Oral Hygiene Basics

Your teeth are a part of physical health and overall appearance that many people take for granted. In fact, a lot of people might not notice oral health issues until they become major problems that take significant time and money to correct. Remember these oral hygiene basics to keep your teeth and gums in good shape between dental visits.

Brushing

Brush your teeth at least twice a day, or more if recommended by your dentist, using a soft-bristled brush and toothpaste with fluoride in it. If you are prone to plaque build-up, consider an electric toothbrush, which is often better at removing plaque than manual brushing.

FlossingToothbrush with toothpaste

Floss daily to clean between teeth and under the gum line. Break off about 18 inches of floss each time, and wrap the excess around your fingers to help you hold it steady. Work the floss in between your teeth one at a time, then curve the floss to help you clean against the sides of each tooth that are touching.

Other Tips

Consider using a fluoride mouthwash every day to remove bacteria in the mouth. There are also a number of specialty products available such as the oral irrigator, a device that uses a stream of concentrated water to remove food particles from between teeth. This device can be safer and less damaging to gums than using floss for the same purpose if your dentist has recommended that floss may be harmful to your gums.

Red Flags

Keep an eye out for red flags that indicate you should see a dentist as soon as possible:

  • Red, swollen or bleeding gums are a major sign of gum disease, which can lead to tooth loss if left untreated
  • Loss of or damage to a tooth should also be examined by a dentist, even if the tooth is only chipped or cracked and doesn’t hurt that badly
  • Other changes you notice like unusual sensitivity to temperature should be reported to an oral health provider

The key to healthy teeth and gums is to establish a daily routine. These tips work best when you do them regularly.