Properly and consistently maintaining your teeth healthy is important for several reasons. Poor oral health affects appearance, speech, ability to eat, other body systems that become vulnerable to infections, and your finances. Neglecting your teeth and gums will result in health complications throughout your body, especially if you have a medical history of predisposing high risk factors such as diabetes, heart disease, or immunosuppression. Interestingly, in spite of the availability of great dental care in the US, more than half of the American population does not receive dental care on a regular basis.
Performing good oral hygiene is the most important action you can take to ensure the long-term health of your teeth and gums. Regular oral hygiene prevents the formation of dental caries and the development of periodontal disease, two of the most common diseases in the world today! A healthy mouth can be described as having clean teeth, no debris, pink and moist gums, and no bleeding, pain, or swelling. There is no bad breath in a healthy mouth.
Textbook Best Practices
Toothbrushing and flossing are two very simple yet frequently neglected practices that are all you need to do in order to keep your teeth healthy. The most basic principles are as follows:
- Brush your teeth twice a day for 2 minutes at a time, and each time after you ingest a sweet meal.
- Floss your teeth at least daily.
Brushing and flossing remove plaque from your teeth, preventing its buildup and calcification into tatar, which is much harder to remove and needs a professional cleaning by a dental hygienist. Tooth brushing cleans your teeth from debris and plaque from the tooth service and underneath the gum line. The plaque and debris removal is complete with flossing, which helps get rid of these components between the teeth and at a deeper level between the teeth and gums.
Brushing Your Teeth
Using a soft tooth brush is recommended by most dentists in the United States. If the space around your molars is too small, you may want to consider a junior size brush so you can easily reach the back ends of your molars and make sure you are able to clean them well each time.
Sometimes people believe that the harder they scrub their teeth with the brush, the better results they will get. Not so much. In fact, there is a very fine line between good cleaning and damaging your gums or unnecessarily removing tooth enamel. Therefore, the best thing to do is to apply gently pressure at a 45 degree angle underneath the edge of the gum line. Use circular motion and, in case you tend to have a strong grip, try holding your toothbrush just with the tips of your fingers to prevent extreme pressure. Then brush your teeth on the outside, inside and on top.
Make sure you call your dentist if you are experiencing any pain or bleeding while brushing your teeth.
Flossing Your Teeth
Many times, people find flossing much harder than brushing because it requires more dexterity. Patients with arthritis in their hands and fingers come to mind. However, flossing is the only way to remove plaque and debris from between the teeth where the tooth brush cannot reach. Try not to give up on your flossing technique and it will become much easier the more you do it. After all, once a day flossing will not take that much of your time.
Get a piece of floss about 20 inches long and wrap each end on a finger of your choice, one on each hand. Some dentists recommend the middle finger, others recommend the forefinger, but what matters is how you feel most comfortable, so it may take some experimentation on your part. Then, hold the floss with your thumb and the closest finger that does not have the rolled floss on it. Insert the floss between the tooth and the gum, as deep as you can without causing pain. Perform a back-and-forth motion and a slight C-shape motion keeping the C facing that same tooth. Repeat the same on the other side of the tooth, the C will face the other way. Do the same with each tooth. If you are new to flossing, some minor bleeding from the gums in the first couple of days is normal. As the gums get stronger and healthier, the bleeding will stop. Make sure not to press too hard as to cut into the gum tissue!
Attention: the last molar on each side gets a C motion on the back side as well. This is where most of the food gets trapped and the pockets between the gums and the molars are the deepest as a result!
Professional Cleaning Done By Your Dental Hygienist
Some tarter inevitably forms over time, especially in the areas of the oral cavity that are hard to reach with the toothbrush and floss, such as the molars. Professional cleaning by a dental hygienist is recommended every six months for tatar removal, gum and cavity check. The hygienist will gently scrape the tartar off the areas you’ve missed in your daily cleaning, and will then polish your enamel.
Eroding Foods And Dietary Considerations
In addition, be careful with sweets and drinks that contain high amounts of sugar. What matters is how often you consume sweet foods and how quickly after consumption you remove the sugar from your teeth by brushing and flossing them. The more seldom you eat sweets, the less chance you will give bacteria to ferment carbohydrates on your teeth and cause cavities. The quicker you remove the sugar from your teeth, the sooner these microorganisms will disappear and there will be no material for them to feed on and ferment.