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Basics of Oral Health

The Basics of Good Oral Health

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It never hurts to refresh your memory about the basics of practicing and maintaining good oral health. Sometimes when you’re going through the motions of brushing and flossing, you might do it improperly, which undermines your efforts. By following the proper oral health care techniques and scheduling regular dental visits, you’re protecting the health of your mouth and improving your stunning smile.

Brushing Basics

Having clean teeth is the first step in basic oral health care. By properly brushing your teeth twice a day, you keep your teeth, gums, and the area where they meet clean, which helps prevent gum disease and cavities. Along with twice daily brushing, the American Dental Association recommends that proper tooth brushing also includes other important techniques.

  • Take your time – Avoid rushing when you brush your teeth because taking the time to do a thorough job saves you time and money later by helping to prevent oral health issues.
  • Right toothbrush – Use fluoride toothpaste on a toothbrush with soft bristles that works comfortably in your mouth to brush your teeth. Battery-operated or electric toothbrushes can help eliminate more plaque than manual brushing and are a good choice if you have hand issues that make normal brushing challenging. Letting the powered toothbrush perform the scrubbing action is easier on your hands and kinder to your teeth and gums.
  • Proper technique – To remove plaque efficiently, hold your toothbrush at an angle that aims the bristles at the area where your gums meet your teeth. Use short, gentle, back and forth motions to clean the teeth or if you’re using an electric toothbrush, allow the bristles to clean your teeth as you reposition the brush. Brush the chewing surfaces of your teeth along with the inside and outside of them and brush your tongue to remove bacteria found there.
  • Clean equipment – Clean your toothbrush well to prevent the growth of bacteria. Rinse the toothbrush after every time you brush and store it in an upright position so it can dry before you have to use it again. Avoid covering your toothbrush as this encourages bacteria growth. Replace your manual toothbrush or electric toothbrush head every 3-4 months or when the bristles are starting to fray.

Flossing Basics

No matter what kind of toothbrush you use, it’s not possible to reach the tight spaces between teeth and under the gumline without flossing. Floss at least once a day to clean those areas and promote healthy gums. Other flossing tips include:

  • Use enough floss – Take enough floss to do the job well, usually about 18 inches is sufficient. Wrap a majority of the floss around the middle finger of one hand and the rest around the middle finger on your other hand. Grasp the floss securely with your forefingers and thumbs to help guide it between your teeth.
  • Work gently – If you haven’t flossed for a while, your gums may be tender and even if you’re a regular flosser, work gently to avoid irritating your mouth. Gently move the floss between your teeth with a slow, rubbing motion and once you’ve reached the gum line, press the floss against one tooth and carefully work it back up and out.
  • Be thorough – Focus on one tooth at a time when you floss and be thorough by rubbing the sides of your teeth up and down. As you progress through your teeth, unwind fresh floss for each new tooth to ensure proper cleaning.
  • Use different tools – If using normal floss is too challenging for you, try using a special interdental cleaner such as a brush, stick, or pick specifically designed to clean the spaces between your teeth.

Although flossing before you brush may help more fluoride from the toothpaste reach in between your teeth, it’s your decision which cleaning process you do first. When you’re through with both brushing and flossing, you’re greatly improving your oral health.

Additional Oral Health Tools

Along with brushing and flossing, using a mouth rinse that contains fluoride or is antimicrobial helps promote good oral health. When you have food particles that brushing or flossing can’t dislodge, avoid using toothpicks as they can injure your gums. Opt instead for an oral irrigator that uses a stream of water to clean particles from your teeth.

Importance of Dental Visits

Brushing and flossing at home are just part of the bigger picture of maintaining good oral health. Seeing your dentist regularly for cleanings, x-rays, and exams are the most important factor in good oral health because dentists have innovative tools designed to promote healthy teeth and gums. With proper at-home oral health practices and regular dental visits to detect and treat any problems, you can enjoy a lifetime of a healthy, beautiful smiles.

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