Oral Hygiene Habits You Should Adopt to Keep Your Mouth Happy and Healthy
There are two ways to interpret any study: either by focusing on the majority percentage or on the minority percentage—sort of like looking at a glass as half-full or half-empty. Dental professionals tend to focus on the latter, but only because they want all Americans—young, old, and everyone in between—to adopt good oral hygiene habits so their teeth stay healthy and strong.
Case in point: the number of Americans who brush their teeth at least twice a day—the cornerstone of a good oral hygiene routine—is about 70 percent, at least the last time the American Dental Association checked. And only 40 percent of adults floss once a day, which is the recommended frequency. Twenty percent of adults never floss at all.
Dental experts and researchers aren’t the only ones who sweat statistics like these. So do periodontists, or those specialists who treat gum disease. They know that the best way to prevent gum disease—and to keep your mouth happy and healthy in the meantime—is to adopt good brushing, flossing, and lifestyle oral hygiene habits, starting today.
Good Oral Hygiene Requires Good Brushing Habits
- Good brushing habit 1: Brush your teeth at least twice a day and, ideally, after every snack or meal. Remember a favorite dental expression: “When you brush, don’t rush.”
- Good brushing habit 2: Reach for a fluoride toothpaste. Research shows that fluoride prevents cavities while also repairing tooth enamel.
- Good brushing habit 3: Hold a soft-bristled brush—or an electric or battery-operated toothbrush—at an angle. Brush in brisk and short back-and-forth strokes, but not too hard or aggressively. Gums can recede when too much stress is placed on them.
- Good brushing habit 4: Rinse your toothbrush with water thoroughly before placing it in an upright position. Storing it in an air-tight container or drawer can encourage the growth of bacteria.
- Good brushing habit 5: Replace your manual brush once the bristles become frayed. Purchase a replacement head for a motorized toothbrush every three or four months.
- Good brushing habit 6: Don’t brush—or floss—immediately after consuming an acidic beverage such as soda, juice, or a sports drink. It could lead to enamel erosion, so wait at least one hour for your saliva to neutralize the acid.
Good Oral Hygiene Requires Good Flossing Habits
- Good flossing habit 1: Floss once a day to reach the tight spaces between your teeth and under your gumline. This is why you are flossing in the first place: because a toothbrush cannot reach these places. Flossing also removes plaque.
- Good flossing habit 2: Set yourself up to succeed by breaking off a long enough piece of floss. The ADA says you need enough to “wind most of the floss around the middle finger of one hand and the remainder around the middle finger of your other hand. Grip the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers.”
- Good flossing habit 3: Guide the floss between one tooth at a time, using a sliding motion. Then rub the side of each tooth in an up-and-down motion with the floss. Unwind fresh floss as you need it.
- Good flossing habit 4: Give yourself time to get the hang of using dental floss; you should be a pro in no time. But if you dislike using dental floss, switch to a pre-threaded flosser, a tiny brush that reaches between your teeth, a water flosser, or a silicone plaque remover instead.
Good Oral Hygiene Requires Good Lifestyle Habits
- Good lifestyle habit 1: Do not smoke and do limit your consumption of alcohol, both of which can undermine good oral health.
- Good lifestyle habit 2: Cut down on sugary foods, which can lead to tooth decay.
- Good lifestyle habit 3: Tell your dentist of any changes in your oral health, including bleeding, sensitivity, pain, discoloration, sores, or bumps in your mouth. Dr. Sevor will want to know so he can set you on the path to recovery.
For more information about how you can keep your mouth healthy all year long with good oral hygiene, visit our website today!