Did you know, 95% of Americans regard oral health as a critical part of their well-being, but more than one third of Americans fail to floss their teeth on a daily basis?
Establishing an at-home preventative oral health care routine is imperative to a healthy mouth for both children and adults.
PROPER BRUSHING HABITS
How many times should teeth be brushed?
The ADA recommends brushing teeth a minimum of twice a day; after breakfast and before going to bed. If able to brush your teeth additional times during the day, particularly after eating, it would be beneficial and can help prevent cavities.
How long should I brush?
Brush teeth a minimum of 2 minutes each time with a fluoride toothpaste. When brushing pay special attention to the teeth in the back of your mouth. After brushing, remember to spit and do not rinse. This helps the fluoride to stay on your teeth longer.
How often should a toothbrush be changed?
Replace a toothbrush every 3 months. Toothbrushes wear out and become less effective over time. If using an electric toothbrush, check the manufacturer’s suggested practices around replacing the head of the brush. Additionally, always replace a toothbrush after getting sick.
Rinsing and storing a toothbrush
Rinse with hot water to avoid the toothbrush retaining germs in the bristles and store in an upright position, in a place where it can air dry. If there are several toothbrushes in the same holder try to separate the brushes. Avoid storing a toothbrush in a closed container, because bacteria and microorganisms are more likely to grow in this type of environment.
Do not share toothbrushes
When sharing a toothbrush there is a high risk of exchanging microorganisms and body fluids that can increase the chances of getting sick.
Pick the right toothbrush – Look for an ADA Seal of approval
- Soft, medium, or firm bristles – soft bristles are generally recommended by dentist
- Consider an electric toothbrush
- Do not brush aggressively or too hard
PROPER FLOSSING HABITS
Why is flossing is so important?
Flossing is just as important as brushing. Brushing cleans about 60% of teeth so it is necessary to floss daily to prevent tooth decay. The plaque that forms between the gum line and teeth can only be removed by flossing. Flossing polishes teeth’s surface, but also helps to control bad breath and prevent periodontal disease, which can be linked to major systematic illnesses.
How often should I floss?
Brush teeth a minimum of twice a day and floss at least once a day. The best time to brush and floss teeth is after breakfast and before bed. If an excuse for not flossing is that it takes too long, try flossing the top teeth in the morning and the bottom teeth at night. It does not matter if you choose to floss before or after brushing, or the flavor or type of floss. The important thing is that flossing is part of an everyday oral health care routine.
What is the correct way to floss teeth?
- Take a piece of floss, about a foot and a half long, and wind most of it around the middle finger on one hand.
- Then, wind some of the rest of it around the middle finger of the other hand.
- Hold the floss firmly between the thumbs and index fingers (the finger next to the thumb) and choose two teeth to place the floss between.
- Curve the floss into a “U” shape and gently slide it between the teeth towards the gums. Carefully floss up and down in the space to get out any food that might be there.
- Repeat this between each tooth. This should take between two and three minutes. Once you have finished, rinse your mouth out with water.
Consider some of the tips listed below, in addition to daily brushing and flossing, for living a lifestyle that promotes good oral health.
Use a fluoride mouth wash
- Look for an ADA Seal of approval
- Use twice a day, after breakfast and in the evening before bed
- Swish for a minimum of 30 seconds
- Follow the manufacturer's recommendations for dispensing
Eat a healthy and balanced diet
- Limit sugary and acidic beverages and foods
- Drink more water
- Eliminate midnight snacking
- Smokers are twice as likely to lose their teeth than non-smokers
- Smoking stains teeth, making them yellow or brown
- Smoking increases bad breath
- Smoking increases the risk of oral cancer and gum disease
See the dentist twice a year for a check-up.
A few small changes in an at-home oral health routine can make difference in long term dental health. A dentist can help to remove any plaque build-up or gum disease that had already appeared, but daily oral health care is up to you.