Do you know the basics of proper oral health? Even those of us who are sure our oral care routine is optimal can benefit from “brushing up” on the basics.
For example, most agree that the three main components that comprise a sound oral care routine are brushing, flossing and rinsing. However, factors such as a proper diet, avoidance of alcohol and tobacco, and wearing protective mouth guards and face shields while engaged in risky activity, are also important for your oral wellness. The American Dental Association, ADA, recommends the following to help maintain your oral health for life.
Use the right equipment. Use fluoride toothpaste and a toothbrush that fits the anatomy of your mouth and teeth. Brushes with softer bristles – avoid hard bristle brushes – provide the right amount of friction. Brushes with small heads are more appropriate for smaller mouths or for those who may have difficulty reaching all areas of the mouth. Brushes with larger heads have more brushing surface and may help you optimize the time you spend brushing.
Follow the right technique. Hold your toothbrush at a slight angle, pointing the bristles toward your gum line. Brush softly with a short back-and-forth motion. Don’t forget brushing the chewing or biting surfaces of your teeth, as well as your tongue.
Brush twice daily. Be sure to make time to brush (at least) twice a day, optimally when you wake up and at bedtime, for your oral care routine.
Go electric. Battery operated toothbrushes have come a long way from the large, unwieldy brushes of a decade ago. Battery-operated toothbrushes are affordable and are excellent for removing extra plaque and keeping gum disease at bay. Children especially enjoy battery-operated brushes, and oftentimes they are adorned with a child’s favorite cartoon character or action hero.
Stay clean. Regardless of how conscientious you are about your oral care routine, there is still the possibility that mold, yeast or bacteria might contaminate the area or your equipment. This is especially important if you share the area with others or use a public restroom at work, school, barracks, or camp. After brushing, rinse your toothbrush briefly under running water and store it in an upright position. Avoid storing your toothbrush in a tight container unless you are traveling. Keep your toothpaste tube capped and closed.
Brushing alone isn’t enough to properly clean all the tight spaces between teeth and the areas where they meet the gum line. That’s where dental flossing comes in.
Be generous. Use at least a forearm’s length of floss each time. Wrap the ends around the middle finger of each hand and grip the gloss between thumb and forefinger. Gradually wind the used end in one hand. Hit the gum line, not just between teeth.
Go easy. Once you have placed the floss line between two teeth, use it to gently rub the side of each tooth with a gentle up-and-down motion. As the floss gets closer to the gum line, try curving it against one tooth for more efficient cleansing. Unwind fresh floss as you progress. If you have braces or permanent retainer, ask your dentist or orthodontist for “threaders” – flexible plastic needle-like devices that are used to thread floss between dental hardware.
Take it one tooth at a time. Slide the floss into the space between your gum and tooth. Unwind fresh floss as you progress to the rest of your teeth.
Floss at least once a day. Many people only floss when they sense a piece of leftover food lodged between their teeth. Flossing helps build gum strength, so make flossing a regular part of your preventive oral care routine.
Until recently, most people used mouthwash to either “kill germs that cause bad breath” or to help your mouth feel fresher, longer. However, dentist-recommended brands of mouthwash contain fluoride to help protect your teeth against the acids produced by the bacteria in plaque. Here’s what you need to know about mouthwash and rinsing.
Choose the right type. You may dislike the burning sensation of some rinses, want to avoid artificial flavors and colors, or prefer an alcohol-free wash. There are a wide variety of rinses available. If you prefer the stronger kind but they burn your mouth, consider diluting it with a bit of water to take out some of the sting.
Use the right amount. Consult the label on your mouthwash bottle. Some products are meant to be diluted in water, while others are meant to be used full strength. Most have measured caps that allow you to use the correct amount of liquid.
Use for one minute. Keep your mouth closed and swish vigorously throughout all areas of your mouth for no less than 60 seconds. Make sure not to swallow any of the product.
In addition to a solid preventive oral care routine, regularly scheduled dental cleanings and exams can help with early diagnosis and treatment of problems with your gums, teeth and mouth to ensure a lifetime of optimal oral health.
If you want to know more about how to improve your oral health, visit Dedicated Dental. Just as our name implies, Dedicated Dental is here to help you keep your teeth and gums healthy for a lifetime. To receive a comprehensive dental exam, call Dedicated Dental at (702) 566-5509 to request an appointment today.