Dental Hygiene

Dental Hygiene Best Practices for Healthier Teeth

Dental hygiene is an essential factor in overall oral health, and with the proper knowledge, you can keep your teeth clean and healthy.

Healthier teeth and gums do not only look good, but they also save you money. If there is no need for dental restoration or other costly procedures, your teeth will be healthier and last longer.

What is the importance of dental hygiene?

Dental hygiene is an integral part of your overall health and wellness. Poor dental hygiene can lead to gum disease, tooth decay, cavities over time, and early tooth loss if left untreated.

By practicing good dental hygiene, you can help keep your teeth and gums healthy. Good oral hygiene habits also extend beyond the inside of the mouth, as it's essential to practice good hand-washing and grooming techniques to avoid transferring bacteria from your hands to other areas around your face and body.

In summary, dental hygiene practices are vital for your entire body. Making sure you brush your teeth twice a day, floss daily, and visit your dentist every six months is key to ensuring the health and longevity of your teeth and gums. Make sure you also practice other healthy habits such as eating well and limiting snacking to keep yourself in top shape both physically and mentally.

So, what are some best practices you can employ every day to keep your teeth healthy?

Dental Hygiene Best Practices

The following are the twelve best practices for dental hygiene:

Brush often

You should brush at least twice a day, but if you can, do it more! After eating, brushing your teeth immediately is recommended to remove food debris and plaque from teeth before they harden into tartar. It would help if you brushed longer than you think—start with 2 minutes each time you brush. Just imagine all the germs that get on your teeth in just an hour!

Use the right toothpaste.

There are many different types of toothpaste, and while they all clean teeth, some products offer additional benefits that might be more important to you than others. For example, whitening toothpaste is widespread and can give your teeth a whiter appearance over time. Fluoride toothpaste helps strengthen the enamel on teeth, protecting them from acids in food and drinks that cause cavities. Some whitening toothpaste contains hydrogen peroxide or baking soda to help remove surface stains quickly without irritating gums during brushing. You should always check the label and ensure that your toothpaste contains fluoride.

Floss properly

Another crucial dental hygiene practice is flossing. Flossing removes food particles and plaque from between your teeth that you cannot reach with a toothbrush. Not only should you floss daily, but also before going to bed at night, so you don't accumulate more bacteria during the day.

Replace your toothbrush often

You should replace your toothbrush every three months because the bristles are worn out after all this time. You can tell it's time for a new brush when you feel more resistance from your toothbrush while brushing.

Use the right toothbrush

Just like using the right toothpaste, there are different types of toothbrushes that you should use for your dental hygiene routine. If you have very tight spaces between teeth, you need a small-headed toothbrush to reach those areas. If you wear braces or other fixed dental work, such as bridges and veneers, then be sure to clean it with a soft bristle brush.

Use a mouthwash after brushing

Mouthwash is not a replacement for brushing, but it can be beneficial as additional protection. Using mouthwash after brushing kills some of the bacteria that brush doesn't reach and makes your breath feel fresher. Don't rinse with mouthwash before brushing because this will decrease the effectiveness of the toothpaste.

Clean your brush properly

If you have a manual toothbrush, you need to clean it in hot soapy water after each use. Rinse it well, and then sit in an upright position to dry. Electric toothbrushes are rinsed under running water when you're done brushing. If you are not careful, the bristles can get loose over time, and the motor can be damaged.

Visit your dentist regularly

One of the best things you can do for your teeth is to visit a dentist every six months for a thorough cleaning and exam. Your dentist will advise you about brushing, flossing, and other dental hygiene practices that will keep your teeth clean and healthy. You may even need to see your dentist more often if you have teeth that are sensitive, misshapen, or crooked.

Limit snacking

Snacks can be delicious, but they also increase the risk of tooth decay because the sugars in them don't get washed away when you brush. So, try not to snack throughout the day; instead, eat meals and healthy snacks to fulfill your appetite. While the foods you eat are important, how often you eat them is just as important. If your teeth are exposed to food for an extended period, then the sugars in that food have more time to damage your enamel and cause cavities.

Eat healthy foods

The best way to protect your teeth from the effects of sugar is to eat a healthy diet. In addition to snacking less, try making meals and snacks that include more fruits and vegetables and fewer sugars and processed foods.

Brush and clean your tongue too

Not only do you need to brush your teeth, but also your tongue. Food particles and bacteria buildup on the tongue can cause bad breath. A tongue scraper is an effective tool for reaching all tongue areas while brushing gently with toothpaste. You may not think about this often, but it's essential to clean your tongue every time you brush your teeth.

Drink more water

Drinking water throughout the day helps to dilute saliva, which keeps bacteria levels low. Saliva washes away food particles and carries minerals back into the enamel for natural cavity protection. If you don't drink enough water, then all of this doesn't happen as naturally, which can lead to tooth decay over time.

References:

Schwartz, Richard S., Venkat Canakapalli, and L. Anthony. "Best practices in endodontics: a desk reference." (2015).  https://www.nature.com/articles/s41415-019-0938-7

Curry‐Chiu, Margaret E., et al. "Dental hygienists’ experiences with motivational interviewing: a qualitative study." Journal of Dental Education 79.8 (2015): 897-906. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/j.0022-0337.2015.79.8.tb05979.x

Russell, Stefanie L., et al. "Toward implementing primary care at chairside: developing a clinical decision support system for dental hygienists." Journal of Evidence Based Dental Practice 15.4 (2015): 145-151. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1532338215001311


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