Even those who aren't dentists agree- a smile makes everyone look brighter, prettier (or more handsome), and, in general, of better and happier health. However, poor dental hygiene may make it uncomfortable for anyone to do something as simple as showing their smile. Some people may not practice the best dental hygiene. Others can simply be caring for their teeth improperly. Here are some dental hygiene tips to help you maintain good, healthy, and white teeth in-between visits to the dentist.
Start Children Early on Good Dental Care
Despite our education to teach children about dental problems like tooth decay, dental health is still an issue. Nearly 1 in 5 children aged 5 to 11 years have at least one untreated decayed tooth! Pediatric dentists agree that a child’s dental care should start as soon as their first tooth appears. This usually occurs at around six months of age. A baby’s teeth can be wiped with a clean, damp cloth. You can also use a very soft brush, without toothpaste. At about age 2, kids can try brushing for themselves. Supervise your kids to make sure they brush properly.
Keep your Toothbrush as Clean as Your Dentist’s
You don't need special equipment or covers to keep the brush itself clean. A thorough rinse in warm water will ensure that food debris and leftover toothpaste do not remain in the bristles. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control recommends against using dishwashers, microwaves, or ultraviolet devices to disinfect toothbrushes, as this may damage the toothbrush itself.
Dentists generally recommend against storing your toothbrush in a covered or closed container. In fact, the American Dental Association warns that covering your toothbrush can actually breed new bacteria and introduce it into your mouth. Bacteria like to grow in dark, warm and moist places, just like a toothbrush cover. Simply keep your toothbrush stored upright, and allow it to air dry.
Don’t Brush Your Teeth Too Hard or Too Often
Dentists usually recommend firstly that you grip the toothbrush like a pencil so you don’t scrub your teeth too hard. Brushing too hard can wear down enamel and make your teeth cleaning duties work against you. Dental professionals also recommend that you brush your teeth by placing your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against your gums. From there, instead of using a straight up and down back-and-forth motion, move it in a circular motion about your teeth. This maximizes the ability of your toothbrush to remove food particles and stains from all around your teeth. Don’t forget to brush the back of your teeth too!
The ADA recommends brushing twice per day, for at least two minutes per brushing. If you are having difficulty brushing your teeth for a full 2 minutes (or remembering to), there are a few options you can try. You can set up a 2-minute song, YouTube video, or simply set a timer nearby. This will help you remember and gauge the time you need to do a good, thorough teeth cleaning. A leading kids dentist even recommends that kids can sing their favorite nursery rhyme while brushing, ‘brush-up’ on their ABCs, or recite flash cards to help make teeth cleaning more enjoyable.
Dentists Say, ‘Floss Once Per Day’
As diligent and good as brushing regularly is, it is a complete solution to giving yourself a good teeth cleaning. Brushing will clean the surface of your teeth, but it leaves the spaces in between teeth uncleaned, where bristles cannot reach. Dental experts say that this is where flossing comes in to play. It helps to get rid of food residue and other detrimental substances stuck between the teeth. If you really care about your dental hygiene or just want to step-up your teeth cleaning routing, do as your dentist told you, and get into the habit of flossing at least once per day.
Eating Smart is a Good Dental Practice
Foods that are firm or crisp, like apples, raw carrots, celery, and popcorn, will help clean teeth as they're eaten. For best results, make 'detergent' foods the final food you eat in your meal if you know you won't be able to brush your teeth right after eating.
On the other side of the table, there are a few things that most dentists say can actually be responsible for dingy teeth. If you consume items such as black tea, coffee, or red wine, they can stain your teeth. Smoking cigarettes also contributes to tooth discoloration. Frequent staining will cause your teeth to be “not-so-pearly-white”. In addition to regular a teeth cleaning, a good dental practice to combat staining is to swish some regular water after consuming the item to minimize the staining effects. You could also rinse your mouth (or dentures if you use them) in a mouthwash that contains a good bleaching agent.
Rinse or Chew Gum After Meals
You don’t want to run to your toothpaste and toothbrush every time you eat. Instead, try rinsing with water after your meal. This helps remove excess food particles from your teeth before they can stain your teeth. You can also chew gum afterward. Chewing gum stimulates saliva production, which helps give your mouth a little teeth cleaning session. Make sure to use sugar-free gum, or else you will be adding to the problem, rather than helping.
Make an Appointment With Your Dentist Every 6 Months
Dental care experts generally recommend a visit with your dentist at least once every 6 months. A good dentist, such as the top quality dental care professionals at LiveWell Dental Care can make sure your teeth are as clean and healthy as possible. They use a special gentle dental technique that leaves their patients relaxed and comfortable while the dentist does their work.
In addition to a good teeth cleaning, a regular dental exam also helps spot any potential issues, such as bruxism (teeth grinding) or gum diseases such as gingivitis or periodontitis. Like any other medical care, identifying and treating the problem early will prevent bigger dental issues in the future. However, most dentists agree that almost all tooth decay and most gum disease can be prevented with good oral hygiene. So let’s all start today to keep our smile beautiful!