Maintaining good dental hygiene at home is essential if you want to have healthy teeth and gums in the long term. Additionally, keeping up with your oral hygiene consistently can help you avoid those extra long visits at the dentist office.
Dr. Guneet Alag, a long-time dentist at Fab Dental, shares the best tips on taking care of your teeth and gums in between those visits. Regular brushing and flossing, along with a healthy diet and lifestyle, can help maintain the health of your teeth and gums and prevent problems such as cavities, gum disease, and bad breath.
Brushing and Flossing
Although you might have been hoping for some secret solution to dental health, the best thing you can actually do is brush and floss consistently. Regular brushing helps remove plaque and food particles from the surface of the teeth, while flossing helps remove plaque and food particles from between the teeth and along the gumline. The American Dental Association recommends brushing twice a day for two minutes each time and flossing daily.
When brushing, be sure to use fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush. Hold the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the teeth and use gentle circular motions to clean the fronts, backs, and tops of the teeth. Don’t forget to brush the tongue and roof of the mouth to remove bacteria and freshen breath.
Flossing is just as important as brushing and should be done daily to remove plaque and food particles from between the teeth and along the gumline. To floss, use a piece of waxed floss and gently insert it between the teeth, using a back-and-forth motion to clean both sides of the teeth. Alag says that using a string floss or waterpik is best practice for effective flossing. Many patients want to use the small disposable plastic flossers, but these aren’t great for removing buildup as a standard string floss. Be sure to floss gently to avoid damaging the gums.
If you don’t floss often, this might be painful or make your gums bleed. But don’t worry, just stick with it, if you floss regularly, it should get more comfortable in about a week.
Making brushing and flossing a habit can be challenging, but there are several tips that can help. For example, try setting aside a specific time each day for brushing and flossing, or invest in an electric toothbrush to make the process more enjoyable.
Mouthwash and Other Products
In addition to brushing and flossing, using mouthwash can help maintain oral health by killing bacteria and freshening breath. There are several types of mouthwash available, including antibacterial mouthwash, which helps kill bacteria and freshen breath, and fluoride mouthwash, which helps strengthen tooth enamel and prevent cavities.
Other products, such as tongue scrapers and interdental cleaners, can also help maintain oral health. Tongue scrapers help remove bacteria and freshen breath, while interdental cleaners, such as water flossers or interdental brushes, can help remove plaque and food particles from between the teeth and along the gumline. These products can be a good way to augment your normal brushing and flossing and make sure your mouth stays clean.
Diet and Lifestyle Factors
What you eat and drink can have a significant impact on your oral health. Foods and drinks high in sugar and acid can increase the risk of cavities and gum disease, while foods and drinks rich in calcium and vitamin D can help maintain the health of the teeth and gums. Consider what high-sugar foods you can cut out of your diet to protect your teeth, or try changing your routine. Eating breakfast or drinking your coffee before you brush your teeth in the morning is ideal, but if you can’t make that happen, consider brushing a third time in the middle of the day. Similarly, avoid eating after you brush at night, especially when it comes to sugary desserts.
In addition to diet, lifestyle factors, such as smoking and stress management, can also impact oral health. Smoking can stain the teeth and increase the risk of gum disease and oral cancer, while stress can lead to clenching and grinding of the teeth, which can cause pain and damage to the teeth and gums.
Regular Dental Visits
Even if you practice perfect dental hygiene at home, you’ve got to schedule regular dental appointments to maintain good gum health in the long term. Seeing a dentist regularly can help you to identify and prevent problems early on. The dentist will take X-rays and examine your gums to look for any problems.
Additionally, getting a professional cleaning will take care of any plaque and tartar buildup that brushing and flossing, or any other at-home products, can’t remove. Dr. Guneet Alag recommends scheduling a dental check-up and cleaning at least twice a year.
Maintaining good oral health requires a comprehensive approach that includes regular brushing and flossing, using mouthwash and other products, eating a healthy diet, and managing lifestyle factors. In addition, regular dental check-ups and cleanings are an important part of maintaining a healthy smile. By following these tips and making oral hygiene a priority, you can help ensure the health of your teeth and gums and enjoy a confident, radiant smile for years to come.