The best preventative care for your dental health is to practice excellent oral hygiene at home every day. Oral hygiene is essentially the process of caring for your mouth by keeping your gums and teeth clean to avoid unwanted dental problems. Poor dental hygiene can lead to many different types of dental problems like dental caries (cavities caused by various kinds of bacteria in the mouth), gum inflammation, tooth pain, halitosis (bad breath), and more severe complications such as gum disease, tooth loss, bone loss and even systemic problems that may affect your overall health. Proper oral hygiene is your best defense to keep those dreaded cavities and other dental troubles at bay.
It’s never too late to establish good habits when it comes to caring for your teeth and gums. Oral hygiene actually consists of a combination of things you should do to care for your mouth. Brushing your teeth is a very important part of dental hygiene, however, brushing alone is not enough. There are three key elements to proper oral hygiene – brushing, flossing and rinsing on a daily basis. Brushing your teeth should be done at least twice daily using proper brushing techniques. Flossing is also an important part of oral care and should be done at least once each day. In addition to flossing and brushing, rinsing your mouth with a dentist recommended mouthwash or mouth rinse will help to further reduce bacteria and will leave your mouth feeling clean and fresh.
Oral Hygiene at Home: Blueprint for Proper Oral Care
Brushing your teeth and gums twice daily with a toothbrush is the most effective way to eliminate food as well as that sticky film, containing bacteria, that forms on your teeth (also known as plaque). After you eat foods that contain sugar, acid can be released from the bacteria in your mouth which will essentially attack tooth enamel. Brushing for at least 2 to 3 minutes, two times per day, will help to reduce your chances of getting cavities or gum disease caused by plaque.
There are many different options when it comes to selecting the right toothbrush for your oral care.
- Manual toothbrush – manual toothbrushes come in all different shapes, styles and sizes. Bristles are designed to cover the tooth surface but how effective they are at cleaning your teeth is totally up to you based on your brushing technique. Different size brush heads are available for different age groups from infant through adult. There are also many different bristle patterns to choose from as well as different handle designs for improved grip and control. Bristle texture (soft, medium or hard bristles) is also an important factor to consider. Your dental provider can help make recommendations on the type of toothbrush that will best meet your own personal needs.
- Electric toothbrush – at the push of a button an electric powered toothbrush can help to give you more effective cleaning action due to its rotating-oscillating toothbrush head. Electric toothbrushes typically have rechargeable batteries and plug into an outlet to charge the unit. There are also electric toothbrushes with inductive charging (or wireless charging) done through a charging station. An electric toothbrush typically has a smaller bristle head with automatic bristle motion – either a back and forth oscillating motion or rotation oscillation (where the bristles moves clockwise and counterclockwise). These types of toothbrushes are also known as rotary toothbrushes. They will typically provide a range of anywhere from 1,300 up to 8,800 automated rotations or oscillations per minute, depending on the type of brush used.
- Sonic Powered toothbrush – the sonic powered toothbrush takes electric toothbrushes to a whole new level. The sonic powered technology provides 32,000 brush strokes per minute with vibrations that help to clean areas that the bristles may not even touch. Bristle heads are larger (more like a conventional toothbrush) with a side to side motion. Sonic powered toothbrushes are excellent for regular and deep cleaning and are often available with added features such as gum massage. It is the ultimate weapon against plaque.
Flossing Everyday Will Help Keep Plaque Away
Flossing is an important part of your oral care regimen and should be done at least once per day. During your visits to your dentist you are sure to hear your hygienist, as well as the dentist, talk about the importance of flossing. Yet so many people avoid this important task and believe that brushing alone will keep their gums and teeth clean and healthy. Flossing is necessary to clean those tight spots in between teeth and at the base of the tooth and gum line where a toothbrush cannot reach. Flossing can help to remove food that gets caught in tiny little places in your mouth (such as in between teeth). If the plaque on your teeth is not removed by brushing and flossing, it hardens and attaches itself to tooth enamel (above and below the gum line) and becomes tartar which promotes gum disease.
Oral Hygiene and Rinsing with Mouthwash
It will be a huge benefit to your oral hygiene if you can get into the habit of rinsing your mouth at least twice daily. Although we do not like to think about it, our mouths are loaded with bacteria and germs which can affect our oral health. Rinsing your mouth with an antimicrobial mouthwash can aid in killing bacteria on your teeth, tongue and gums and will also give you a fresh, clean feeling.
Using an anti-microbial mouthwash or mouth rinse that contains fluoride is also an excellent way to help prevent dental caries. Fluoride is absorbed into the enamel of the tooth and helps to repair enamel and strengthen teeth. Anything you can do to keep your teeth strong and healthy and free from tooth decay should be a welcome addition to your oral care.
Each of the three key elements of oral hygiene (brushing, flossing and rinsing), will help to keep your teeth and gums healthy. One without the other, however, may not be effective and give you the defenses you need to totally avoid tooth decay or gum disease. When brushing, flossing and rinsing are done consistently together and on a daily basis, you will be giving yourself the best possible chance at having excellent oral health and steering clear of dental woes. At Ascent Family Dental your oral health is very important to us. We are happy to assist you in putting together an excellent oral hygiene program that is best suited to your individual needs.