Your oral health is key to your overall health and well-being; yet despite widespread efforts to increase awareness about prevention, conditions such as cavities and gum disease continue to affect millions.
Most of us are aware of the elements of basic oral care such as brushing, flossing and rinsing, and we try to develop a regular maintenance routine as recommended by dentists and oral healthcare providers. But, is your oral care routine optimal? In fact, many of our “go-to” oral hygienehabits actually may be doing more harm than good. Following are seven of the most common mistakes related to preventive oral hygiene.
1. Keeping the same toothbrush for too long
The American Dental Association, ADA, recommends replacing your toothbrush every 3-4 months. Frayed and worn bristles will not give your teeth a proper cleaning, and they might actually harm your teeth and gums. Some toothbrushes have built-in wear indicators, such color changing bristles to indicate when the brush is past its prime. A rule of thumb: when bristles no longer keep their straight shape, it’s time for a new toothbrush.
2. Not brushing long enough
Our lives may be too hurried and busy making us rush through our oral care routine. The ADA says that the average time people spend brushing their teeth is not long enough, only about 30-45 seconds. Our teeth should be brushed for about two minutes. Make sure you use gentle, short strokes to clean the outer surfaces of your upper teeth, then your lower teeth. Angle your toothbrush to clean the edges and chewing surfaces and finish by lightly running the brush over your tongue from back to front, two or three times.
3. Brushing too hard
We may think that brushing harder will be more effective in removing leftover food and the bacteria it contains. But a gentler approach may not only be more effective, it may actually be safer for your gums and teeth. A more targeted and less intense approach is all that’s needed. You can avoid wearing down the enamel that protects the surface of your teeth and avoid stressing your gums. And don’t think that brushing softer with a harder brush is the same. It isn’t. Avoid hard brushes and instead use soft bristle-toothbrushes; just focus more conscientiously on gently brushing.
4. Brushing immediately after eating
Contrary to what we may logically assume, getting up from the table right after a meal to brush your teeth may not be the perfect approach. Let the saliva in your mouth break down the larger food leftovers and naturally lower the acidity levels in your mouth. This may take 15 minutes or more. By finishing your meal with a glass of water, you can help the process along.
5. Using improper flossing techniques
Many of us rush through our flossing and sometimes may only floss the areas where we can feel food leftovers are stuck. We may also avoid the areas that are harder to reach. Inappropriate flossing techniques, such as using excessive pressure on your gums or not using an appropriate length of floss product, may actually reduce the effectiveness of your flossing regime. Position the floss slowly and lightly between each tooth and move it sideways instead of on pulling it deep into the gums and pulling up and down. A basic rule: if you find even a minimal amount of blood in your saliva after flossing, you may not be doing it right or frequently enough. Not to worry; the more you floss, the stronger your gums will be.
6. Incorrect use of mouthwash
It’s easy to rush through this stage and simply swish the liquid in your mouth two or three times and be done. Dentists and manufacturers suggest you swish the mouthwash liquid in your mouth for about 60 seconds. If the mouthwash gives you a burning sensation that makes it hard to swish for a whole minute, consider diluting it with some water, or look for a product with less or no alcohol.
7. Avoiding Dentist Appointments
Regular, semiannual checkups and dental cleanings are an important step toward maintaining good oral health. Not only will your dentist ensure your teeth are clean and cavity-free, he will search for signs of oral cancer, gingivitis, plaque, decay, loose fillings and cracks.
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. The friendly staff at Dedicated Dental welcomes your call and looks forward to serving you. If you have any questions about our family and cosmetic dentistry services, or you would like to schedule an appointment or consultation, please call (702) 566-5509. You can also request an appointment online.