The people you notice who have beautiful smiles didn’t get those smiles by accident. Working good oral hygiene practices into your daily routine, along with regular visits to your dentist, can give you a bright, shiny smile, too!
Your dentist loves to see you for those regular check-ups but they actually hope not to see you in between. That would mean your oral health is in good shape.
Your mouth normally contains bacteria and microorganisms that need to be controlled with a proactive oral care routine at home. This prevents bad breath, dental disease, and often expensive, avoidable treatment.
In this article, we’ll go over the importance of good oral hygiene and how you can maintain a good oral hygiene routine.
Oral Hygiene Defined
You need to know exactly what oral hygiene means before you can incorporate it successfully into your daily life. Oral hygiene refers to habits that you can do at home to keep your mouth clean and free of disease. Plus, poor dental hygiene can affect your physical health over time, so this routine is critical for your overall well-being.
Brushing, flossing, using fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash, and eating and drinking properly are some of those common actions that must become habits. If you are unclear about any of these habits, ask your dentist or dental technician to demonstrate for you. They are glad to assist and keep you out of that dental chair in the future!
Plaque and Good Oral Hygiene
Plaque is your mouth’s number one enemy. It is a colorless or a pale yellow, sticky film that continually forms on your teeth. Then when you eat or drink anything, the plaque combines with your saliva and seeps between your teeth and along your gum line. Not a pleasant thought.
Brushing your teeth keeps plaque at bay for four to twelve hours. Continuous work is needed to stop it before it does damage that destroys teeth and leads to gum disease. Once the damage is done your overall health can be affected, too.
That bacteria that normally forms in your mouth can get into your bloodstream through cracks in the teeth, cavities, inflamed gums, and an untreated infection in the mouth. This leads to inflammation and infection everywhere the bacteria spreads.
Diseases Caused By Poor Dental Hygiene
This isn’t a list you want to be on because of poor oral health:
- Heart disease
- Respiratory diseases
- Pregnancy issues
- Erectile dysfunction
- Kidney disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
We don’t often think about any of these diseases being associated with our oral health. But, those habits mentioned earlier, along with regular dental checkups at your dentist’s office, can help you eliminate your teeth as contributors to these destructive diseases.
A Good Oral Hygiene Plan Anyone Can Follow
Any plan that is too complicated to follow is doomed, no matter what the plan is. Habits take about 3 weeks to become part of a routine that is comfortable and automatic. Here is an example of a good oral hygiene routine to stick to:
1. Brush First Thing Upon Rising For the Day
Yes, before you eat anything. This cleans away bacteria that formed plaque overnight. This gives you nice, clean breath to start the day, plus you have a clean mouth that doesn’t immediately start forming plaque with your food and drink from breakfast mixed in.
2. After Breakfast, Brush Again and Rinse With Fluoride Mouthwash or Water
The purpose is to get rid of pieces of food and remove as much plaque as possible before going on with your day. Using a fluoride mouthwash can significantly help reduce plaque buildup, cavities, and bad breath.
3. Brush For Two Minutes, Every Time
Put on a song or podcast you love and brush away for 2 minutes! Make sure you’re getting all the nooks and crannies in the back, both upper and lower. Brushing regularly doesn’t help if it’s a quick swipe and you’re done.
No one likes it, but flossing WILL make a difference the next time you get in that dentist chair! Floss gets past the gum line, unlike a toothbrush. It stimulates the gums, which helps prevent gum disease (gingivitis and periodontitis). Your dental hygienist will cheer the next time you show up and you’ve been flossing daily. It also helps with maintaining fresh and clean breath!
5. Scrape Your Tongue Every Time You Brush
Get yourself a tongue scraper, either from your dentist or the pharmacy. Scraping removes some of that yucky bacteria that ends up on your teeth. It also helps prevent bad breath.
6. Use a Straw
Better yet, stop drinking sugary soda. But if you must, use straws to keep the sugar away from your teeth. Switch to water and help your hydration for the day, too. Rinse with mouthwash after you drink something sweet. Or better yet, brush again!
If you find you need to make adjustments in the routine so it works for you, do it! You may find flossing doesn’t happen for you at night, so change it to a time of day that is convenient for you. It should be consistent, too. If you can’t remember whether you scraped your tongue in the morning, do it every time you brush. Then you don’t have to try and remember.
Talk To Your Dentist and Hygienist For Suggestions
Keeping your teeth and gums in good health is a team effort. Too often, though, patients think it is the dentist’s job to do everything. That isn’t logical. You are the one at home with your toothbrush, floss, tongue scraper, and that favorite song you use to brush long enough!
However, don’t hesitate to ask for help if you are struggling with any part of the routine. Your hygienist and the rest of the dental team devote their whole lives to oral health and will be glad to help you design a customized oral health routine that works for you. Hopefully, you have been seeing the same dentist for some time so that they have your history in front of them. They might be able to pinpoint areas that need to be stressed more. But, you won’t know until you ask!
Effective Oral Hygiene Habits Are a Must
As you can see, good oral hygiene habits are a must for maintaining not only good oral health but also your overall health. By following the routine above you will be well on your way to ensuring that you maintain optimal oral health.
And remember, thorough regular checkups and cleanings are the foundation for effective home oral hygiene practices. Here at TLC Dental Center in Cherry Hill, we are your partner for all your dental needs. We strive to make a visit to the dentist as easy as possible by providing sedation dentistry options, a caring and experienced team, and even our very lovable office dogs who will put you at ease.
If you have questions about maintaining a good oral hygiene routine or want to know the oral health products we recommend, please contact us. We’re here to help!