It is important to follow some basic dental care habits, including brushing and flossing. Oral health is very important in ensuring your overall health, and oral health starts with clean teeth. Even if you are told that you have nice teeth, it is still important to take care of them to prevent any future problems. Using the right oral care products and being mindful of your daily dental habits will go a long way in ensuring good dental health.1,2
Basic Dental Care Steps To Protect Your Oral Health
Here are some basic dental care steps to protect your oral health.
Brushing Properly for Oral Health
Oral health starts with a clean mouth and clean teeth. An important step in preventing gum disease is to keep the area where your teeth meet your gums clean and to also keep the tooth surfaces clean so you can keep cavities at bay. Here are some brushing basics to follow every day for the health of your teeth:
- Brush Your Teeth Twice A Day: The key step while brushing is to not rush through the process. Take around two minutes and do a thorough job of cleaning. It is recommended that you don’t brush immediately after eating, especially if you have had something like soda or grapefruit that are acidic in nature. Also, do not forget to clean your tongue because there can be bacteria present on the tongue. You can use either a tongue scraper or a toothbrush.3,4
- Use The Correct Equipment: You should use a fluoride toothpaste along with a soft-bristled toothbrush that fits comfortably in your mouth. You can also consider using an electric or battery-operated toothbrush, which can help decrease plaque and any milder forms of gum disease (gingivitis) more than what normal brushing does. Such devices can also help if you have arthritis or other conditions that make it difficult to brush your teeth effectively.5,6
- Learn The Proper Technique Of Brushing: It is best to hold your toothbrush at a slight angle while aiming the bristles towards the area where your gums and teeth meet. Now gently brush using circular, short, back-and-forth movements. Brushing with hard bristles or too hard can hurt your gums. Brush your teeth for at least two minutes. Brush inside, outside, and on the chewing surface of the teeth. Also, clean your tongue.
- Keep The Toothbrush Clean: Always rinse the toothbrush with water after you finish brushing. Keep your toothbrush in an upright position and let it air dry until you use it again. It is best to keep it separate from other toothbrushes in the same holder to avoid any cross-contamination. It is best not to cover toothbrushes all the time or store them in a closed container, which can encourage the growth of mold, yeast, and bacteria.
- Replace Your Toothbrush From Time To Time: It is essential to know when it’s time to replace your toothbrush. Invest in a replacement head or a new toothbrush every three months. You should replace them sooner if the bristles become irregular or appear to be frayed.
Importance of Flossing
It is impossible to reach the bacteria that stay in the tight spaces under the gum line and between your teeth with a toothbrush. This is why flossing daily is an important step to ensure good oral health.7,8 Here are some steps to keep in mind when you floss:
- Do Not Skimp On The Floss: Cut off around 18 inches (46 centimeters) of dental floss. Now wind most of it around your middle finger on one hand, and the rest of the floss should go around the middle finger on your other hand. Hold the floss tightly between your forefingers and thumbs.
- Floss Gently: You should guide the floss between your teeth in a type of rubbing motion. Do not snap the floss into the gums. When you reach your gum line with the floss, curve it against one teeth. It should make a C-shape.
- Take Time With Each Tooth: As you slide the floss into the space between your tooth and gum, you need to take your time with each tooth. Learn to use the floss gently as you rub the side of the tooth in an up and down motion, and keep unwinding fresh floss when you move onto the rest of your teeth.
- Keep Flossing: Even if you find it difficult to floss, you can consider using other interdental cleaners, including a dental pick, tiny brushes that can reach between your teeth, a pre-threaded flosser, a silicone or wooden wedge plaque remover, or a water flosser.9
Oral Health Care Tips
Here are some generalized tips to help take care of your dental health.
- Do not go to bed without brushing your teeth at night. Dentists always recommend that you should brush at least twice a day. Still, there are many people who neglect to brush their teeth at night. However, brushing before going to sleep at night will help remove the plaque and germs that accumulate in the mouth throughout the day.10 It is important to know that if left unremoved, plaque can harden and lead to a build-up of calculus and gingivitis.11
- Never neglect your tongue because plaque can accumulate on the tongue as well. This can cause foul mouth odor and also lead to other oral health issues. So make sure to gently brush your tongue each time you brush your teeth.12
- It is recommended to use fluoride toothpaste. While selecting your toothpaste, do not look for factors like different flavors, whitening power, and other such things.
