GOOD ORAL HYGIENE
How is Good Oral Hygiene Practiced?
Maintaining good oral hygiene is one of the most important things you can do for your teeth and gums. Healthy teeth not only enable you to look and feel good, they make it possible to eat and speak properly. Good oral health is important to your overall well-being.
Daily preventive care, including proper brushing and flossing, will help stop problems before they develop and are much less painful, expensive, and worrisome than treating conditions that have been allowed to progress.
Most of us learnt to brush our teeth when we were children and have kept the same technique throughout our lives. Unfortunately, many of us learned the wrong way. Even if we learned the correct method, it’s easy to become sloppy over the years. Brushing correctly isn’t instinctive. Getting the bristles to remove plaque without damaging your gums is a little trickier than you might think.
At your next visit, one of our expert dentists Nishant, Harshada or David can show you the correct method of brushing to suit you. In the meantime, here are a few general pointers about brushing:
Brush at least twice a day
Many oral health professionals recommend brushing just before going to bed. When you sleep, saliva decreases, leaving the teeth more vulnerable to bacterial acids. Teeth should also be brushed in the morning, after breakfast. After breakfast is ideal so food can be removed. But if you eat in your car, at work or skip breakfast entirely, make sure you brush in the morning to get rid of the plaque that builds up overnight.
Brush no more than three times a day
Brushing after lunch will give you a good mid-day cleaning. Remember though, that brushing too often can cause gums to recede over time.
Brushing too hard can cause gums to recede. Plaque attaches to teeth like jam sticking to a wooden spoon. It can’t be totally removed by rinsing, but just a light brushing will do the trick. Once plaque has hardened into calculus (tartar), brushing can’t remove it, so brushing harder won’t help. Try holding your toothbrush the same way you hold a pen. This encourages a lighter stroke.
Brush for at least two minutes
Set a timer if you have to, but don’t skimp on brushing time. Longer is fine, but two minutes is the minimum time needed to adequately clean all your teeth. Many people brush for the length of a song on the radio. That acts as a good reminder to brush each tooth thoroughly.
Change your toothbrush regularly
As soon as the bristles begin to splay, the toothbrush loses its ability to clean properly. Throw away your old toothbrush after three months or when the bristles flare, whichever comes first. If you find your bristles flaring much sooner than three months, you may be brushing too hard. Try easing up.
Electric is fine, but not always necessary
Electric or power-assisted toothbrushes are a fine alternative to manual brushes. They are especially useful for people who are less than diligent about proper brushing technique. As with manual brushes, choose soft bristles, brush for at least two minutes and don’t press too hard or you’ll damage your gums.
Many people never learned to floss as children. But flossing is critical to healthy gums and it’s never too late to start. A common rule of thumb says that any difficult new habit becomes second nature after only three weeks. If you have difficulty figuring out what to do, ask us to give you a personal lesson at your next visit.
Here are a few general pointers about flossing:
Floss once a day
Although there is no research to recommend an optimum number of times to floss, most dentists recommend a thorough flossing at least once a day. If you tend to get food trapped between teeth, flossing more can often help remove it.
Take your time
Flossing requires a certain amount of dexterity and thought. Don’t rush.
Choose your own time
Although most people find that just before bed is an ideal time, many oral health professionals recommend flossing any time that is most convenient to ensure that you will continue to floss regularly. Choose a time during the day when you can floss without haste.
Don’t skimp on the floss!
Use as much as you need to clean both sides of every tooth with a fresh section of floss. In fact, you may need to floss one tooth several times (using fresh sections of floss) to remove all the food debris. Although there has been no research, some professionals think reusing sections of floss may redistribute bacteria pulled off one tooth onto another tooth.
Choose the type that works best for you
There are many different types of floss: waxed and unwaxed, flavoured and unflavoured, ribbon and thread. Try different varieties before settling on one. People with teeth that are closely spaced will find that waxed floss slides more easily into the tight space. There are tougher shred-resistant varieties that work well for people with rough edges that tend to catch and rip floss. Individuals who have artificial teeth such as Bridges for fixed prosthesis may need to use special floss like Superfloss for regular hygiene maintainance.