Good oral hygiene is about more than brushing and flossing every day. Here are all the ways you can make sure your teeth, gums, and your whole mouth stay healthy, clean and decay-free.
Regular Professional Cleanings & Checkups
Visiting the dentist regularly (that's twice a year, for most people) is one of the most important element of your oral health routine.
Your dentist and hygienist have the tools and expertise to remove plaque and tartar buildup that brushing and flossing at home, no matter how thorough, can’t remove.
Your dentist can also detect and treat developing dental problems that you won't necessarily notice yourself. These problems include cavities, gum disease and even abnormalities like tumors and cysts that may not be obvious to the untrained eye. The sooner these sorts of problems are dealt with, the less damage they’ll cause in the long term.
You should brush your teeth 2 or 3 times a day, for two minutes per session. Spend 30 seconds on each “quadrant” of your teeth (lower right, lower left, upper right, upper left), and brush all the exposed surfaces carefully.
Pro Tip: Try an electric toothbrush
Electric toothbrushes are great tools for improving the efficiency of your brushing sessions. The brushing movement is quicker and thus, less effort is required on your part to do a good job. Use an electric toothbrush with a small, round, rotating head, as this mimics the ideal circular brushing motion, and makes it easier to clean those tight, hard-to-reach places.
Floss your teeth at least once every day, ideally right before bed. You can also add in a flossing session after lunch, to freshen up. Flossing effectively removes the debris and plaque that collect between your teeth, where your toothbrush can’t reach.
Pro Tip: The "C" Shape
Insert the floss between your teeth and run it carefully up and down the sides of each and every tooth, pulling it into a “c” shape around the tooth on each side. Take your time; even going slowly and methodically, flossing only takes a few minutes at most, and the benefits of careful flossing are worth it.
Eating a healthy diet rich in calcium is another great way to keep your teeth healthy and strong. Keep sugars and starches to a minimum, as oral bacteria thrive on these.
Staying well hydrated can help prevent cavities! Drinking enough water will help you maintain a healthy saliva flow in your mouth, and saliva plays an important role in washing away food debris and particles that would otherwise collect on your teeth and allow bacteria to thrive.
Supplementary Hygiene Aids
Consider adding supplementary oral hygiene aids to your routine for a hygiene boost. Some helpful supplementary aids include things like mouthwash, interdental cleaners, oral irrigators, and tongue cleaners.
These can all help keep your breath fresh and prevent plaque from building up between brushing and flossing sessions.
These types of tools should not be used to replace a thorough brushing and flossing routine, but rather to improve upon it!
Eliminating Bad Habits
There are certain bad habits you may have that could result in cavities or other damage to your teeth. Chewing your fingernails or chewing on hard objects (like the cap of a pen, for example) can cause chips and cracks to develop in your dental enamel, making it easier for cavities to form in those spots.
Frequent snacking between meals can also create more opportunities for bacteria to build up on your teeth and gums.
As you probably know, smoking can cause a variety oral health problems as well. It inhibits your ability to fight off infection, making it easier for bacteria to thrive, which can result in cavities and gum disease. It also significantly increases your risk of oral cancer.