Keeping your gums and teeth healthy is an essential part of your overall health and well-being. Here, our Manitoba dentists share their top 10 dental hygiene tips for keeping your smile healthy.
Brushing and flossing are part of a good dental routine. However, there are other things you can do to help maintain healthy teeth and gums that can benefit your overall wellbeing.
1. Brush Your Teeth Twice a Day for Two Minutes Each Time
Keeping your teeth clean and healthy begins with regular maintenance. Brushing for two minutes at a time twice a day will help to keep plaque at bay. Patients with children should introduce this concept early, and find ways to make it fun.
To make it easier to clean every tooth, try to spend 30 seconds on each quadrant of your mouth. Using small circular motions, angle the head of the brush towards the gums. Be sure to clean all surfaces, as well as along the gum line, both on the fronts and backs of your teeth. Some patients find using an electric toothbrush helps as well.
2. Floss Daily
It's recommended to floss every night before brushing to remove anything your toothbrush is unable to dislodge. If you only brush and decide you don't need to floss, small particles of food and other deposits that are missed can eventually cause decay. Flossing daily can help you avoid this.
When you first start flossing, it may cause sensitive gums to hurt and bleed slightly. This is natural and will stop in a few days. Make sure you slide the floss up and down along the whole tooth. Don't ignore tight spaces, these are the most important places to floss as your toothbrush can't reach them.
3. Replace Your Toothbrush Once It Starts to Wear
As a general rule, you should get a new toothbrush every 3 months or when it starts to look damaged or frayed. Damaged toothbrushes can't clean the surface of your teeth correctly and can cause damage to your gums. Replacing your toothbrush often also allows you to help keep it clean. Always rinse your toothbrush well and store it so it can dry. Remember to replace your toothbrush if you've been sick to prevent bacteria from being re-introduced into your mouth.
4. Visit Your Dentist Every Six Months
Regular visits allow your teeth to get a thorough professional cleaning twice a year, removing any buildup of plaque and tartar to help keep your teeth and gums healthy. Routine dental exams also allow your dentist to spot any emerging dental issues early on and begin treatment sooner.
5. Maintain a Healthy Diet
Avoiding sweetened foods (such as pop, sports drinks, and candy) as well as including foods high in calcium will help to support strong and healthy teeth. As a side benefit, your body will thank you, too. Some foods that will help to strengthen your teeth include leafy greens, beans, lentils, almonds, yogurt, and cheese.
6. Use Dental Hygiene Products
Brushing and flossing are key to preventive dental health, but you can help keep your teeth in top condition by incorporating supplemental aids into your routine as well. Examples of these products include mouthwash, oral irrigators, interdental cleaners, and tongue cleaners. These aids can help support good oral health and should be used in conjunction with regular brushing and flossing.
7. Stay Hydrated
Sufficient hydration is not only good for your overall health but being hydrated also helps maintain a healthy saliva flow. Saliva aids in dental health by moving food particles through your mouth, preventing most of them from lodging in your teeth where bacteria can grow. It also helps to keep your mouth comfortable.
8. Don't Smoke
Smoking causes superficial concerns, such as tooth staining, as well as severe health issues like gum disease which can lead to tooth loss and oral cancer, among other issues. One of the best things you could do for your oral and overall health is to quit smoking immediately.
9. Consider Dental Sealants
Dental sealants fill the depressions and grooves (fissures) of your molars and premolars, helping to protect your teeth from cavities and plaque. Sealants can help many people, but children and teens are good candidates as they often don't brush as well as adults, leading to a higher rate of cavities.
10. Regularly Examine the Inside of Your Mouth
While regular checkups with your dentist are an excellent preventive measure, issues can develop in the months between visits. To prevent major concerns, you should do a quick scan of the inside of your mouth as part of your daily routine.
Check your teeth and gums for anything that has changed or seems unusual. Make sure you share this information with your dentist or doctor if you find anything concerning.