Believe it or not, maintaining good oral hygiene involves more than just keeping your breath fresh and teeth pearly white. Keeping your mouth clean, happy, and healthy is just as important as taking a shower, or maintaining a healthy diet. Did you know that there are billions of bacteria living in your mouth, and if left uncontrolled, that bacteria can lead to plaque buildup, infections, cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease. In serious cases, that bacteria can travel into your bloodstream and lead to much more serious health issues. Yikes!
Now that we've got your attention, here are some simple tips to keep your smile and your body healthy:
1. Brush, brush, brush. The American Dental Association recommends that you brush two times a day, for a duration of two minutes each time. Brush gently in slow, circular motions, while making sure that the bristles of the toothbrush are at a 45 degree angle against the gums... not over the gums.
2. Tongue Scraping. Our tongues are like shaggy rugs that harbor tons of bacteria at the base of our taste buds, and it's one of the main reasons why we get that coated tongue and bad breath. Incorporating a tongue scraper into your hygiene routine will not only remove the bacterial coating, but will also clear out the smell. Your partner will thank you!
3. Floss the teeth you want to keep. The bristles on your toothbrush are perfectly designed to clean the front and back surfaces of your teeth, but those bristles can't reach between each tooth. This is why flossing is vital in maintaining optimal oral health, because the floss can thoroughly clean between the tight contact surfaces where harmful bacteria loves to hide. Starting with about 18 inches of floss, wind most of the floss around each middle finger, leaving an inch or two of floss to work with. Holding the floss tautly between your thumbs and index fingers, gently slide the floss up-and-down between your teeth, while making sure to hug the tooth in a C-Shape. Make sure to not force the floss down to deep, as this may cut or bruise delicate gum tissue. Once you've cleaned the tooth surface, wind the floss through your fingers and continue onto the next tooth.
4. Mouthwash. A quick 20 second rinse after brushing can get rid of any leftover bad bacteria in the mouth. The fluoride in mouthwash can help strengthen tooth enamel, as well.
5. Your toothbrush. Unwanted bacteria and infection can linger on the bristles of your toothbrush, especially if you’ve been sick. This is why it's important to replace your toothbrush with a new one, every 3 months.
6. Going to the dentist. While this might not be the ideal trip you want to take on a weekday afternoon, don’t skip out. Visiting the dentist twice a year can prevent most dental diseases from occurring, or getting worse. Your dentist should be able to spot problems or infections in your mouth more easily and effectively than you can. That’s what they’re trained for, so get to it!
Being proactive with these tips can significantly improve your oral health, so do it everyday!