bacteria to thrive, resulting in cavities and gum disease. It also increases your risk of oral cancer.