According to the CDC, over 30% of US adults between the ages of 20-44 have untreated dental cavities. Although it’s not the only cause, poor oral hygiene practices are often to blame for the widespread presence of tooth decay and gum disease. Here at Accent Smile Center, we’re committed to giving you a healthy mouth that looks great, feels good, and functions optimally! You can help us achieve that by maintaining an excellent dental hygiene routine. We’ve listed our top tips for improving your oral health below, so keep reading to learn more!
Replace your toothbrush regularly
The American Dental Association recommends switching out your toothbrush or toothbrush head every 3-4 months for several reasons. Any toothbrush you use has groups of bristles in several different shapes, sizes, and colors. Each pattern is engineered to reach specific areas of the teeth and gums, and the lifespan is based on you brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time. Every time you brush, the friction between the bristles and your teeth wears the brush head down. Over time, this will affect its ability to clean your mouth effectively.
Germs are another good reason for switching your toothbrush out regularly. We brush our teeth to remove the bacteria and food debris that lead to plaque and tartar, and some of that will stay on the toothbrush. That’s why we store them out in the open instead of inside a drawer or medicine cabinet—allowing the toothbrush head to dry in between uses will help keep bacteria at bay, but it will gradually build up. After a few months, you’ll want to replace your toothbrush with a fresh one to keep your teeth and mouth germ-free.
Speaking of germs, you should also toss out your old toothbrush any time you’ve been sick. The germs from that cold or infection can live on your toothbrush, potentially reinfecting you every time you brush. These germs can also contaminate the toothpaste you use, which may spread to other members of your family if you’re using the same tube. To help keep everyone in your household healthy, change your toothbrush as soon as you start feeling better!
Add mouthwash to your oral hygiene routine
Even if you’ve perfected your brushing and flossing routine, there are times when your oral hygiene could use a little boost. Mouthwash isn’t meant to replace brushing or flossing, but it can be an excellent additional tool to boost your dental health! It covers areas of the mouth that a toothbrush and floss may not be able to reach, like the gums and other soft tissues. And if you’ve been struggling with gingivitis, periodontal disease, or even a chronically dry mouth, rinses can be particularly helpful.
There are two basic types of mouthwashes. Cosmetic rinses will temporarily improve your breath and create a pleasant taste in your mouth but won’t kill the bacteria that cause bad breath. Therapeutic mouthwashes do impact oral bacteria and introduce healthy nutrients into the mouth. Some of the benefits you can expect from adding mouthwash into your daily dental hygiene routine are better breath, greater plaque prevention, more effective brushing and flossing, and a reduced risk of cavities.
Brush up on the basics
It’s easier than you’d think to have an ineffective brushing technique! Many people don’t brush often enough, long enough, or thoroughly enough. For the best results, follow these simple guidelines when brushing your teeth.
- Brush all the teeth every time you brush.
- Hold the brush at a 45-degree angle gently against the gum line.
- Brush from the base of the tooth up to the chewing surface.
- Use short, round strokes for the front and the back of teeth.
- Use short, sweeping strokes for the chewing surfaces.
- Be consistent when brushing across each tooth – give equal time to all teeth and do not brush certain teeth longer than others.
- Brush the tongue and roof of the mouth.
You should be brushing at least twice a day for two minutes or longer each time. This will help avoid the accumulation of food particles and plaque, especially when combined with the technique described above. Don’t forget to floss every night before bed! Flossing is essential for oral health, preventing tooth decay and gum disease by ridding your mouth of any food and plaque that’s settled in between the teeth. Follow these tips for the most effective flossing.
- Measure a length of floss that runs from about your fingers to your elbow.
- Wrap the floss around your fingers and glide it in between the teeth.
- Make a “C” shape with the floss and curve it beneath the gum line, taking care not to press too hard or dig too deep.
- Shift the floss to the next finger between each tooth so that fresh floss is used in each space.
Schedule regular dental visits
There are many ways to keep your smile healthy at home, but that doesn’t mean skipping out on regular dental visits. You may think these check-ups are all about getting your teeth cleaned, but we do so much more than polish your pearly whites when you visit our Dickson office! These appointments are important because they allow Dr. Gatgens to:
Detect tooth decay in the early stages—Examining your teeth regularly means we can find cavities while they’re still minor. The earlier we catch them, the easier (and less expensive) they are to treat.
Catch and treat gum disease early—Many people with periodontal disease don’t even realize they have it. We can find signs of this even if you aren’t experiencing any symptoms.
Detect early-stage oral cancer—Dr. Gatgens will check your mouth for signs of oral cancer. This is especially important if you smoke or use tobacco.
Check on any fillings you have—We’ll examine your fillings to make sure they’re secure, and also check for any that are defective or have decay.
Diagnose and relieve dry mouth or bad breath—Dr. Gatgens can find and treat any underlying oral conditions that cause dry mouth or bad breath.
Review your oral hygiene—Our expert team will help you build and maintain excellent dental hygiene habits.
Protect and improve your total body health—Research has linked gum disease to several medical conditions, including heart disease and diabetes.
Safeguard your family’s oral health—Kids need dental care, too. Tooth decay is one of the most common chronic infectious diseases among U.S. children!
We recommend scheduling a dental visit with us at least every 6 months or as recommended by Dr. Gatgens.
Improve your oral health with Accent Smile Center
It’s important to take good care of your smile! By following the guidelines and tips we’ve listed above, you’ll be able to make the most of your dental hygiene routine and boost your oral health. Would you like to learn more about being proactive with your dental hygiene? Get in touch with us today to schedule a consultation or follow-up appointment with Dr. Gatgens!