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Dental Hygiene 101: Things You Probably Know But Sometimes Forget

Taking proper care of your teeth is good for you on more than one level. It isn’t just about maintaining a beautiful smile or avoiding all sorts of dental problems. Healthy teeth help protect your overall well being.

The best way to avoid dental hygiene issues and by extension reduce the risk of health issues in other parts of the body is to practice good oral hygiene every day. Here are a few things that you were likely taught in years past. If any of them have slipped your mind, today is the day to put them back into regular use.

Start With the Right Toothpaste

Not all toothpaste products are the same. Even products with the same ingredients may or may not include equal amounts of those ingredients. Your goal is to find a toothpaste that has a decent amount of fluoride and other ingredients that your dentist recommends. Once you find the right one, stick with it until something better comes along.

Remember the price is not an automatic indicator of the product’s quality. You’ll find that there are some lower-cost brands that include similar levels of key ingredients as you find with the pricier ones. Focus more on what’s in the product and less on price. You’re likely to come up with several options that are affordable and will do the job nicely.

Did you know that flavor is one of the factors that motivate people to brush two and three times a day? Find one that you happen to like. If spearmint leaves your mouth feeling fresh for hours and you love the taste, then go for it.

Choose the Right Kind of Toothbrush

When you look for a toothbrush, you’ll see all sorts of designs and features. Some have soft bristles while others have medium or hard bristles. The heads may be elongated or shorter. Perhaps the handles are plan or come with some design element that makes it easier to grip. The heads may be straight or slanted.

What sort of brush would be right for you? Ideally, it should include bristles that make it easier to clean the surfaces while also getting much of the residue trapped between teeth. The handle should be long enough to be easy to grasp. The head should allow you to thoroughly brush one or two teeth at a time.

Your best bet is to talk with your dentist about what features the right toothbrush will have for you. It’s not unusual for dentists to have free samples that patients can try. If that sample turns out to do a great job, use it as the model for all future brushes that you buy.

And Remember to Replace Your Toothbrush Regularly

Even the highest-quality toothbrush will only last so long. Choosing to hang onto a brush that’s past its prime will not do you any favors. It’s a good idea to replace it as soon as you notice the bristles are beginning to look a little frayed or bent.

Many professionals recommend investing in a new toothbrush every three months. The American Dental Association confirms this by recommending new toothbrushes every three to four months. Remember that a fresh toothbrush allows you to get more out of each round of brushing. That includes helping your mouth feel fresher for longer periods.

Remember the Tongue When You Brush

While you may do a great job of brushing the gums when you brush your teeth, how much attention do you give to the tongue? Quite a bit of bacteria clings to the tongue’s surface. Not all of it is washed away when you drink something or use a mouth rinse.

The best approach is to use the brush to gently massage the tongue. Many professionals recommend starting near the back and brushing forward. Just as you rinse vigorously to remove the toothpaste from the teeth, do the same with the tongue. You get rid of bacteria that could lead to gum or other types of dental issues, plus your mouth feels fresher.

Can’t Brush Right After a Meal? Time for Some Water

The goal is to brush after every meal. There are times when that may not be practical. For example, you’ve grabbed a quick lunch and need to get back to work quickly. Even if you keep a spare toothbrush and tube of toothpaste in your desk drawer, there may not be time to do a thorough job.

Water won’t remove all the residue, but it will help. Swish the water around your mouth a couple of times, remembering to spit after each round. The action helps to reduce residue that’s resting on the top of your teeth. Some experts claim that this will reduce bacteria and residue by as much as 30%. While that’s no replacement for brushing, it does help to some degree until you do have time to get out the toothpaste and give your teeth a thorough brushing.

Mouthwash is Your Friend

Mouthwash is usually touted for improving your breath. What’s sometimes overlooked is how using mouthwash helps to remove a little more bacteria and residue. You can use it right after brushing if you want the most benefits. Even if you can’t brush right now, rinsing with mouthwash will remove more residue and bacteria than using water alone.

What kind of mouthwash is best for you? This is another area where you want guidance from your dentist. A professional will recommend the ingredients to check for and you can find one or two products that have what you need. As with toothpaste, go for something that leaves a pleasant taste in your mouth; you’ll be more likely to use the product regularly.

So is Flossing

Even people who brush and use mouthwash after every meal sometimes slack off when it comes to using dental floss. The effort is sometimes what makes it easy to leave this part of dental hygiene off the agenda. Others are not sure how to floss properly.

Remember that floss makes it easier to get rid of residue that collects in between teeth. This reduces the potential for cavities and other dental issues. If you’re not sure how to use floss, your dentist will be happy to show you. Consider investing in some type of flavored floss if that will make this part of the routine more pleasant.

An Annual Checkup is Not a Luxury

Not seeing a dentist for an annual checkup is not an option. Even if your teeth seem to be fine, confirmation from a professional is a good thing. If there is anything happening with your teeth or gums, prompt treatment will prevent the condition from getting worse.

Neither is Teeth Cleaning

One of two teeth cleanings per year ensures there is no residue left on or between your teeth. That increases the odds of having healthy teeth for more years. You also get to enjoy that ultra-fresh sensation that lasts for hours after your appointment.

Even if you don’t have dental insurance, your teeth still need checkups and cleanings. There are dental financing options available. Use them to pay for the checkups and cleanings now and retire the balance over time. Along with helping you with basic dental care, this same method will come in handy if you need a filling or some other type of dental procedure.

There are more tips that will help you practice the best dental and oral hygiene possible. Check out resources like the American Dental Hygiene Association as well as information provided by local dentists. You’ll find that many of the strategies used to maintain excellent dental hygiene are easy to do, don’t take much time, and will pay off in terms of healthy teeth and gums for many years to come.