For many individuals, taking care of their teeth and mouth and visiting the dentist is something they know they “have” to do. However, if you truly understand the value of taking care of your teeth and mouth and visiting the dentist regularly, you will reap the most benefits. It all begins with establishing good oral hygiene.
When one is speaking about oral hygiene they are referring to the condition of the mouth and all the hard and soft tissues therein. Good oral hygiene means the teeth are clean, not suffering from debris buildup or decay, the gums are pink and comfortable, not aching or bleeding during one’s daily brushing and flossing, and breath is generally pleasant or at least odor-free. Someone with good oral hygiene can eat and speak correctly and comfortably, and doesn’t feel embarrassed about their mouth or seek to hide it.
If one is suffering from any aspect of poor oral hygiene, such as aching or bleeding gums, consistent bad breath, buildup on the teeth or pain in the teeth or gums, it is important to get this addressed and resolved as soon as possible. Good oral hygiene not only ensures proper oral structure, function and comfort, but it also helps to ensure proper overall health.
Achieving Good Oral Hygiene
There is no single way to achieve good oral hygiene. Rather, one must participate in several good oral habits. The most important of these habits include:
- Brushing one’s teeth at least twice every day. Harmful oral bacteria can build up quickly, producing enamel-destroying acids that lead to tooth decay, gingivitis and a host of other oral health issues. By brushing your teeth at least twice every day, you can help to reduce or even eliminate this buildup before it causes problems.
- Brushing one’s teeth properly. Brushing one’s teeth twice a day is pointless if one isn’t brushing properly. Brushing should take at least two minutes, and involve gentle pressure. The brush should be tilted at a 45 degree angle against the gumline at the bottom of the teeth, and it should be swept or rolled away from the gumline with short strokes. Every reachable surface of every tooth should be brushed in this way. Finally, one’s tongue should be brushed gently to remove any bacteria that has accumulated near the back of the mouth.
- Replacing one’s toothbrush every three months, or when it becomes worn. Just as is the case with any tool, one’s toothbrush is less effective when it has become worn. To be on the safe side, you should replace your toothbrush every three months, or as soon as you notice that it is becoming worn. Try to use toothbrushes with soft bristles so that they are not abrasive to your teeth.
- Flossing one’s teeth at least once every day. Flossing completes the job that brushing begins, by handling the areas around and in between teeth that toothbrush bristles are too large to penetrate. By failing to floss one’s teeth, one may very well be leaving bacteria and food particles behind after each brushing.
- Flossing one’s teeth properly. Flossing must also be done properly in order to be effective. Use a generous amount of floss, as you will want a fresh section–about one inch in length–for each set of teeth. Wrap the floss around your two pointer fingers, leaving the inch of floss in between. Gently work the floss down in between your teeth, curving it under the gums on each side. Then move the floss to a fresh section before working on a new pair of teeth.
- Using products that contain fluoride. Fluoride helps to kill the harmful oral bacteria that contributes to tooth decay, gingivitis and other oral health issues. This is why your dentist recommends using a fluoride toothpaste.
- Rinsing with mouthwash. Mouthwash can help to wash away any debris that is left behind from brushing and flossing your teeth.
- Eating a healthy, balanced diet. Your diet can greatly affect your oral hygiene. Sugar and carbohydrates, for example, are the food of choice for harmful oral bacteria, and so often contribute to the oral health issues one most wishes to avoid.
- Visiting your dentist at least twice a year for thorough examinations and cleanings. Not only does your dentist possess the tools and skills to clean your teeth more deeply than you can at home, they can also detect any potential oral health issues as they are just beginning. In this way, issues can be resolved early and quickly, and your oral hygiene can be restored and maintained.
At Today’s Dental, we are invested in helping you to establish and maintain optimal oral hygiene. This begins with understanding the principles of oral hygiene and forming a close, cooperative relationship with your dental professionals. Please contact us now if you have any questions or concerns.