This week we are taking this blog back to the basics and focusing on two common hygiene habits that can make or break your oral health. Keep reading to see how your dental routine stacks up.
Dos: Brush. No brainer, right? It's the most common element of an oral health plan. The ADA recommends brushing at least twice a day with a soft bristled toothbrush. Use a dentist recommended fluoridated toothpaste and brush each surface of your teeth (outside, inside, and chewing surface) with short back and forth strokes. Don't forget your gumline and even your tongue (this really helps bad breath). Here's the part we can most likely improve on: It takes 120 seconds to correctly and thoroughly brush your teeth. Most of us probably don't even come close to the two minute mark! Set a timer on your phone or stopwatch and challenge yourself to spend the full recommended amount of time cleaning your pearly whites.
Don'ts: While it's important to brush at least two or even three times a day, avoid brushing more often than this. Too much brushing can be hard on your gums and wear down the enamel of your teeth. A firm bristled toothbrush or pushing too hard does the same type of damage. Don't use long strokes across your mouth, doing so can scrape your gumline and doesn’t ensure each tooth is getting the attention it deserves. Finally, don't miss areas of your mouth. Many people brush the same teeth the same way missing the same harder to reach spots daily. Switch up your routine- divide your teeth into four areas and start with different sections of your mouth each day. Try to spend thirty seconds per area. Don't think you can make it the full two minutes? Consider watching T.V. or listening to one of your favorite songs while you brush. It will make time go faster and keep you committed to scrubbing (lightly) your chompers.
Dos: Flossing is a crucial element when it comes to keeping your teeth and gums healthy. It simply reaches places that brushing cannot. For step by step instructions on the correct way to floss, check out our blog post. If you only have time for basics, here they are:
- Floss at least once daily,
- Use about 18 total inches of floss, working with about two inch sections at a time,
- Gently glide the floss up and down between each tooth and
- When you get to the top of the tooth, keep the floss tight against the tooth surface and smoothly slide it under the gumline.
Don'ts: Don't just floss your front teeth. Sure, they are the easiest to reach, however, your back teeth are just as or more likely to develop decay in between. Avoid snapping the floss between your teeth. This is "don't" for a couple of reasons: 1. It's hard on your gums, and 2. This motion causes you to miss portions of the tooth surface. The point of using to the floss is to remove the plaque along those contact edges - if the floss isn't touching them, it obviously isn't doing its job. Steer clear of sawing at your gumlines. This harsh motion isn't effective and will only damage the gum tissue and leave you with a sore mouth. Finally, don't stop flossing because your mouth is a little sore or bleeds when you do. When you are using floss correctly, these symptoms will go away within a few days.
Dos: There are many healthy habits and quality products out there to help supplement your oral hygiene routine.
- Mouthwash helps to give us clean fresh breath and has even been shown to help combat gum disease.
- Fluoride (in tap water, toothpastes or supplemental form) can help aid in the development of teeth for children and strengthen enamel in adults
- A balanced diet provides your teeth and other oral tissues with vitamins and minerals they need. Limiting sugary foods and drinks, constant snacking, acidic eats and staining foods will also contribute to a healthy, bright smile.
- Avoiding tobacco products will decrease your risk for oral cancer, gum disease, tooth staining, bad breath and other oral health problems.
Don'ts: As long as you are using supplemental products as directed, the biggest "don't" here is the notion that any other product is a substitute for proper brushing and flossing. This is simply not the case.
In addition to the good oral hygiene routine you maintain at home, be sure to visit your dentist regularly (every six months or sooner if you have concerns or pain) for professional cleanings and checkups. Consistent trips to the dentist office are an important part of maintaining a healthy mouth and smile.
How do your hygiene habits stack up to the recommendations listed above? Give yourself a thumbs up for the parts you've got down pat and set a goal to focus on improving your brushing, flossing and "extras" habits in any aspect that might need a little work.