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Visiting your dentist for check-ups twice a year is an essential part of your oral health maintenance.
Unfortunately, these bi-annual appointments will do nothing if a healthy oral hygiene program is not being followed for the other 363 days of the year.
The importance of oral hygiene in daily life can not be overlooked, and it is often your at-home care that keeps your teeth healthy and white.
Because of this, everyone should know their dental hygiene 101.
How to Take Care of Your Teeth and Gums at Home
Brush Your Teeth
Daily dental care starts with brushing your teeth twice a day, usually in the morning and before you go to bed at night.
Daily brushing cleans your mouth from bacteria and ensures that no food particles or plaque remain on the surface of the teeth.
When plaque remains, it hardens to become tartar, which is more difficult to remove and more damaging to your oral health.
Adults and children alike should choose a soft-bristled toothbrush that will not damage or cause trauma to the enamel.
Proper brushing takes two minutes to complete (this means at least 30 seconds per quadrant of your mouth).
Ideally, patients should brush in circular motions that are firm but not hard. Brushing your teeth with extreme force does not clean your mouth better; instead, it may be damaging and weakening your enamel and causing gum recession.
Some patients prefer a manual toothbrush; others opt for an electric toothbrush.
While everyone seems to have an opinion on which is superior, it doesn’t really matter. The important thing is that you are actually using whichever tool you prefer.
Floss Your Teeth
Brushing maintains the surface of your teeth and gums; however, it does not always reach the tiny nooks and crannies between your teeth.
Cleaning between your teeth daily contributes to healthy teeth and gums. If you don’t take this step, you are missing somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 or 40 percent of your teeth!
Flossing with traditional dental floss or the Waterpik® helps to clean out any remaining food particles and bacteria that are trapped in the crevices.
Avoid Tobacco Products
Smoking leads to bad breath, yellow teeth, gum disease, increased plaque build-up, and an increased risk of developing oral cancer.
Tobacco use of any kind is damaging to your entire body and overall health and is something that should be avoided to maintain healthy teeth.
Follow a Healthy Diet
Particles from sugary beverages, snacks, and carbohydrates tend to attach themselves to the surfaces of your teeth and gums, and can collect to form and grow bacteria.
Eating an unhealthy and unbalanced diet also makes it more difficult for your body to resist infection.
Therefore, a poor diet can result in tooth decay and gum disease.
Choose the Right Products
Patients are recommended to choose products with the ADA Seal of Acceptance.
These products will ensure that you are not applying anything damaging to your teeth or your overall oral health.
Is Fluoride Safe?
Fluoride is a naturally occurring molecule found in rocks, soil, and air.
It is also a compound that is added to most water supplies, mouthwash, and toothpaste.
While some individuals have expressed concern about fluoride, fluoride is a safe and necessary ingredient to your toothpaste.
Fluoride is believed to neutralize the harmful bacteria in your mouth, reduce the development of cavities, minimize the pain of existing cavities and tooth decay, and strengthen tooth enamel.
Very rarely, some individuals (usually children under the age of eight) can experience overexposure to fluoride.
This occurrence can increase tooth brittleness and discoloration. Your dentist will be able to identify overexposure to fluoride.