Here are our 15 oral hygiene tips for a healthier mouth.
1. Brush Your Teeth Twice a Day
We recommend that you brush your teeth twice a day for at least 2 minutes at a time. That way, you’re able to clean each tooth and remove dental plaque.
Dental plaque is an invisible film of bacteria that lives inside your mouth. As you eat sugary and/or starchy foods, these bacteria eat the particles left behind. Then, they’re able to produce an acid that erodes your enamel and attacks your gums.
Brushing your teeth is one of the best things you can do to maintain healthy teeth and gums. But it’s also important that you’re brushing your teeth the right way.
First, you’ll want to hold your toothbrush so it’s at a 45-degree angle against your gums. Next, you’ll want to gently brush your teeth in small circular strokes. Make sure you get all the inner, outer, and chewing surfaces of your teeth so plaque doesn’t have anywhere to hide.
2. Brush Your Tongue or Use a Tongue Scraper
After you’re done brushing your teeth, gently brush your tongue to eliminate bacteria and bad breath. You may also use a tongue scraper to clean your tongue. Just like brushing your teeth, you should brush your tongue at least twice a day to remove bacteria.
3. Floss Your Teeth Once a Day
Dental plaque can hide between your teeth, which is why it’s important that you floss your teeth at least once a day. Otherwise, you may have cavities develop between your teeth where toothbrush bristles can’t reach.
First, you’ll want to use about 18 inches of floss and wind it around your middle fingers. Then, using your thumbs and forefingers, guide the floss between your teeth until it meets the gum line. Next, gently pull the floss against the tooth so it turns into a C-shape. Floss using gentle up-and-down motions along each side of the tooth.
Repeat this process for each tooth in your mouth.
4. Choose the Right Toothbrush
You may choose either a manual or an electric toothbrush. Either one will help remove plaque from your teeth and gums. Although, some of our patients find that an electric toothbrush is easier to use.
Make sure that you choose a toothbrush with soft bristles. If you brush too hard, some of the harder bristles could damage your enamel and gums. But soft-bristled toothbrushes are both safe and comfortable.
The toothbrush head should be small enough that you can clean around each tooth in your smile, especially your molars. In general, most of our adult patients are comfortable using toothbrush heads that are half an inch or one inch tall.
5. Clean Your Toothbrush
Rinse your toothbrush with tap water after brushing your teeth. You’ll also want to shake the brush into the sink so water droplets don’t cling onto your toothbrush bristles for hours. Let your toothbrush air dry.
We don’t recommend sharing your toothbrush. Sharing a toothbrush with someone means that you’re also swapping bacteria.
6. Use a Fluoride Mouth Rinse
Fluoride helps strengthen tooth enamel, increasing its resistance to acid attacks from plaque. When choosing a fluoride mouth rinse, make sure that the label says that it is antimicrobial or antigingivitis. These mouth rinses will help reduce the bacteria in your mouth that cause tooth decay and gum disease.
If you’re interested in trying fluoride mouth rinse, be sure to let one of our dentists know during your next appointment. We’ll be able to recommend a product to help you maintain good oral health in between dental visits.
Keep in mind that children ages 6 or younger should not use fluoride mouth rinse because they may swallow it by accident. While it’s perfectly safe to use a mouth rinse, you should never swallow it. Always spit it out into the sink when you’re done.
During your teeth cleaning appointment, we’ll also examine the inside of your mouth and potentially take X-rays. All of this helps us catch oral health problems early when they’re most treatable. For example, catching a filling early could mean the difference between needing a filling and an emergency root canal.
We recommend that you see one of our dentists at least every 6 months. If you have a condition like periodontitis that needs to be monitored, we may recommend more frequent appointments.
8. Don’t Smoke
Smoking increases your risk of lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and heart disease. But did you know that it’s also bad for your oral health?
People who smoke are more likely to develop oral and throat cancer. Smoking also hinders the body’s natural healing ability, which may affect your recovery time after a dental procedure.
9. Apply a Lip Balm with SPF
Do you spend a lot of time outdoors? If so, apply a lip balm with SPF before heading outside. People who don’t apply sun protection on the lips have a higher risk of developing lip cancer. This is because they have prolonged exposure to UV rays from the sun.
10. Limit Sugary and Starchy Foods
Have your teeth ever felt rough or “fuzzy” after eating? This rough feeling is due to a film of bacteria called dental plaque.
Plaque loves to eat the sugary and/or starchy food particles left behind after you eat. But plaque doesn’t thrive as much when you eat foods that are low in sugar and starch. Brushing and flossing after you eat will also greatly reduce plaque.
11. Drink Water Instead of Sugary Beverages
It’s okay to drink pop and other sugary beverages as an occasional treat. But you shouldn’t be drinking it every day. That’s because certain drinks (like pop) are both sugary and acidic, which wreaks havoc on your teeth.
Acidic drinks will discolor and wear away your tooth enamel. This may increase your risk of tooth sensitivity and cavities in the long run.
12. Avoid Late-Night Snacks
Always brush and floss your teeth before going to bed. If you eat a snack before going to sleep, you’ll need to brush and floss your teeth again. Otherwise, the bacteria inside your mouth will feed on the food particles and attack your teeth and gums while you sleep.
13. Don’t Chew Ice
Chewing ice on a regular basis will damage your tooth enamel. Enamel is the protective outer layer of your tooth. But once this enamel wears away, your teeth may feel more sensitive to heat and cold. Your risk of getting cavities will also increase.
14. Don’t Use Your Teeth as a Tool
Don’t use your teeth to remove bottle caps, tear open letters, or hold purse straps. All of these habits can wear away the enamel on your teeth. You may even chip a tooth by accident, which will require a visit to our office to repair. Using your teeth as a tool may also chip a porcelain veneer or crown.
15. Chew Sugarless Gum After Meals
Chewing sugarless gum after a meal will freshen your breath and help you fight cavities. That’s because chewing increases your saliva production. In turn, saliva helps to wash away food particles and neutralize the bacteria in dental plaque. It’s a win-win!
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