Good oral hygiene practices obviously will benefit your teeth and your gums, but the benefits don’t stop there. Good oral health will also benefit the overall health of your entire body, from reduced risk of infections to preventing diabetes and heart disease.
Arguably, however, the biggest benefit of a proper oral hygiene practice is your good smile and maintaining simple habits like regularly brushing your teeth and flossing can improve it dramatically over time.
Below, we will learn the practical steps to improve your oral health and hygiene.
Oral Health Basics and Overview
In a nutshell, you can maintain good oral hygiene and prevent most problems with your teeth and gums with these practices:
Regularly brush your teeth at least two times a day with the correct technique (more on this below), the right toothbrush, and fluoride toothpaste
- Floss at least once a day. Flossing is important to clean the areas between your teeth that can’t be reached by your brush
- Rinse your mouth with an antibacterial mouthwash to help kill bacteria and freshen your breath
- Maintain a healthy diet, and cut down on foods and drinks with high sugars and starches
- Stop smoking and any tobacco consumption, and lower consumptions of colored drinks (including coffee and tea)
- Drink alcohol only in moderation
- Regularly visit your dentist for at least twice a year (once every six months)
Brushing Best Practices for Oral Health
Regularly brushing your teeth has two main purposes:
Cleaning the surface area of your teeth to eliminate food particles, preventing plaque and bacteria buildup.
- Maintaining the hygiene of the areas where your teeth meet the gums. This is very important in preventing gum disease and gum infection
Here are some important tips for proper brushing:
- As established above, brush your teeth for at least twice a day. Don’t do it too fast, and take around two minutes to properly clean your teeth.
- Don’t brush right after eating, especially right after you consume sugary or sticky foods/drinks. Doing so might increase the acidity of your mouth, which can cause tooth decay. Wait at least 20-30 minutes and make sure to properly rinse your mouth with water.
- Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and with the right size that is small enough to reach the whole area of your mouth comfortably, including your back molars. If necessary, you can use an electric, motorized toothbrush that is more effective in reducing plaque buildup and can help if you have difficulty in holding the brush properly (i.e. muscular issue or arthritis)
- As mentioned, use fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride can prevent dental cavity/tooth decay by protecting the tooth from acid attacks from bacteria and sugars.
- Use the right technique: hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle, and direct the bristles to the area where your tooth meets your gums. Brush with a short, circular back and forth motions. Don’t brush too hard, and don’t forget the insides of your teeth and your tongue.
- Always rinse your toothbrush after brushing and let it air dry. Store it in an upright position, and try to separate it from other toothbrushes. Don’t use a toothbrush cover or use a closed container, which can encourage bacterial growth.
- Change to a new toothbrush when the bristles frayed, around every three to four months.
Flossing Best Practices for Oral Health
Flossing regularly is still important, even after you’ve brushed your teeth regularly. You can’t reach the area in the tight spaces between your teeth, and also those tiny spaces under the gumline.
This is why flossing regularly is still very important:
- Break off around 18 inches of floss, wind most of them around the index/middle finger on one hand, and the rest around the same finger on the other hand. Use your thumbs and your free index/middle fingers to grip the floss tightly.
- Floss gently with a rubbing motion, and be careful not to snap the floss into your gums. Make a “c” shape and curve the floss against your tooth while reaching the gum line.
- Gently rub the areas on the side of each tooth. Take it one tooth at a time in an up and down motion. Unwind clean floss as you change between your teeth.
As an alternative to floss, you can use various interdental (meaning, between tooth) cleaning devices like a dental pick, water flosser, silicone plaque remover, and so on. It doesn’t really matter whether you floss or brush first in your routine, what matters is you do it regularly and correctly.
Rinsing Your Mouth For Oral Hygiene
It’s very important to understand that rinsing your mouth with mouthwash is not a replacement to brushing and flossing your teeth. Think of mouthwash as a complementary activity to enhance your oral hygiene:
Rinse at least once daily with an antiseptic/antibacterial mouthwash. Good mouthwash product can help eliminate bacteria, prevent gum disease, and help relieve symptoms of halitosis/bad breath
- Rinse your mouth for 30 to 60 seconds. Doing it too fast, and it might not bring any effect. Too long, and it might be overkill.
- Use mouthwashes containing fluoride. As mentioned above, fluoride can help prevent tooth decay. Ideally, your mouthwash should contain both fluoride and antibacterial ingredients.
As before, it doesn’t really matter whether you rinse your mouth before or after you brush and/or floss, what matters is to do it properly and regularly.
Good Diet for Dental Health
A healthy diet to support your oral health, in general, should contain a variety of foods and should avoid foods/drinks with high sugars and starches. When bacteria in your mouth break down sugars/starches, they will produce acids in the process, which will attach your teeth’s surfaces and cause decay.
Snacking is often the biggest culprit in causing tooth decay because we rarely brush our teeth after snacks. In general, avoid snacking on:
- Sugary chewing gums (opt for sugarless gums instead)
- Cookies, cakes, candies with high sugars
- Starchy foods like chips or crackers
- Dried fruits, raisins, even fruits in large quantities
Even after you’ve maintained a good oral hygiene practice, you still need to visit your dentist regularly, at least twice a year (once every six months). Your dentist can conduct a professional cleaning service to clean areas that are otherwise unreachable by your regular brushing and flossing.
Your dentist can also help in diagnosing/detecting tooth decay or other oral health issues as early as possible, so can plan the right course of action to treat—and if possible, reverse— the damage. Contact us immediately at Markham-Stouffville Smile Centre to schedule your dental check-up with our team of professional and friendly dental specialists.