- Regardless of what toothpaste you buy, it should contain fluoride. Even though fluoride has been a hotly debated topic and many medical experts worry about how it affects other areas of your health, but fluoride continues to remain a mainstay in the oral health industry. This is because fluoride acts as a protective barrier for your teeth. Fluoride also helps fight against germs that cause tooth decay.13,14
- Consider using mouthwash. When you look at the various glitzy advertisements for mouthwash, it seems like they are an absolute necessity for having good oral health. However, many people tend to skip using mouthwash because they are unsure about how they work. Mouthwash can help reduce the amount of acid present in the mouth, re-mineralize the teeth, and also helps clean the hard-to-reach areas in the mouth. For children and older adults, who have a diminished ability to brush and floss, using a mouthwash can be very helpful. You should ask your dentist for recommendations on which mouthwash to use.
- Drink plenty of water as it is the best beverage you can have, not just for your overall health but also for your oral health. It is important to drink water after every meal as this helps in washing out some of the adverse effects of any acidic and sticky foods and beverages you consume between brushes.
When Should You See Your Dentist?
You should schedule regular visits to the dentist to prevent gum disease and other teeth-related problems. Your dentist will ensure you get regular cleanings done. If you notice any of the following signs and symptoms that may indicate oral health problems, you should contact your dentist:
- Loose permanent teeth
- Tender, red, or swollen gums
- Gums that are starting to pull away from the teeth
- Gums that bleed when you floss or brush
- Unusual sensitivity to hot and cold
- Pain while chewing
- Persistent bad breath
- Having an unusual taste in the mouth
Remember that an early detection and treatment of any problems with your teeth, gums, and mouth will help you ensure good oral health.
- Leao, A. and Sheiham, A., 1996. The development of a socio-dental measure of dental impacts on daily living. Community dental health, 13(1), pp.22-26.
- Hart, E.J. and Behr, M.T., 1980. The effects of educational intervention & parental support on dental health. Journal of School Health, 50(10), pp.572-576.
- Attin, T. and Hornecker, E., 2005. Tooth brushing and oral health: how frequently and when should tooth brushing be performed?. Oral health & preventive dentistry, 3(3).
- Ames, N.J., 2011. Evidence to support tooth brushing in critically ill patients. American Journal of Critical Care, 20(3), pp.242-250.
- Glavind, L. and Zeuner, E., 1986. The effectiveness of a rotary electric toothbrush on oral cleanliness in adults. Journal of clinical periodontology, 13(2), pp.135-138.
- Baab, D.A. and Johnson, R.H., 1989. The effect of a new electric toothbrush on supragingival plaque and gingivitis. Journal of periodontology, 60(6), pp.336-341.
- Froum, S., Lies, damned lies, and statistics: The truth behind the importance of flossing.
- Dairi, L., The Importance of Dental Flossing Practices. Journal for Pre-Health Affiliated Students, p.19.
- Krynicki, R.T., Krynicki and Richard T., 1998. Disposable flossing and debrider device. U.S. Patent 5,704,379.
- Nguyen, L., Häkkinen, U., Knuuttila, M. and Järvelin, M.R., 2008. Should we brush twice a day? Determinants of dental health among young adults in Finland. Health economics, 17(2), pp.267-286.
- Ciancio, S.G., 1992. Agents for the management of plaque and gingivitis. Journal of dental research, 71(7), pp.1450-1454.
- Liu, Y., Home Remedies to Treat White Tongue.
- Tenuta, L.M.A. and Cury, J.A., 2010. Fluoride: its role in dentistry. Brazilian oral research, 24, pp.9-17.
- Arends, J. and Christoffersen, J., 1990. Nature and role of loosely bound fluoride in dental caries. Journal of dental research, 69(2_suppl), pp.601-605.
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