Maintaining a proper oral hygiene routine is key to avoiding any potential pain, discomfort, and disease in your mouth. When you don’t take care of your oral health, you can subject yourself to gum disease, cavities, bacterial infections, and other ailments that are otherwise preventable. As you grow older, your teeth will become more vulnerable and easily impacted, so establishing a good oral health routine early on will save you time, pain, headaches, and money down the line.
Brushing is the foundation of any good oral hygiene routine. Most dentists recommend brushing your teeth twice a day, usually morning and night. You can brush your teeth more often if you prefer, but remember that you can over-brush your teeth so be careful. When you brush, you should stay in each quadrant of your mouth for at least 30 seconds, totaling about 2 minutes. Most modern electric toothbrushes have an automatic timer that will alert you when the 30 seconds or the full 2 minutes is up. It is best to hold your brush at a 45-degree angle and cover all surfaces of your tooth, aiming for the gums. Brush up and down on the front and back of your tooth, but back and forth on the tops of your teeth. While these specific movements aren’t absolutely necessary, be sure you’re not missing any spots. To avoid any pain or discomfort use a soft-bristled brush and a toothpaste that doesn’t contain any harmful additives.
Flossing is often the forgotten brother of brushing. However, flossing is actually a crucial part of your oral health. Flossing does what brushing can’t do, and that’s getting into the nitty-gritty elements that lie between the teeth. It is recommended that you floss your teeth at least once a day, generally at night before bed so you can get out all the grime from the day. Apart from pulling out leftover food from between the teeth, flossing can help loosen plaque that has built up on the teeth. You can either floss with traditional spooled floss or the individual-use floss picks. You should clean your floss in between each tooth so that you don’t deposit old food from one tooth into another tooth. If you’re using one long piece of floss, you should plan on using roughly a foot and a half. For the floss picks, consider rinsing it in between each use or use multiple picks.
Fluoride is an important ingredient used in toothpaste and mouth rinses. This active ingredient can help keep your mouth clean from bacterial buildup and is crucial in preventing cavities from forming within the mouth. A good mouthwash will differ from person to person and will vary based on individual needs. If you suffer from sensitive teeth, you should opt for a mouthwash that is labeled for sensitive teeth. These formulas will generally have less of the more powerful, irritating ingredients. If you struggle with bad breath, you can look for rinses with added breath-enhancing ingredients. If your needs are more serious, your dentist may prescribe you a prescription-strength fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash.
Your dietary decisions can also impact your oral health just as much as brushing, flossing, and rinsing. The food and drinks you put in your mouth are in constant contact with your teeth. Depending on their ingredients, they can potentially be very damaging to your mouth. Most experts recommend a diet low in refined sugars and high in vegetables and natural sugars, like fruit, to maintain good overall health and good oral health. Foods that are particularly sugary and acidic can corrode the surfaces of the teeth, causing pain and sensitivity. Additionally, apart from the ingredients in the food you’re eating, consider the consistency of the food as well. Foods that are sticky can remain on the teeth for long periods of time and can foster plaque growth. They can also get lodged in between the teeth. Crunchy vegetables and fruits are more often recommended as they tend to not stick to teeth the same way breads and crackers would.
Regular Dental Appointments
The last part of a proper oral health routine is to make time for regular dental appointments. These appointments are important because not only will your oral hygienist provide your teeth with a thorough cleaning, but seeing your dentist regularly allows him or her to keep an eye on your teeth and any potential issues. Generally, if your dentist sees something that could be problematic, they will flag it and monitor it closely. If you skip these appointments, issues that could be prevented or even reversed can progress and become more severe. Seeing your dentist regularly can help prevent gum disease, minimize bad breath, lower your risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, detect oral cancer early, prevent the formation of painful cavities, and can give you a chance to address any issues you may have noticed with how your teeth are feeling, shifting, or moving. Consistent dental appointments should occur every six months, or at least two times a year.