Oral health begins with clean teeth. Healthy teeth not only enable you to look and feel good, they make it possible to eat and speak properly. Good oral health is important to your overall well-being. Conversely, poor oral hygiene can result in the development of a variety of dental and medical problems such as gum disease, infection, tooth loss and much more.
Daily preventive care, including proper brushing and flossing, will help stop problems before they develop and is much less painful, expensive, and worrisome than treating conditions that have been allowed to progress.
Brush your teeth at least twice a day . Take time to do a thorough job. We recommend taking between 2-3 minutes to brush your teeth properly.
Use the proper equipment. Use a fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush that fits your mouth comfortably. Consider using an electric or battery-operated toothbrush, which can reduce plaque and a mild form of gum disease (gingivitis) more than does manual brushing. These devices are also helpful if you have arthritis or other problems that make it difficult to brush effectively.
Practice good technique. Hold your toothbrush at a slight angle — aiming the bristles toward the area where your tooth meets your gum. Gently brush with short back-and-forth motions. Remember to brush the outside, inside and chewing surfaces of your teeth, as well as your tongue.
Keep your equipment clean. Always rinse your toothbrush with water after brushing. Store your toothbrush in an upright position and allow it to air-dry until using it again. Try to keep it separate from other toothbrushes in the same holder to prevent cross-contamination. Don’t routinely cover toothbrushes or store them in closed containers, which can encourage the growth of bacteria, mold and yeast.
Know when to replace your toothbrush. Invest in a new toothbrush or a replacement head for your electric or battery-operated toothbrush every three to four months — or sooner if the bristles become irregular or frayed.
You can’t reach the tight spaces between your teeth and under the gumline with a toothbrush. That’s why daily flossing is important. When you floss:
Don’t skimp. Break off about 18 inches (46 centimeters) of dental floss. Wind most of the floss around the middle finger on one hand, and the rest around the middle finger on the other hand. Grip the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers.
Be gentle. Guide the floss between your teeth using a rubbing motion. Don’t snap the floss into your gums. When the floss reaches your gumline, curve it against one tooth.
Take it one tooth at a time. Slide the floss into the space between your gum and tooth. Use the floss to gently rub the side of the tooth in an up-and-down motion. Unwind fresh floss as you progress to the rest of your teeth.
Keep it up. If you find it hard to handle floss, use an interdental cleaner — such as a dental pick, pre-threaded flosser, tiny brushes that reach between teeth, a water flosser or wooden or silicone plaque remover.
A floss threader can be used effectively if you have a dental appliance in place such as braces, permanent retainer or a dental bridge.
Clean your tongue
Each time you brush and floss your teeth, finish your dental care routine with a tongue cleaning. The tongue harbors bacteria and food particles trapped under a thin layer of mucus. Remove this odor-causing buildup by using a small dab of toothpaste and carefully brushing the top of the tongue. For a more thorough cleaning, use a tongue scraper. This tool is usually made of soft, flexible plastic and gently peels the thin mucus-based layer of debris from the tongue. Rinse the scraper under warm water after each swipe of the tongue.
A mouthwash rinse used after cleaning your tongue moisturizes the mouth and kills additional bacteria. Remember, maintaining fresh breath goes beyond routine tooth brushing. Getting into the habit of giving your tongue adequate attention will help keep your breath neutral and fresh.