Good oral hygiene requires work. In order to stay on top of your oral health you’ll want to develop a care routine. Maybe you’re wondering how to expand beyond a toothbrush and floss. We dug deep into the ins and outs of oral hygiene care to help ease you into a routine you’ll stick with.
Oral Hygiene Routines: The Why
Having an oral care routine goes a long way. You not only avoid spending extra time at the dentist, but you also avoid painful repercussions of neglecting your teeth and mouth.
Without an effective oral care routine, you run the risk of developing cavities, bad breath, and gum disease. Cavities and bad breath can be tackled with a few dental office visits or over-the-counter products. However, gum disease is not as easy to battle once it’s set in.
When teeth develop bacteria along the gums, it can lead to what is known as gingivitis. Gingivitis is reversible, but if you don’t seek treatment it can develop into permanent gum disease.
Oral Hygiene: The Must
Your smile is an important feature and should be something you’re proud of. If you lack confidence in your smile, it shows. Invest in your image and self-confidence by developing a solid oral hygiene care routine.
Brushing your teeth is the foundation to having a healthy smile. It’s likely the first step in your oral care routine. Unfortunately, it’s also the only step for many people. Therefore, it’s crucial to use the right tools and techniques for the job.
Toothbrushes can come in what feels like an endless selection of designs. When it comes to your personal oral care routine, you don’t want to grab just any toothbrush off the shelf. Ideally, whichever you choose should inspire you to use it twice daily, regardless of whether it’s manual or electric. You will want to reach for a brush with softer bristles and one that is small enough to maneuver hard to reach areas of your mouth. It’s also important to keep your toothbrush clean and to replace it when you notice wear.
Toothpaste is necessary to use in addition to a toothbrush in order to maintain a glowing smile. You’ll want to choose a brand that contains fluoride for best results. Look for brands with the American Dental Associations(ADA) seal of approval. It’s best to avoid trendy toothpastes, such as those containing activated charcoal, due to how abrasive the products can be.
Techniques you use to brush your teeth are just as important as selecting the right tools to use. The ADA recommends that you brush for two minutes twice a day. You’ll want to first wet your toothbrush and add a small amount of toothpaste to the bristles. You will then take your toothbrush and brush in a short, circular motion, at a 45% angle towards the gums. Brushing your tongue will also help to fight bacteria that cause bad breath and plaque.
The two-minute timeframe can be broken down into 30 second intervals between each quadrant – this means both upper and lower right and left sides. As far as brushing twice a day, stick to morning and night. This isn’t set in stone and you can always brush more often if you feel the need. The key is to wait.
When you consume food and drink the leftover food particles can produce acids that work to erode the enamel of teeth. The ADA recommends that you wait at least 30 minutes to brush your teeth in order to avoid damaging the enamel.
Many people have sat in a dentist’s chair as the dentist asks, “have you been flossing?” Many tell a lie, hoping their dentist won’t notice and consequently judge them for neglecting to floss. There’s a reason your dentist never lets up about flossing (and it has nothing to do with bedside manner): because it’s as vital to maintaining good oral hygiene as brushing, and should be part of your oral care routine.
Unlike with brushing your teeth, it’s only necessary to floss one a day. Ideally, flossing will be part of your nightly oral care routine. Flossing at night will help remove plaque and food particles from between your teeth. When you floss during the day, however, you create a space between your teeth where more plaque and food particles can end up. So, unless you plan to floss multiple times a day, it’s best to leave flossing for the night.
Flossing does more than just protect your teeth from plaque and leftover food. It also helps to stimulate and protect your gums. Gingivitis and periodontal disease can develop and become a lifelong struggle. Flossing helps reduce the harmful bacteria that can lead to the development of gingivitis.
There are as many types of floss on the market as there are toothbrushes and the best option remains the same: choose the one you’ll actually use! Traditional string floss is always a good choice but might feel like more of a hassle to some. If that’s the case for you, try out some of the other options on the market such as plastic floss picks, interdental floss picks, and water flossers.
The next step of your oral care routine should be rinsing. An antiseptic mouthwash will not only promote fresh breath, but it helps to ward off harmful bacteria. Mouthwash is an easy way to practice good oral hygiene because you have immediate results. Your mouth will feel noticeably clean and your breath noticeably fresh.
You’ll want to use mouthwash at least once a day to see results. Rinsing your mouth for around 60 seconds will be all you need to help fight against bacteria and bad breath. Mouthwash gets in hard to reach areas that you might miss after brushing and flossing. You should avoid swallowing mouthwash, as it can contain ingredients that are harmful if ingested in large quantities.
Mouthwash comes in a variety of brands and flavors. Just like with choosing the right toothbrush, you’ll want to opt for a product that contains the ADA’s seal of approval. From there you can choose which product meets your needs. Whether you want whiter teeth, fresher breath, or gum protection, there is a rinse available.
4. Daily Practices and Habits
Preventative care is going to be your bread and butter when it comes to oral hygiene, but your day-to-day habits are going to shape when and how you take care of your teeth. Diet and lifestyle have a huge effect on oral hygiene. Developing a routine to take care of your mouth can seem like a waste of time if you immediately counteract that routine with bad personal habits!
A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is good for your overall health, which includes your mouth. Fruits and vegetables contain fiber and help promote saliva production. A dry mouth will lead to a higher rate of bacteria. Avoiding food with a high salt and sugar content is in your best interest.
Consuming highly acidic foods will cause erosion of teeth’s enamel and makes it easier for cavities to form. Acidic foods also cause painful sensitivity. In order to avoid damaging your teeth and gums, you’ll want to steer clear of acidic foods and drinks. When you do consume them, make sure you wait before brushing your teeth to prevent further damage.
