For most of us, thorough daily oral hygiene lays the groundwork for a healthy smile. Just a simple routine of brushing and flossing, in addition to regular dental check ups, can be enough in most cases to help prevent tooth decay, gum disease and bad breath. Here are a few tips to help you develop a good oral hygiene routine:
- Brush twice a day.
- Use a toothpaste that contains fluoride to help prevent tooth decay.
- Place your brush at a slight angle toward the gums when brushing along the gum line.
- Use a gentle touch-it doesn’t take much pressure to remove the plaque from your teeth, and a vigorous scrubbing could irritate your gums.
- Concentrate on cleaning all the surfaces of the teeth. Brushing your tongue gently can help remove bacteria that cause bad breath.
- The object of brushing is to remove plaque from the tooth surface and from under the edge of the gum, on the inside and outside of the tooth. It is important to remember that periodontal disease starts under the gum edge, and placing the bristles in this area is important when brushing.
- A major source of bad breath in healthy people is microbial deposits on the tongue, especially the back of the tongue, where a bacterial coating holds onto organisms and debris that contribute to bad breath. Food stuck between teeth, around the gums and on the tongue may also leave an unpleasant odor as it decays. Some studies have shown that simply brushing the tongue reduced bad breath measurements by up to 70 percent. After brushing your teeth, brush your tongue a few times to finish the routine.
- Floss once a day.
- Cleaning between your teeth is every bit as important as brushing. Since brushing can’t effectively clean between teeth, it’s important to use floss to get to those areas.
- Technique: Once the floss goes past the contact point of two teeth, slide it between the gum and one of the teeth as far as it will go, without causing discomfort. The floss is moved up and down several times, until the plaque is dislodged. When you hear the floss “squeak”, the tooth surface is clean. Don’t remove the floss, but rather slide the floss against the other tooth, and repeat the procedure. Each time the floss goes between two teeth there are two places that must be flossed: the side of one tooth and the side of the other tooth. These are two separate steps.
- Other items also are available to help you clean between your teeth. Ask your dentist which ones to use. As with brushing, use a gentle touch to avoid injuring your gum tissue.