A standard oral health routine for healthy teeth includes brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, and using mouthwash once a day. These simple practices can help preserve your mouth from things like periodontal gum disease and tooth decay.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 1 in 5 people are affected by tooth decay, especially children. Fortunately, your dentist can help you avoid oral health issues when you schedule a teeth cleaning and oral examination every 6 months.
To learn more about proper oral hygiene, keep reading.
When it comes to your oral health, you may wonder what’s really at risk? Your teeth feel fine right now, they look pretty good, and you’re not feeling pain in your gums.
Most oral health problems can’t be seen at first. Did you know plaque is an invisible film of bacteria that sticks to your teeth and gums? Over time, plaque produces acid from consuming sugars and starches. This acid erodes tooth enamel and attacks your gums, putting you at risk for oral health issues.
Dentists are able to remove plaque and tartar (hardened plaque), but there are things you can do at home to keep it from building up.
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends you brush your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride has long been recognized for its oral health benefits. In fact, many municipalities have fluoridated drinking water to help reduce cavities.
Make sure you brush for 2 minutes for proper teeth cleaning. If you always brush your teeth with one foot out the door, you could be leaving behind plaque on back teeth that are harder to reach. It’s not uncommon for people to develop cavities in back teeth when they rush.
On this note, remember to brush your entire mouth. This includes gums, tongue, and molars. While you brush, also remember that brushing harder does not mean a cleaner smile. Brushing too hard will actually damage your teeth because you can scrape away enamel.
Brush lightly. Your goal is that your bristles touch your teeth but don’t bend too much.
Plaque loves to hide where toothbrush bristles can’t reach, and you’re not going to reach those places by brushing harder!
Flossing once a day is the best way to remove plaque hiding in between teeth and along the gum line. Flossing helps prevent cavities from forming in between teeth so you can avoid an unpleasant surprise during your next teeth cleaning and oral examination with us.
In the past, flossing was a greater chore than it is today (that one minute of flossing really scared some people). With flossing sticks, you can floss on the go, floss at your desk, floss after a meal–and it only takes 30 seconds! Flossing once a day for even 30 seconds could save your teeth from dozens of oral health problems.
If you’re serious about flossing, try to do it right before you brush your teeth. That way, when you get out the gunk hiding between your chompers, you’ll be able to brush and rinse it away rather than let it sit there.
We recommend using a fluoride mouth rinse to help strengthen tooth enamel.
Using mouth rinse helps wash away any residual plaque or food particles that could be left behind after brushing and flossing. Fluoride mouthwash is also great for battling back against things like bad breath.
Remember this though: fluoride mouthwash is NOT a substitute for brushing and flossing. It’s simply a final coat that goes over the process. Only using mouthwash is kind of like washing spraying your car with water without actually scrubbing out the oil and dirt stains first.
Your dentist can help you choose a mouthwash brand that works for you.
We recommend you have a teeth cleaning and oral examination every 6 months to protect your oral health. During a teeth cleaning, one of our dental hygienists will be able to gently scrape away plaque and tartar.
Once plaque hardens into tartar, it can only be removed by a dental professional. Left untreated, tartar buildup increases your risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
Do your teeth ever feel fuzzy or rough? If so, you may be leaving behind dental plaque on your teeth. Plaque loves to eat sugar and uses it to produce cavity-causing acid. You may especially feel plaque on your teeth after eating sugary foods.
It’s important to check labels in the store since many foods we think are “healthy” aren’t good for your teeth. For example, some flavors of yogurt can have a lot of sugar. Likewise, sports drinks often contain more sugar than the average person would think.
Limiting sugary foods and drinks will make it easier for you to avoid oral health issues.
Our dentists in Grand Rapids MI want to help you maintain a healthy smile. We offer teeth cleanings, oral examinations, and other preventive dentistry to our patients. Feel free to reach out and schedule an appointment with Contemporary Family Dental online or give us a call at (616) 209-3969.
This blog post has been updated.
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