Imagine that you’ve just left your dentist’s office after your routine checkup. Your hygienist has performed your regular cleaning, and your mouth feels wonderful! Soon you start wondering just how long it will be before the plaque and bacteria buildup begin to make your mouth and teeth feel dirty and unhealthy again.
Fortunately, there are several things that you can do to help reduce or eliminate plaque formation on your teeth and keep that dentist’s office clean feeling around for longer.
We’ve all heard that you need to brush your teeth twice a day in order to maintain good oral health. Unfortunately, many people don’t know how they should be brushing their teeth when they do. Sometimes this results in brushing too little, or sometimes even too much.
You should brush your teeth at least twice, but after every meal is actually considered ideal by many dentists. When you brush, you should brush using circular motions on the teeth and gums for two minutes. Many of the modern electric toothbrushes are automatically timed to work for two minutes before shutting off. If you don’t have an electric toothbrush, you can use your phone as a timer, or invest in an egg timer.
When selecting a toothbrush, don’t opt for stiffer bristles. Many patients feel that a stiff bristled toothbrush will be more effective to remove debris from the teeth, but stiff bristles can damage your gum tissue. This means that it can break the bonds of your gums from your teeth and lead to gum recession or even tooth loss.
Ensure that when you brush that you cover all the parts of your mouth. This means every tooth on the upper and bottom arch of your mouth. Don’t forget about both surfaces of your teeth too. This means that you need to brush the outer and inner surfaces.
While brushing can remove most bacteria and plaque from your mouth, it doesn’t get everything. Brushing typically misses the areas between the teeth. If you don’t regularly clean these areas, bacteria can build up and cause cavities, tooth decay, and tooth loss. This means flossing once a day to make sure that you get all the spaces between your teeth. If you are unsure how to floss properly, ask your dentist and they can help guide you through the best way to floss your teeth.
There are many options beyond floss that you can use to clean these interdental spaces too. These include water flossers, dental picks, pre-threaded flossers, interdental brushes, or wooden plaque removers.
While many people have a specific time that they floss their teeth, there is no evidence that flossing before or after brushing is the most beneficial time. Just make sure to floss once a day.
Antibacterial mouthwashes can be beneficial for many patients, but it may be worth checking with your dentist to get their recommendation. Patients who have issues with a dry mouth may find that a mouthwash that includes alcohol only makes their problems worse. Other patients may need additional ingredients to help with persistent bad breath or other dental concerns.
Of course, there is no replacement for enlisting some professional help and allowing your hygienist to conduct another cleaning. Make sure that you schedule a regular dental appointment every six months. If you have an issue or concerns that come up between appointments, it is a good idea to see your dentist sooner rather than wait. Going to the dentist regularly allows them to keep stock of your oral health and can also help catch any problems when they are small.
Arguably the best part of your dentist visit is walking out the door with the knowledge that your mouth is healthy and clean. You can make this feeling last even longer by following this simple advice. Of course, if you have any other questions or concerns, call to schedule an appointment with your dentist today.