Dark beverages can also wreak havoc on your mouth. Implementing an oral care routine will help combat the damage from sodas or coffee. Coffee and sodas both stain your teeth and have a high ph. When it comes to your caffeine intake, it’s best to drink caffeinated beverages in short durations. Prolonged imbibing of coffee or sodas creates a breeding ground for bacteria within your mouth.
Drinking enough water is vital to healthy teeth and gums. A dry mouth leads to more than bacterial growth. It’s also a culprit for bad breath. So, to maintain a healthy smile and the freshest breath, make sure you’re staying hydrated.
Lifestyle choices will also interfere with the progress of your oral care routine. One of the most problematic of lifestyle choices is nicotine use. Whether you’re smoking or chewing tobacco, you’re ultimately causing major damage to your mouth. Not only can nicotine cause throat and mouth cancer, but nicotine use also have ties to dental deterioration and gum disease.
If you don’t already use tobacco products you’ll want to continue to abstain. For those that do use nicotine products, it’s helpful to be aware of the risks in order to develop a routine for oral hygiene that will properly benefit your lifestyle.
For some people bad habits that are damaging their teeth aren’t as obvious. Grinding your teeth at night can lead to both dental and jaw damages. If you suspect you’re grinding your teeth there are mouthguards available that can help. If you’re finding yourself clenching your jaw and grinding your teeth during the day, you might want to consider reducing your caffeine intake.
Having sparkly white teeth is a desirable trait. If you’re waiting to see your own set of pearly whites shine, there are many routes to take.
Whitening your teeth can be easily implemented into your oral care routine with one of the many at home kits. Teeth whitening, or sometimes called teeth bleaching kits, range in products from toothpaste, mouthwash, gels, pastes, and even led lights. As always, you’ll want to check for the ADA seal.
When speaking to your dentist about adding whitening to your oral care routine, you will be able to learn more about the professional options available. Dentists can offer at-home whitening kits, as well as go over some of the in-office methods with you. Always read the directions for whitening kits closely and use the kits correctly. Improper use of whitening products can cause damage and sensitivity.
You should also rethink some of your lifestyle choices to have whiter teeth. Smoking, drinking dark beverages, and eating darker pigmented foods will lead to staining your teeth.
6. Professional Care
After creating an oral hygiene care routine you’ll still want to visit your dentist. You can brush, floss, and rinse religiously but nothing you do at-home compares to what your dentist can do for your oral health. A dentist can do more than provide preventative care, they can help find the root of your dental problems.
Seeing a dentist twice a year can result in healthier teeth and gums. Bacteria in the mouth turns into plaque, and plaque get stuck on teeth. If some plaque remains after brushing and flossing it can turn into tartar, or calculus. Having regular dental visits can help reduce tartar buildup. Dentists will also be able to aid in performing dental repairs or recommending specialists.
Recommendations for oral hygiene products
Once you create an oral care routine you might want or need to find the proper instruments to get the job done.
We went ahead and put together a small list of dental care products you can use to take care of your smile.
Listerine is the #1 dentist recommended mouthwash brand and holds ADA approval. Total Care is jampacked with oral health benefits and a minty taste. Total Care Anticavity claims to freshen breath, strengthen teeth and enamel, prevent cavities, and clean almost 100% of your mouth.
Due to how popular Listerine is it’s easily accessible. To see best results you’ll want to use Listerine Total Care in addition to brushing and flossing. It’s also important to follow the directions for use.
Floss picks are a popular alternative to string floss. Picks allow for an easy grip and use. DenTek Triple Clean Picks feature three cleaning methods: floss, a textured pick, and a tongue scraper.
A textured pick provides additional assistance when cleaning between your teeth. DenTek Triple Clean Picks also operate as a tongue scraper. Tongue scrapers are known to help reduce bacteria within the mouth and fight bad breath.
Before purchasing floss picks there are some drawbacks you should be aware of. They are made of plastic and will produce a lot of waste over time. Floss picks are also less flexible because they feature a straight line of floss opposed to string floss, which is malleable. However, with the added benefit of a tongue scraper the DenTek Triple Clean Floss Picks are a solid choice for someone wanting to implement flossing into their oral care routine.
When it comes to basic oral hygiene, having a good toothpaste is vital. Colgate Total Whitening Gel boasts full mouth health by fighting bacteria found on teeth, gums, tongues, and cheeks. One of the main ingredients is stannous fluoride, a fluoride compound that is known for its antimicrobial effects.
Although other fluoride toothpastes fight bacteria that cause plague buildup, stannous fluoride is known to help protect from gum disease, tooth decay, and sensitivities.
Colgate is a well known company and many of their products are recipients of ADA approval seals. Total Whitening Gel Toothpaste is in the process of being evaluated for ADA approval.
The AquaSonic Black Series comes with an ADA seal of approval for helping to reduce plaque and gingivitis. The Black Series Ultra has a long lasting, quick charge battery, which can last upwards of 30 days. There are four distinct modes for a standard clean, a soft clean, whitening, and gum massage.
AquaSonic’s Black Series Ultra also includes a travel case and eight replacement heads. Each replacement should last around four months. This toothbrush makes sticking to your oral care routine easy by including a built-in timer. The timer will vibrate in 30 second increments to let you know when to switch between quadrants.
Dental care isn’t something you want to neglect. Having a routine that focuses on oral hygiene and care will make your life easier by warding off dental diseases and reducing time spent with a dentist. At-home preventative measures can amount to a handful of minutes a day and are well worth the effort.
There are many options when it comes to maintaining outstanding oral hygiene. If you have any suggestions on other methods go ahead and tell us in the comments.