Good oral hygiene doesn’t stop at brushing and flossing. Here are all the ways you can make sure your teeth, gums, and your whole mouth stay healthy, clean and decay-free.
Regular Professional Cleanings & Checkups
Visiting the dentist regularly (for most people, that’s at least two times a year) is extremely important to your oral health.
First of all, the dentist has the tools and expertise to remove plaque and tartar buildup that all the brushing and flossing in the world can’t remove.
Your dentist can also find and take care of developing dental problems that you may not have noticed yourself. Things like cavities, gum disease and even abnormalities like tumors and cysts, may not be noticeable to the untrained eye at first. And the sooner these sorts of issues are dealt with, the less damage they’ll cause.
You should brush your teeth 2 - 3 times a day, for two minutes a pop. Spend 30 seconds on each “quadrant” of teeth (upper right, upper left, lower right, lower left) and carefully brush all the exposed surfaces, including the sides and biting surfaces.
Pro Tip: Try an electric toothbrush
Electric toothbrushes clean your teeth more efficiently than manual brushes do, because the brushing movement is quicker and they require less work. Use an electric toothbrush with a rotating head that mimics the ideal circular brushing motion. The small round head also makes it easier to clean those awkward, hard to reach places.
You should floss your teeth at least one time a day, ideally right before you go to bed. Flossing removes debris and plaque from between your teeth that can get lodges in the places your toothbrush can’t reach.
Insert the floss between your teeth and run it carefully up and down the sides of each too, pulling it into a “c” shape. Take your time!
Eating a healthy, calcium rich diet is also an important part of keeping your teeth healthy and strong. Keep sugars and starches to a minimum, as oral bacteria thrive in these.
Staying hydrated can help prevent cavities! Drinking enough water will help you maintain a sufficient saliva flow, and saliva plays an important role in washing away food debris and particles that would otherwise collect on your teeth and allow bacteria to thrive.
Supplementary Hygiene Aids
Consider adding supplementary hygiene aids to the mix for an extra hygiene boost. Some good supplementary aids include mouthwash, interdental cleaners, oral irrigators, and tongue cleaners.
These can all help keep your breath fresh and prevent plaque build up between brushing and flossing sessions.
But remember, these types of tools are not sufficient replacements for a thorough brushing and flossing routine.
Eliminating Bad Habits
There are certain bad habits you may have that may cause cavities. Chewing your fingernails or hard objects (like the cap of a pen, for example) can damage your dental enamel, making it easier for cavities to form.
Snacking between meals can also create more opportunity for bacteria to build up.
And of course, smoking can cause a great many oral health problems as well. It limits your mouth’s ability to fight infection, making it easier for bacteria to thrive, resulting in cavities and gum disease. It also increases your risk of oral cancer.