No matter your age, practicing good dental hygiene should be a priority. A consistent and thorough oral care routine is critical to your total wellbeing, even between visits to your dentist. Here are six ways you can protect your oral health at home and reduce costs associated to your dental care.
Commit to Brushing Twice Daily
Good Habits Go a Long Way
“Brush your teeth every day” may be the most common advice when it comes to oral health. The reason is that proper brushing twice a day for two to three minutes each time is an effective way to remove plaque and tartar buildup from your teeth. This keeps your mouth clean and healthy between dental cleanings. Regular brushing will also help you spot any changes to your teeth, gums, and mouth that may require the attention of your dentist.
At least 30 minutes to an hour after a meal and at night before bed are optimal times to brush your teeth. Acidic foods and beverages can soften enamel, so waiting can allow enamel to stabilize before brushing. But, if you find yourself too tired at night to effectively brush your teeth and floss, it’s a good idea to perform your oral care after dinner instead. The importance of brushing and flossing before sleeping cannot be emphasized enough. Brushing before you turn the lights out at night helps get rid of bacteria that has accumulated throughout the day.
Brush Your Teeth (and Tongue) Properly
The Foundation of Good Oral Hygiene
A good brushing technique is critical for a full-mouth clean. Maneuvering your toothbrush in forceful, quick back-and-forth motions can damage your tooth enamel and cause harm to your gums or positioning of your teeth. Take your time brushing, and move a soft-bristled toothbrush in gentle, circular motions in each quadrant of your mouth. Take special care to remove plaque buildup from your back teeth.
Manual, electric, and specialty toothbrushes are available on the market, and your dentist can advise you on the one that’s right for you. Your brush should have soft or ultrasoft bristles and be replaced as soon as it shows signs of wear—a fraying toothbrush won’t clean the surfaces of your teeth well, and could damage tooth enamel and gums.
Remember that plaque can also exist on your tongue, which may contribute to halitosis (bad breath) and other oral health issues due to buildup. Using a toothbrush with a tongue flosser on the back or a standalone tongue cleaner is an effective way of removing potentially harmful bacteria and promoting oral health.
Floss Your Teeth
A Step You Shouldn’t Ignore
Though you may not think twice about brushing your teeth regularly, it’s not uncommon for many people to forget about regular flossing. But, flossing is equally important for dental hygiene.
Flossing your teeth once or twice a day serves multiple purposes, including:
- Removing plaque along the gumline and between teeth
- Stimulating gums
- Removing food deposits that a toothbrush can’t reach
Be sure to floss between all of your teeth, including areas with tight spaces. It’s important to make flossing a habit. If you aren’t a regular flosser, you may experience sensitive gums to start, but persistence and a few adjustments (with your dentist’s advice) will help.
Don’t let a busy lifestyle or other concerns prevent you from this crucial step in oral hygiene. For example, water flossers may work well for those with sensitive or bleeding-prone gums, while floss picks may be good for occasional on-the-go cleaning and for teaching young children how to floss. Ask your dentist about the type of dental floss that may work best for you.
Use a Fluoride Toothpaste for Best Results
Your Line of Defence
Brushing with fluoride toothpaste is key. Fluoride acts as a protective barrier by fighting germs that can lead to tooth decay. It also strengthens your teeth by fortifying enamel, which helps prevent cavities and sensitivity. Many fluoride toothpastes also target other dental issues you may experience, including gingivitis and periodontitis. Others assist in controlling sensitivity related to teeth whitening while you brush. Your dentist can recommend a toothpaste that’s right for you.
Fluoridated mouthwash can also be added to your at-home routine. Oral rinses can help wash away food particles that remain after brushing and remineralize your teeth, along with freshening your breath and reducing plaque and gingivitis.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
Eating Habits Make a Difference
Your whole body will reap the benefits of a healthy diet. Foods rich in minerals and nutrients help support strong bones and teeth. Foods with lots of calcium, like dairy products, leafy greens, and almonds, strengthen enamel and help prevent tooth decay. Crunchy fruits and vegetables like apples and carrots are good for your teeth, too.
Sugary and acidic foods, like soft drinks and citrus foods, should be limited. These foods can erode tooth enamel and promote plaque production. Sticky or starchy foods, such as raisins and bread, can linger on the surface of your teeth, or get stuck in between teeth or under the gum line. Take care to eat these foods in moderation, and pay extra attention to brushing and flossing after they are consumed.
Staying hydrated throughout the day is good for your oral health. Not only does it help wash away food particles left behind after eating (preventing them from lodging in your teeth and gums where bacteria can form), it helps promote a healthy salivary flow. If you need a drink, reach for a glass of water to quench your thirst.
Avoid Alcohol and Smoking
Common Habits Can Wreak Havoc on Your Teeth
Tobacco use poses one of the greatest risks to your oral health. Not only does smoking stain teeth and cause excess plaque and tartar buildup, it can cause more serious problems for your teeth, gums, and overall wellbeing, such as periodontal disease and oral cancers.
Quitting smoking or other tobacco use is a major benefit to your health. If you need help to quit, speak with your dentist or health care professional.
Alcohol can also cause staining, and cause more serious conditions that can lead to tooth decay and loss due to high sugar content. Drinking alcohol can also lead to dry mouth, which reduces production of saliva and promotes excess bacterial production. Reducing alcohol consumption can help lower these risks.
Professional Care Is a Phone Call Away
Even though a good oral care routine starts at home, visiting your dentist for a cleaning and check-up at least twice a year is important. Dr. Bains and the team at Lewis Estates Dental Centre can help you create a plan that suits your lifestyle. Contact us today and make sure all your dental healthcare needs are met.