8 Tips for Better Oral Hygiene
October 04 2022
Better Mouth Health Means Better Overall Health!
Oral health is vital to our overall health. It can be easy to slip into bad oral hygiene habits and take nice teeth for granted. If you do have bad teeth, you know just how much oral health can affect the quality of your life.
Poor oral health can also lead to a variety of other health problems including, but not limited to:
- Respiratory infections: caused by bacteria-inflamed gums
- Cardiovascular disease: caused by bacteria entering the bloodstream from the gums, causing plague to build up in the arteries
- Diabetes: diabetics are more likely to have infected gums, making diabetes difficult to control; gum disease can also lead to higher blood sugar levels and can put a person at risk for developing diabetes
- Kidney disease: periodontal disease can lead to kidney disease as patients with gum disease typically have weaker immune systems, making them more susceptible to infection
For most, maintaining basic hygiene is enough to keep your teeth looking nice. Here are eight things that should be part of a regular oral hygiene routine.
1 | Brush at Least Twice a Day
Brush your teeth at least twice a day using a soft-bristled brush. If you have the opportunity, dentists recommend brushing after each meal. Also, make sure that you choose a toothbrush that fits the size of your mouth (smaller for children and larger for adults). Brush in gentle, circular motions for two and three minutes. Never brush aggressively and avoid sawing back and forth motions as this can damage gums and tooth enamel.
2 | Floss and Use Mouthwash
While most people understand that flossing and using mouthwash are important to oral hygiene, very few actually include these steps on a regular basis. It may not be necessary to use floss and mouthwash after every meal, however, using both at least once a day can significantly improve your gum health and protect your teeth in areas that cannot be reached through regular brushing. If you have difficulty flossing, try using a ready-to-use dental flosser or a water flossing system.
3| Use an ADA-Approved Toothpaste
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends using a fluoride toothpaste to brush your teeth. To find out if your toothpaste is ADA approved, visit mouthhealth.org and scan the ADA “Seal of Acceptance” list. You can also ask your dentist or dental hygienist what toothpaste they recommend you use.
4 | Don’t Neglect Your Tongue
Plaque can also build up on your tongue. Not only does it lead to bad breath, but it can lead to other oral health issues. Gently brush your tongue every time you brush your teeth.
5 | Replace Your Toothbrush Regularly
An old toothbrush might seem like it is doing the job, but over time its effectiveness diminishes as the bristles bend out of shape and soften from use. This translates to a decrease in effectiveness of cleaning your teeth. Also, an old toothbrush is full of bacteria that collects there over time. Not replacing your toothbrush often enough can actually make you sick, so replace your toothbrush about every three months.
6 | Maintain a Healthy Diet
What you eat definitely has an effect on your teeth. Most know that sugary foods such as candy and soda can cause cavities. But did you know that other foods can actually benefit your teeth? Dairy products are high in bone-healthy calcium that strengthen your teeth. Crunchy fruits and veggies such as apples and celery can scrape food particles off of teeth and also stimulate saliva production to clean your mouth. Also, be sure to drink plenty of water. Drinking water after every meal, especially if you cannot brush directly after a meal, can help wash some of the negative effects of sticky and acidic food and drinks between brushings.
7 | Avoid Tobacco Products
The use of tobacco products can cause bad breath, gum disease, yellowing of teeth and gums, inflammation, buildup of plaque and tartar, loss of bone in the jaw, tooth loss, and even oral cancer. Smoking also harms the immune system, so if you get inflamed gums, it’s harder for your body to fight the infection, which can spread. Work with your healthcare provider to quit using tobacco.
8 | Schedule Regular Cleanings
Regular cleanings by a dental professional are necessary for oral hygiene. Even the most diligent tooth-brusher can’t get the same level of cleanness that you get in the dentist’s chair. Your dental hygienist uses specialized tools and examines changes in your mouth, including signs of decay or other developing issues, so that you can take care of problems before they get out of hand. Most patients should make a dental appointment every six months.