Five Easy Steps to Good Oral Hygiene
By Dr. Dorothy Anasinski
Good oral hygiene is an absolute must for taking care of your teeth, gums and jawbone and ensuring that you will have your natural teeth for a very long time. As important as it is, you might think that creating good oral hygiene habits is a complicated or time-consuming process, but the opposite is true. Once you establish a healthy routine for taking care of your teeth, the rest is pretty simple.
1. Brush your teeth at least twice a day (once in the morning and once before you go to bed at night). Brushing them after every meal is even better if it’s at all possible.
When you brush your teeth, there are some simple techniques that can help you get any debris or plaque that might be in your mouth and that could cause cavities or gum disease.
- When brushing, hold your toothbrush at an angle so that the bristles are pointed toward your gums as well as your teeth.
- Using a circular motion and gentle strokes, brush the surfaces of your teeth as well as your gums and your tongue (bacteria love to gather there!).
- Put the bristles of your brush between your teeth and apply gentle pressure as you brush.
- First clean the front areas of your teeth and then brush the back surfaces as well —holding your brush vertically and moving it back and forth to be able to reach the different areas.
- Don’t forget to clean the biting surfaces of your teeth.
- Rinse out your mouth once you have finished brushing so that any plaque and debris that have been loosened are flushed out.
- If you wear a removable bridge or denture (either partial or full), make sure that you clean them after eating so that food does not get held against your tooth enamel or gums. Then when you brush your teeth thoroughly brush and clean your bridge or denture with as much attention as you give to your natural teeth.
2. Floss your teeth at least once a day (preferably before bedtime). Flossing is an important step in removing plaque and debris that can build up between your teeth and on your gum line.
- If you use dental floss, pull off around eighteen inches of floss.
- Pinch the floss between your thumb and index finger on each hand and keep it held tightly between the two hands as you move it in a gentle sliding motion between your teeth, on the edges of each tooth and along your gum line.
- Remember not to press hard. It takes consistency and not pressure to keep your teeth and gums healthy.
- For each tooth, make sure you use a new section of floss.
- If you use an interdental cleaner, follow the directions that come on the package or ask a dental hygienist in our office for the best way to use them.
3. Take care of your toothbrush because it is an important tool in your oral hygiene program.
- Rinse off your toothbrush with clean water after each time you use it.
- Store your toothbrush in an upright position so it can dry.
- Replace it at least once every three or four months.
- Always buy a tooth brush with soft bristles and rounded tips.
- If you’re not sure what kind of toothbrush to buy, our office can guide you in that process.
4. Stay away from sugary foods and snacks because when sugar combines with the ever-forming plaque in your mouth, it creates an acid that attacks the enamel on your teeth. When enamel is weakened or destroyed, it results in tooth decay. If you must have a sugary treat, eat it with your regular meal so that the other foods you are consuming will move the sugar out of your mouth and into your digestive track. Or, brush your teeth after you enjoy the sugary treat because if you don’t, that acid will continue to attack your teeth for up to twenty minutes after you’ve finished eating.
5. Visit our office on a regular basis so that we can perform professional dental cleanings that will remove any plaque or tartar that are building up in your mouth. During those visits, we will also assess your oral health and will schedule appointments to perform any procedures that are needed to keep your teeth, gums and mouth healthy. Your oral health is very important to us, and it is our job to assist you in maintaining and/or improving it.
Once you have integrated these habits into your lifestyle, good oral hygiene will just be a part of your life and you will definitely reap the benefits in the way of healthy teeth and gums.