Most of us probably hear the term ‘oral hygiene’ thrown around from time to time, but what does it really mean? Essentially, oral hygiene just means taking steps to keep your mouth clean, meanwhile preventing disease, cavities, bad breath, and other dental problems. It’s important to instill these traits in your children when they are young, and make sure you are being a good role model as well.
5 Things To Do If You Want Great Oral Hygiene
- Brush your tongue. Growing up we were always told to “brush our teeth,” but no one ever really mentions brushing your tongue. As we learn more about the bacteria that lives in our mouths, it becomes more and more evident that you should include brushing your tongue in your oral hygiene routine. Your tongue is home to bacteria and food particles that hide under a thin layer of mucus. If not properly cleaned, you can experience unhealthy buildup that can lead to bad breath, dry mouth, and spread bacteria to your gums. You can use a special tongue scraper, but the bristles of your toothbrush will work as well. Using toothpaste, gently brush the entire surface of your tongue, and finish by rinsing with water. Giving your tongue a nice scrub every time you brush your teeth will keep your mouth feeling fresher for longer.
- Floss: We see patients all the time who swear they floss everyday… but when we see that tell-tale sign of bleeding gums, we have a feeling you might be stretching the truth. We get it, flossing takes time and effort, but it is so worth the time. Flossing regularly can help prevent gum disease, as well as lessen your risk of cavities. Brushing your teeth alone cannot fully clean between teeth, and it makes sense that this is the place where many people experience cavities. To properly floss your teeth, wrap about 18-inches of floss around your middle fingers on each hand. Holding the floss taut, gently slide it between your teeth, pulling back and forth as you do so. When you reach your gumline, carefully pull the floss along the curve of your tooth, and then repeat on the adjacent tooth. Too much work? Flossing sticks make this task a little easier and achieve the same job!
- Keep an eye on your toothbrush. Many people think that their toothpaste, floss, or mouthwash is the most important part of oral hygiene – but just as important is the brush itself. While there is no need to go out and buy a fancy electric brush in most cases, be sure to replace your brush regularly. The American Dental Association recommends replacing your brush every three to four months, as well as taking some other precautions. Make sure to store your toothbrush upright out in the open. This will help to keep your brush dry and prevent the growth of bacteria. Also, watch out for frayed bristles. When the bristles begin to spread out and get frayed, it can be a sign that you are brushing too hard, which can damage your gums and enamel. Frayed toothbrushes do not clean nearly as well as toothbrushes that retain their shape.
- Don’t forget to rinse! Using an antimicrobial mouthwash can help to reduce harmful bacteria that could lead to gingivitis or other gum diseases. Gargling with a rinse can also help to keep your tonsils clean and promote overall mouth health. Mouthwashes that contain fluoride could help to prevent tooth decay, but should not be used by children under the age of six as they may swallow it. It’s best to use mouthwashes designed for kids for your little ones until they learn how to properly use the product. (And that yes, even though this mouthwash tastes like bubblegum, it will give you a tummy ache if you drink it like juice!)
Step 5: Schedule a checkup with Shores Family Dentistry
The best way to ensure that your teeth are clean and your gums are healthy is to schedule a routine dentist appointment with Shores Family Dentistry. Our Fort Collins dentist office is conveniently located off of Boardwalk Drive and has gorgeous lakefront views to add to your experience. Routine dentist checkups are an important step in catching diseases or cavities early, and also offer opportunities to talk with a specialist about cosmetic improvements, like teeth whitening or veneers. Contact us today to set up an appointment!