Proper oral hygiene habits are absolutely vital to both your oral and your overall health. These habits help to ensure the routine removal of the dental plaque that contributes to tooth decay and gum disease. This plaque contains harmful bacteria that, if it enters the bloodstream, can make its way to other areas of the body and cause extensive illness, disease and problems. Good oral hygiene habits help to keep your body healthy and comfortable, and are far less expensive or time-consuming than restorative dental treatments. Additionally, they can help to battle the bad breath that often affects self-confidence and self-esteem.
How to Maintain Good Oral Hygiene
Following are the basics of good oral hygiene:
- Brushing your teeth. While you may understand that brushing your teeth is an important part of good oral hygiene habits, you may not understand that how you brush your teeth is even more important than the fact that you brush your teeth. It’s best to brush your teeth after you wake up in the morning, before you go to bed at night, and after you consume sugars or carbohydrates. (When sugars and carbohydrates combine with harmful oral bacteria, they produce acids that attack the teeth.) In order to brush your teeth properly, hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gums. Brush back and forth over every surface of every tooth, and then brush your tongue. It’s better to brush your teeth for longer than to brush them harder, as a long gentle brushing can ensure more bacteria removal, while harder brushing can be abrasive and harmful to the teeth. Make sure that you use the toothpaste that your dentist recommends, and use a soft-bristled toothbrush that you replace every three months.
- Flossing your teeth. While brushing your teeth is essential to good oral health, it alone cannot remove all of the harmful oral bacteria or food particles in your mouth. Toothbrush bristles simply aren’t fine enough to reach into all the crevices between your teeth and gums, which is why flossing is also important. Hold the floss securely with fingers from both hands, and ease it gently down in between the teeth. Then, rub it up and down and curve it toward each tooth and under the gum line. Use a new section of floss for each tooth so that you don’t place removed bacteria and tooth particles in a new spot. Floss with waxed floss at least once a day, and consider using floss holders or wands if you have a hard time maneuvering the floss between your teeth.
- Using mouthwash. Antibacterial mouthwash can help to remove any harmful oral bacteria that has somehow lingered in your mouth after brushing and flossing. By removing it, you can help to protect against gingivitis and tooth decay.
- Maintaining a healthy, nutritious diet. Healthy eating habits are definitely important to good oral health, as they contribute either to strong, healthy teeth or to decayed, weak teeth. A good diet provides one with plenty of nutrition, vitamins and minerals to ensure that one’s teeth are as strong as possible and are not exposed to harmful substances.
- Visiting your dentist for examinations and cleanings. Even the best oral hygiene habits at home are not enough to thoroughly protect or maintain good oral health. Your dentist possesses certain dental instruments, knowledge and experience that you don’t have at home, and can therefore handle some situations you can’t handle at home. For example, if dental plaque hardens into tartar, there is nothing you can do about it at home. On the other hand, your dentist can remove it and even administer protective treatments so that your teeth are more resilient to bacteria in the future.
With good oral hygiene habits, your mouth will be healthier, more comfortable and less likely to suffer from bad breath, gingivitis or tooth decay. Oral hygiene is not something you can do on occasion, when you feel like it, or when it’s convenient. You must adhere to a strict regimen every day, but the benefits are well worth the time and effort invested.
For more information about good oral hygiene habits, contact Today’s Dental now!