Having good oral hygiene habits, especially starting in childhood, can drastically reduce your chances of experiencing an oral disease or infection. In fact, poor oral hygiene is the number one cause of dental disease. The majority of people already know that brushing and flossing are important, but there are other steps you can take to prevent or control dental disease. Below is some additional information on at-home care techniques.
If you’ve been to the dentist in the past few years, you’ve likely been told that it’s important to brush your teeth twice a day, every day. Brushing is crucial for preventing dental decay, but using proper brushing technique is equally important:
- You should brush for a full two minutes each time you brush, making sure to work on the very back corners as well as the front. Some electric toothbrushes come with a built-in timer, making it easier than ever to keep track of how long you brush. If two minutes seems long, try working your way up from one minute, adding 10 seconds each day until you are brushing for the full two minutes. Your future smile will thank you!
- If the bristles of your toothbrush start to look bent up or tangled, you are likely brushing too hard, which can make your gum line start to recede. Use light pressure when brushing, and always use a soft-bristled brush.
Brushing alone cannot remove food particles and plaque buildup between the teeth. In fact, one of the most common places people get cavities is between their molars, where bacteria often gets trapped. Flossing once a day is crucial to maintaining a healthy smile. Using proper flossing techniques can make flossing easier and more effective:
- When putting the floss between your teeth, gently move the floss back and forth as you pull down, rather than forcing or snapping the floss into place and hitting your gums.
- Don’t just move the floss up and down between the teeth. Instead, curve or press the floss against the base of the tooth, and try to reach all the way down to the gum line. Use light pressure and a tiny scraping motion as you move the floss up and away from the gums.
- Use a clean section of floss for each tooth. Usually, about 18 to 20 inches of floss is sufficient for your whole mouth.
- Most dental professionals recommend flossing in the evening before bed so that food particles are not in contact with your teeth all night. However, flossing any time is better than not at all!
Most people know that sugar is bad for your teeth, but many other simple dietary changes can limit bacteria growth and slow the process of dental decay.
- Avoiding sugary drinks, such as soda and fruit juices, can go a long way in preventing dental decay. If you can’t go cold turkey, try to think of sugary beverages as treats to have every once in a while. Also, drinking through a straw can limit soda’s contact with your teeth.
- Sugary treats like cookies and candy create an environment where oral bacteria can flourish, but other carbohydrate-rich snacks, such as crackers and pretzels, can stick to your teeth and cause a similar effect. Additionally, foods that seem healthy, such as yogurt or granola bars, can hide added sugars. Break up your sugar consumption with vegetables, raw fruits, cheese, and other snacks that are healthier for teeth.
- It’s impossible for most people to cut out carbohydrates like bread completely, but changing the way you eat these foods can really help your teeth. Try to eat only at specific meal or snack times, rather than snacking all day long. Not eating for a few hours after a meal or snack allows your saliva to do its job and fight bacteria. Additionally, drinking water between meals is good for your teeth and your body.
Benson Dental in Sioux Falls, SD
If you need dental care, give our office a call. Some conditions just can’t be treated at home, and our staff is here restore your beautiful smile and prevent painful oral health problems.