Everyone wants to present a healthy, attractive smile to the world that includes pearly white teeth and pink gums. Yes, you should be seeing a dentist at least twice a year to catch potential issues early and receive a more comprehensive cleaning than what you get from regular brushing and flossing. In between office visits, however, there are some important steps you can take on a daily basis to maintain your smile and enjoy optimal oral health.
Choose the Right Toothbrush
Not all toothbrushes are created equal. Choose a soft-bristled toothbrush that can comfortably fit into your mouth. The handle should also be easy to grip. This can be especially helpful for children just getting into the habit of handling their own dally brushing duties. And avoid sharing toothbrushes so you don’t transfer germs.
If you or other individuals in your household have trouble gripping a standard toothbrush, consider using a top-quality electric or battery-operated toothbrush instead. Also, remember to replace your brush every three months or so. As for how to brush your teeth properly, the American Dental Association suggests the following steps:
• Place the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against the gumline.
• Gently roll or move the brush away from the gumline.
• Carefully brush the inside and outside of teeth and the chewing surfaces with short strokes in back-and-forth motions.
• Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and promote fresh breath.
Don’t Brush Too Hard or Too Often
With brushing, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. While the general recommendation is to brush twice daily, brushing too often may damage root surfaces or contribute to gum recession. It’s also a good idea to avoid brushing too forcefully. Doing so can irritate gums and increase your risk of developing an infection. Instead, stick with gentle brushing strokes for about 2 minutes each time you brush.
Floss at Least Once a Day
Even with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services proclaiming in 2016 that flossing is no longer recommended, the act of using dental floss to clean between teeth still has many positive benefits. Outside of a proper dental cleaning, flossing is the most effective way to remove plaque from areas where a toothbrush can’t reach.
Plaque that’s left lingering between teeth can contribute to gum disease and tooth decay. And while toothpicks can certainly be helpful, they’re too rigid to work as well as floss. Need a quick refresher on how to floss? Here are the basic steps to keep in mind as you use your favorite waxed or unwaxed floss:
• Use about a foot and a half (18 inches) of floss.
• Wrap most of it around your middle finger so you have a few inches to use on your teeth.
• Hold the floss tightly between your index fingers and thumbs.
• Slide the string up and down gently between teeth.
• Curve the floss carefully around each tooth without forcing it as you work it beneath your gumline.
• Floss your teeth in sections until all plaque between teeth has been removed.
Do the ‘Tongue Test’ to Make Sure You Didn’t Overlook Anything
Have you ever had that lingering feeling like maybe you missed something after brushing and flossing? One way to boost your peace of mind is to use a disclosing tablet. Simply chew on it and a dye will show up in areas where bacteria is still lingering on your tongue. A simpler method is to move your tongue over your tongue’s surfaces. If everything feels smooth, you can be fairly certain you’ve brushed well.
Drink Plenty of Water
It might not seem like a big deal, but consistently having a dry mouth can increase the accumulation of plaque on and around your teeth. If you do have chronic dry mouth (xerostomia), first check with your regular doctor to rule out possible issues with medications you may be taking or other medical conditions.
Barring any medical problems, you’ll likely benefit from making an effort to drink more water throughout your day to minimize dry mouth issues. Keeping your mouth sufficiently moist helps your teeth and gums by boosting saliva production. Saliva, in turn, plays an important role in maintaining your oral health by:
• Buffering acids that could affect tooth enamel
• Aiding in the digestion process
• Helping your mouth naturally ward off germs
Avoid Sugary Snacks
The most common chronic disease affecting adults and children in the U.S. is actually tooth decay, according to National Institutes of Health (NIH). A major contributor to tooth decay is sugary snacks. There’s nothing wrong with occasionally treating yourself to sweet treats. However, it shouldn’t be a regular habit if you want to reduce your odds of developing problems with tooth decay and cavities.
For times when you do have sugary goodies, have them with your meal. The reason is because the chewing and eating process increases saliva production. And another perk of saliva is its ability to neutralize and buffer acids in your mouth. If you must grab a snack between meals, opt for “tooth-friendly” options such as:
• Carrots, celery, and apples and similar foods with texture
• Calcium-rich foods like cheese, yogurt, and plain nuts that can help repair enamel
• Rice cakes or oat cakes with peanut butter that’s sugar-free
• Sugar-free boiled sweets
A perfect complement to the daily oral care suggestions discussed here is regular visits to a dental professional in Sunrise, Florida. Contact Cosmetic Dentistry & Dental Implants By Dr. Eric Mehler today to schedule an appointment.