The health of our mouth plays a large role in maintaining overall well-being and quality of life. The importance of dental health cannot be overstated, as it directly affects various aspects of our daily functioning. A healthy mouth allows us to chew our food effectively, promoting proper digestion and nutrient absorption. A healthy mouth allows us to speak clearly and effectively, influencing our communication with others and boosting self-confidence. In addition, good dental hygiene contributes to preventing severe issues like gum disease(periodontitis) and cavities. By creating a consistent oral care routine, individuals can minimize the risk of infections and painful conditions, preserving their natural teeth for a lifetime.
Neglecting oral care can have consequences for both oral health and well-being. Without proper dental hygiene, plaque builds up on the teeth along the gumline, leading to calcification and tartar and the start of gum disease. These conditions cause discomfort, pain, and if left untreated, can result in the loss of teeth. Beyond the physical implications, neglected oral health can also affect a person’s confidence and social interactions. Research has shown that poor oral health is associated with an increased risk of systemic health issues, such as heart disease, diabetes, and respiratory infections. Poor oral care can, therefore, have far-reaching consequences beyond the mouth, highlighting the importance of maintaining a proper dental hygiene routine.
Daily Oral Care Routine
It is currently recommended by dentists to brush twice a day for two minutes with proper technique. We refer to the Modified Bass method as proper brushing. The Modified Bass technique is to angle the bristles of a manual toothbrush at 45 degrees to the gums and brush in a gentle circular motion making sure to touch the buccal(cheek side) and lingual(tongue side) as well as the biting surface of every tooth. It is important to avoid side-to-side and aggressive brushing to prevent excessive wear of the enamel. Using this technique, you can safely remove plaque and bacteria while preserving tooth structure.
Flossing is still recommended as daily basic care for oral hygiene. It is the best way to clean in between teeth. Toothbrush bristles do not effectively clean in between teeth. To floss correctly, use a piece that is about two feet long–long enough to wrap it around your hands to get a nice firm and controlled grip. Pinch the floss between your thumb and forefinger with about one to two inches of floss between your hands. Push the floss between the space of the teeth. Slide the floss across each surface of both teeth with a C shape all the way down into the gums. Move the floss up and down to scrub the interproximal surfaces. We recommend flossing once per day to keep the gums healthy.
Rinsing your mouth with mouthwash is a nice addition to brushing and flossing but is not as essential. Focus on mastering the first two, and you will have very good oral health. Mouthwash helps reduce the overall bacteria load in the mouth. Preferably use a rinse that doesn’t include alcohol.
Choosing Your Oral Hygiene Products
There is an overwhelming number of toothbrushes, toothpastes, mouth rinses, floss, and other oral healthcare products available. It seems like every year there is a new 9 out of 10 dentists recommended toothpaste that is supposed to whiten your teeth while preventing gingivitis and cavities.
To be effective in your oral hygiene, we recommend just focusing on the basics. Search for a soft-bristled toothbrush and change it out whenever the bristles become bent and frayed. You should expect to replace your toothbrush about every three to four months.
For toothpaste, we currently recommend fluoride-containing toothpaste as it helps strengthen and remineralize enamel. It is a safe bet to use toothpaste with an ADA recommendation label on it. Some toothpastes have a desensitizing agent like Sensodyne which can help if you are experiencing any sensitivity, but consider seeing a dentist regarding the sensitivity in case it is caused by a cavity or other problems.
Maintain a Balanced Diet
One of the best things you can do for your overall health and oral health is to drink enough water and stay hydrated. Drinking water throughout the day helps cleanse the teeth. It contributes to your dental health without having to put much thought into it.
Fibrous vegetables help with clean teeth, too. Make sure to consume vitamin-rich foods as deficiencies can show up in the mouth. Avoid sugar-rich foods such as candy and sugar-filled beverages. Acidic beverages such as soda and energy drinks also contribute to the breakdown of enamel. Make sure to reduce your consumption of carbohydrate-rich foods such as chips and crackers as they break down into simple sugars and stick to your teeth.
Visit Your Dentist Regularly for Checkups
Unfortunately, our teeth require some professional routine checkups. We only get one set of adult teeth, and they can’t heal themselves, so it is up to us to take care of them if we want to keep them. It is recommended to see your dentist every six months. This allows the dentist to assess the condition of your mouth and catch problems early. We look for cavities, gum disease, infections, and possible signs of oral cancer. Things happen, and it is best to catch it early. Your dental hygienist will professionally clean your teeth and make sure the calcified buildup is removed to reduce your risk of periodontal disease.
These are the basic principles of maintaining your oral health. It is easy to get caught up in products and marketing, especially when there are millions of dollars being spent to get them into your hands. Understanding the basics of keeping your mouth healthy will get you far ahead in your oral health journey. There are a lot of other factors that determine the health of your teeth, some we can control, and some we cannot. We can mitigate most of those issues with the good oral health habits described here.