An effective oral hygiene routine involves more than brushing and flossing. To maintain your oral health and keep your teeth and gums disease-free, follow the steps outlined in our guide below.
Regular Professional Cleanings & Checkups
Visiting the dentist regularly (for most people, that’s every six months) is extremely important when it comes to maintaining your oral health.
Your dentist has the expertise and the tools necessary to remove plaque and tartar buildup that you can't remove yourself with normal brushing and flossing.
In addition, your dentist can identify developing dental problems, and treat them before they become serious. Cavities, gum disease and even tumors and cysts are often not apparent to the untrained eye in their early stages, so it's important to get your oral cavity evaluated regularly by a dental professional.
To keep your teeth and gums healthy between dental appointments, brush two or three times a day, for two minutes at a time. Spend 30 seconds brushing each “quadrant” of your jaws (upper right, upper left, lower right, lower left). Carefully brush all the exposed surfaces, including the sides and biting surfaces, of each tooth.
You should floss your teeth every night before bed. Flossing dislodges bacteria and food debris that would otherwise build up between your teeth, where your toothbrush can’t reach.
Insert the floss between two of your teeth and run it up and down the side of each tooth, pulling it into a “c” shape. Go slowly and be thorough, flossing between every two teeth.
Eating a healthy diet rich in calcium is essential when it comes to keeping your teeth healthy from the inside out. Keep sugars and starches to a minimum, as oral bacteria thrive on these.
Drinking enough water may help prevent cavities! Staying sufficiently hydrated will help you maintain a sufficient saliva flow, and saliva washes away food debris and particles that would otherwise collect on your teeth and allow bacteria to thrive.
Supplementary Hygiene Aids
Oral hygiene aids can help support your regular brushing and flossing routine. Some good supplementary aids include tongue cleaners, mouthwash, interdental cleaners, and oral irrigators.
These aids can help prevent plaque buildup and keep your breath fresh between brushing and flossing sessions. Just remember that they are not sufficient replacements for a thorough brushing and flossing routine.
Eliminating Bad Habits
Some bad habits may cause cavities, even those that are not not directly related with oral hygiene. For example, chewing your fingernails or hard objects like pen caps can cause damage to your dental enamel, making it easier for cavities to form in those spots.
Snacking between meals can give bacteria more opportunities to build up, and smoking hinders the ability of your mouth to fight infection, making it easier for bacteria to multiply. This, in turn, can result in cavities and gum disease. It also increases your risk of oral cancer.