Good oral hygiene isn't just about brushing and flossing. Here are all the ways you can make sure your teeth and gums stay healthy, clean and disease-free.
Regular Professional Cleanings & Checkups
Visiting the dentist on a regular basis (for most people, that’s at least two times a year) is extremely important to your oral health.
The dentist has the tools and expertise necessary to remove plaque and tartar buildup that all the brushing and flossing in the world can’t get rid of.
Your dentist can also find and take care of dental problems in their earliest stages. Things like cavities, gum disease and even abnormalities like tumors and cysts may not be noticeable straight away to the untrained eye. The sooner oral health problems are dealt with, the less damage they’ll cause.
You should brush your teeth 2 - 3 times a day, for two minutes each time. Spend 30 seconds brushing each “quadrant” of teeth (upper right, upper left, lower right, lower left). Make sure to carefully brush all the exposed surfaces, including the sides and biting surfaces.
Pro Tip: Try an electric toothbrush
With an electric toothbrush, you can clean your teeth more efficiently than you can with a manual one, because the brushing movement is quicker and they require less work. Select an electric toothbrush with a rotating head, as this mimics the ideal circular brushing motion. The small size of the head also makes it easier to clean those awkward, hard to reach places.
You should floss your teeth once a day at a minimum, ideally right before you go to bed. Flossing removes food debris and plaque from between your teeth, lodged 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 tooth, pulling it into a “c” shape. Go slowly and be thorough!
Eating a healthy diet rich in calcium is also an important component of keeping your teeth healthy and strong. Keep sugars and starches to a minimum, as oral bacteria thrive in these.
Yes, it's true! Staying hydrated can help prevent cavities! Drinking enough fluids will help you maintain a sufficient saliva flow, and saliva washes away food debris and particles that would otherwise collect on your teeth and allow bacteria to thrive.
Supplementary Hygiene Aids
Consider adding oral hygiene aids to your brushing and flossing routine 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.
These types of tools are not sufficient replacements for a thorough brushing and flossing routine, but they can certainly help take it to the next level.
Eliminating Bad Habits
There are some 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 in those spots.
Snacking between meals can also create more opportunity for bacteria to build up.
And of course, smoking causes a great many oral health problems as well. It hinders the ability of your mouth to fight infection, making it easier for bacteria to thrive, resulting in cavities and gum disease. It also increases your risk of oral cancer.