Oftentimes, the first thing you notice about someone is their smile. Your mouth is like the window to the overall health of the rest of your body, and you want to make sure to keep it looking great! Oral health is important for all ages, even though children are still plagued by cavities at higher rates than anyone else. By following the simple steps below regularly, you can keep a beautiful, healthy smile!
Brush at Least Twice a Day
Signs of a healthy mouth include teeth that are clean and debris-free, pink gums that do not hurt or bleed when you brush or floss and a fresh breath that does not constantly smell bad. In addition to flossing, brushing is the most essential part of having good oral hygiene. Your dentist in Westlake, OH will tell you that brushing is the most effective method for plaque removal and can show you all the proper techniques. You should brush your teeth at least twice every day. Some people brush after they eat breakfast in the morning, but it is actually better to do so before–especially if you are eating anything acidic–because your enamel will be in a weakened state, highly vulnerable to damage from brushing afterward. Brushing your teeth should also be the last thing you do at night before going to bed.
To get the job done, you really only need a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on your brush. It will lather up, covering more surface area once you begin brushing. Hold your toothbrush against your teeth at an angle (most dentists agree on 45 degrees) in which the bristles are aimed at the area where your tooth meets the gum. When brushing, you should use short, gentle strokes in a circular motion. Only focus on a few teeth at a time and make sure to cover the outer surfaces, inner surfaces, and top or chewing surfaces. You can make vertical up-and-down strokes on the inner surfaces. When you have been brushing your teeth for about two minutes, you can finish by brushing your tongue and the roof of your mouth–this will help remove any leftover bacteria and freshen your breath. Spit all the toothpaste out afterward, and don’t rinse with water–your teeth will be protected for a longer period of time. And remember: do not rush your brush!
Floss, Floss, Floss!
According to a nationally representative study, 32% of Americans never floss their teeth while 37% floss theirs less than every day. To keep your healthy smile, you should be flossing at least once every single day. Food particles can stick between your teeth, remaining in your mouth even after you have brushed, in hard-to-reach areas. Over time, the particles will grow into colonies of bacteria (plaque) and harden. Don’t let the food particles that you were unable to reach by brushing alone cause you inflammation, gum disease, and tooth loss in the long run.
To start, you will need either two flosser sticks (one for each row of teeth) or about 18 inches of string floss for your entire mouth. Wind most of the floss around your middle fingers until you have about one or two inches to work with, and hold it tautly between your index fingers and thumbs. Begin gently gliding the floss up and down between your teeth, curving it around the base of each tooth and making sure you go beneath the gum line. Avoid snapping or forcing the floss between your teeth and against the gums–doing so could cut or bruise the delicate gum tissue. Repeat this method on the rest of your teeth using clean sections of floss as you move from tooth to tooth. If you have bridges, braces, or other oral appliances, you may find it more difficult to floss with the wires and other parts getting in the way, but a simple solution is to buy some floss threaders. Your orthodontics office may even have some to give you to make the process simple and hassle-free. Floss threaders will help you thread the floss between the wires and your teeth so you can guide it between your teeth easily. With your orthodontist and these handy tools by your side, you have no excuse not to floss daily!
Change Your Toothbrush every 3 to 4 Months
Your toothbrush will fray and wear down tremendously over time. The bristles break down and lose their effectiveness, becoming breeding grounds for bacteria and harming delicate gums. According to the Mayo Clinic, you need to replace your brush at least every three to every four months–sooner if the bristles begin to fray earlier.
There are different types of brushes, but adults should be using a small- to medium-size with soft to medium bristles. Children will need a smaller size with the same type of bristles. The head should be small enough to fit into harder-to-reach areas in the mouth. If you are receiving dental care in Scotch Plains, NJ or elsewhere, your dental hygienist can assist you in finding the right toothbrush style and size for your mouth with no problem. Be sure to rinse your brush with water after every time you use it and store it in an upright position to let it air-dry. Avoid the growth of mold, bacteria, and yeast by leaving it uncovered at all times.
Cut Down on Sugary Drinks
It’s not just candy and desserts that you need to enjoy sparingly, but also any beverages containing high amounts of sugar. When sugar comes into contact with your mouth, it turns to acid and can quickly damage the enamel on your teeth. If you do drink anything like lemonade, soda, or punch, use a straw to reduce the contact of the sweetened beverage to your teeth. You can also just as easily replace sweetened drinks with milk, yogurt, or water. Drinking water is good for you in several different ways, and could be the difference in you having a healthy smile or a mouthful of cavities!
Visit Your Dentist Regularly
Early detection and treatment of gum, tooth, and general mouth issues can ensure that you will have a lifetime of good oral health ahead of you. Visiting a dentist on a regular basis will help detect and treat problems that you might not notice. A dental hygienist’s job is to show you how to properly care for your teeth at home and help you prevent gum disease. During your appointment, he or she will professionally clean your teeth, removing all signs of plaque and tartar build-up, and give you advice regarding the best way you can keep plaque from building up on your teeth until the time of your next visit. Your hygienist can also take X-rays of your mouth to diagnose problems that might not have been caught during the cleaning. X-rays are most helpful in catching cavities early on, before they grow large enough to cause pain, full tooth decay, or other issues. A dentist will take care of the rest–fillings, root canals, veneers, crowns, bridges, etc.–but if you are having trouble with wisdom teeth growing in painfully or if you need special implants, jaw surgery, or bone grafting, you will need to book an appointment with a specialist along the lines of an oral surgeon in Southbridge, MA. He or she will ensure that you get the best treatment with years of expertise and experience, excellent customer service, and personalized care.
It may seem like a lot of steps to take, but once you get into a good daily routine, you will see that taking care of your mouth, teeth, and gums is worth it!