Establishing a routine of quality dental health habits is one of the best things you can do for oral hygiene, now and far into the future. In this article, we’ll review some dentist-approved tips for healthy teeth and gums and inform you on manageable ways to incorporate them into your daily hygiene regimen.
For more immediate information on how best to care for your teeth and gums, get in touch with your local Baltimore dentist by contacting Federal Hill Smiles today!
Caring for Your Teeth & Gums
Understanding how to care for your teeth and gums, counterintuitive as it may sound, actually begins with understanding the roots of tooth decay. Inside each of our mouths, billions of tiny microorganisms called bacteria live at a single moment. If that bacteria builds up, over time it will form a sticky substance called plaque, then tartar, and either or both of these are the largest contributors to tooth decay and gingivitis, or gum inflammation. When left untreated, gingivitis leads to a condition called periodontal disease, a nasty affliction that causes receding gum lines, dental sensitivity, and even tooth loss.
So how can you best protect your teeth from decay and associated gum issues? You can start by assessing your diet. If you regularly eat sugary foods or drink sweetened beverages, from cookies to cola, there will be a higher concentration of bacteria in your mouth. This means that plaque will build up faster, and you’re at a greater risk of suffering from cavities or inflamed gum tissue. To mitigate this risk, limit the amount of high-sugar foods and drinks you consume. And when you do enjoy them in moderation, be sure to floss and brush regularly, properly, and thoroughly.
Dentists recommend that you brush your teeth twice per day, ideally once in the morning and once at night, after your last meal. When selecting a toothbrush, find one with soft to medium bristles, as using an old or rigid toothbrush can scrape away the essential enamel that protects your teeth. Your toothpaste should contain fluoride, a natural preventative agent against decay. Lastly, you should floss or use interdental cleaners (think of a gently applied toothpick) at least once per day to stimulate saliva flow and to help clear out bacteria-harboring food particles.
Proper Brushing Technique
Begin by bringing your soft- or medium-bristled toothbrush to your gums at a 45-degree angle. Placing the bristles over your teeth, use a horizontal motion to gently brush your pearly whites in strokes about the width of each tooth. Repeat this gentle motion over the front, back, and chewing surfaces of each tooth. When cleaning your very front teeth, switch to a vertical stroke, maintaining the same soft touch and careful force. Lastly, clean your tongue with the brush. This removes the bacteria responsible for bad breath, and keeps your mouth smelling minty fresh for much longer.
Proper Flossing Technique
Using a dentist-recommended, waxed variety (flavored or non), unspool about a foot and a half, or 18 inches, of dental floss. Wind the floss around the middle finger on each hand, holding the thread in place with your forefinger and thumb. Just like with brushing, use a gentle motion to rub and guide the floss into the spaces between your teeth.
As the floss moves upward and approaches your gum line, shift your hands so that the floss curves into a semi-circle or “C” shape. This allows you to safely apply the floss to the area between your gum and your tooth without causing any scratches or tissue damage. Move the floss back down and repeat the process on the opposite side of the tooth, continuing the process throughout the mouth.
As you proceed with flossing the rest of your teeth, be sure to maintain a taut but not tight hold of the floss, as you want a bit of tension to stimulate the gums and properly scrape away unwanted debris before it can build up into plaque.
So long as you brush twice per day and floss at least once per day, if not after every meal, you’re well on your way to long-term oral health.
If you’re unsure how best to manage your dental hygiene routine or you’re simply seeking a routine check-up or cleaning, please call the medical professionals at Federal Hill Smiles. We’ll make sure you leave with a wider and whiter smile than when you first walk in!