Oral hygiene is one of the most noticeable traits a person can have, but the importance of a healthy mouth doesn’t stop there. Without proper care, those pearly whites can harbor bacteria which may cause bad breath, cavities, and gum disease. A clean, healthy mouth is simple with the correct oral hygiene.
The first line of defense is the toothbrush. Opt for a soft bristle brush with a small head; electric or manual. Avoid medium and hard brushes with large heads because of their abrasiveness to teeth and gums. Even the most careful of brushers can easily rub off beautiful white enamel or cause gingival recession otherwise known as gum recession. Gum recession exposes the roots of the teeth which can make gums tender and may even cause infection. Unless your dentist recommends otherwise, teeth should be brushed twice a day. Brushing too often may irritate the teeth and gums and a two minute brushing both morning and night is all a healthy person needs to maintain a brilliant smile. Brushing less than once a day may lead to periodontal disease which can then eventually cause coronary heart disease and strokes. Gum disease also increases a person’s risk of stomach ulcers, lung disease, pneumonia, diabetes, and low birth weight babies. So by spending only four minutes a day brushing now, you can save hours in the dental chair and doctor’s office later.
Choose a toothpaste that is recommended by the ADA. Fluoride toothpaste is the recommended choice as it helps the tooth become more resistant to decay. Fluoride also encourages re-mineralization; a process that repairs early tooth decay before it can actually be seen to the naked eye. Although the brand or form of toothpaste does not matter, customers should avoid toothpastes that contain sodium pyrophosphate which can cause tooth sensitivity. Some toothpastes include the anti-bacterial ingredient Triclosan which has the added benefit of reducing bad breath for as long as 12 hours. When you have finished brushing your teeth, don’t forget to brush your tongue! This can prevent bad breath. If halitosis is a problem, look into purchasing a tongue scraper.
Flossing the teeth is great for getting rid of the sticky film of bacteria that resides around the gums and between teeth. Everyone should floss once a day with either the old fashioned wax floss or interdental cleaners. When flossing, gently rub the floss in between the teeth. Curve the floss against one tooth while rubbing up and down. Make sure to floss every tooth; even the back of your last teeth.
The next step to a perfectly clean mouth is the mouthwash. Make sure to use a mouthwash that does not contain alcohol. Alcohol dries out the mouth which increases the risk for cavities and oral disease. Also, reconsider using a mouthwash that has stannous fluoride which can stain teeth.
Seeing the dentist regularly will allow your dentist to detect problems with your teeth and gums earlier than you can by simply looking at your teeth or waiting for sensitivity or pain to tell you something is wrong. It is far better to prevent and fix cavities and gingivitis than to have to deal with root canals and removing teeth! People generally see the dentist anywhere from once a year to every three months. This depends on the person; their personal dental history, their risk for infection and disease, their immune system, among other factors.
Brushing and flossing your teeth, using a good quality mouthwash, and seeing the dentist regularly are the foundations for a healthy mouth and body. With these simple steps anyone can have a great smile to be proud of.