Develop Good Oral Hygiene Habits for a Lifetime of Health
By Dr. Pandya
It sounds simple, but proper dental hygiene can actually contribute to good overall health. Why? Because brushing and flossing your teeth can prevent tooth decay and gum diseases which have been shown to have a direct, negative effect on health—contributing to everything from heart disease to diabetes to lung disease and other systemic issues. Developing a system of good oral hygiene habits can keep your teeth and gums healthy which eliminates any negative impact to your health.
Practicing good oral hygiene on a daily basis is not a complicated process. It’s as simple as consistently brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing before you go to bed at night while following some easy guidelines to ensure that your teeth and gums are properly cleaned.
Brush your teeth twice a day with the best times being in the morning when you wake up and then again before you go to bed at night.
• Spend time brushing your teeth instead of giving them a ‘quick once-over.’ After all, you have 32 teeth and it takes time to thoroughly clean them.
• Begin brushing by holding your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle along your gum line.
• Move your brush back and forth across every surface of your teeth and use a circular motion as you do so.
• Don’t forget to gently put the bristles of your toothbrush in between your teeth to clean the area and stimulate your gum tissue.
• For cleaning the inside surface of each tooth, hold your toothbrush vertically, gently moving it back and forth.
• Don’t apply strong pressure as you brush. It is the brushing action that cleans your teeth and removes plaque, not the amount of pressure you apply.
• Make sure you clean every tooth…don’t forget the ones way in the back!
• Also brush your tongue and along your gum line because bacteria love to hide in those areas and if left undisturbed, can contribute to bad breath and gum disease.
• After you finish brushing, rinse out your mouth to remove any food or bacteria that you have loosened, along with any toothpaste that still remains.
Caring for Your Toothbrush
Your toothbrush works hard for you, so it’s important to care for it so that it can continue to clean your teeth and help keep your mouth healthy.
• Never let anyone use your toothbrush (or use anyone else’s).
• After brushing your teeth, rinse out your toothbrush with clean water before storing it in an upright position where air can get to it and dry it out.
• Make sure you keep it away from and not touching other toothbrushes that are stored nearby because germs will transfer from one toothbrush to another if given the opportunity.
• Toothbrushes should be replaced every three or four months because the bristles wear down and toothbrushes accumulate unseen bacteria and germs. By replacing them on a regular basis, you prevent built-up germs and bacteria from being reintroduced into your mouth.
• When you buy a toothbrush, pick one with soft bristles and rounded tips because they are most effective for cleaning teeth and gums without causing any damage to them.
• Also pay attention to the size of toothbrush you buy. Stay away from brushes that are so large that they will not be able to easily move around inside of your mouth to effectively clean your teeth.
While brushing your teeth is imperative for good oral health, flossing at least once a day is also necessary to remove any food particles and plaque that can accumulate between your teeth and along your gum line. When the areas between your teeth are not cleaned on a daily basis, cavities and gum disease are often the result.
• Floss at least once a day so that plaque and food particles are removed so they are not negatively impacting your teeth and gum tissue while you sleep.
• To begin flossing, pull off 18 inches of floss and pinch it between your index finger and thumb on each hand. Keep the floss held tightly between your hands as you run it between each tooth in a sliding motion.
• Use a new section of floss for each tooth and use gentle pressure during the process.
Good, consistent oral hygiene, along with regular dental visits, will keep your mouth healthy which contributes to good overall health as well.