Do you know how important dental hygiene is to your oral health? Chances are you probably don’t think about dental hygiene very often, unless you have a dental appointment coming up. While it is not necessary to obsess over your dental hygiene routine, it is nevertheless important to at least give it some thought from time to time to make sure you are practicing good hygiene habits.
Good dental hygiene can make the difference between a healthy, beautiful smile and a smile affected by tooth decay and gum disease. In fact, good dental hygiene has been shown to dramatically decrease your risk of developing these common dental problems. This is because dental hygiene is all about minimizing the amount of plaque and bacteria in your mouth. Dental plaque is a thin, clear coating that sits on the surface of your teeth. Unfortunately, it traps both food debris and the bacteria responsible for causing tooth decay and gum disease. In fact, plaque is a breeding ground for these bacteria.
Therefore, to prevent the accumulation of plaque and harmful bacteria, good dental hygiene is a must. While you likely have heard about the importance of brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing once a day, here are some other dental hygiene habits:
Use Fluoridated Toothpaste
There are many types of toothpaste available, however the best kind of toothpaste is one that contains fluoride. This is because fluoride helps to strengthen the tooth enamel to make it more resistant to decay-causing bacteria.
Change Your Toothbrush
Did you know that an old toothbrush is not as effective as a new toothbrush? Like anything else, your toothbrush will eventually wear out and need to be replaced. In most cases, you should replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months, as well as after you’ve been sick. Replacing your toothbrush after you’ve been sick minimizes the amount of bacteria you are putting into your mouth. Additionally, replacing your toothbrush when the bristles are frayed, bent, or discolored ensures that the new toothbrush will effectively remove plaque.
Many people don’t use mouthwash simply because they don’t understand how it works. Using mouthwash after meals is beneficial because it rinses your mouth and reaches all the places that your toothbrush and floss misses. Not only that, but mouthwash coats the teeth and makes it harder for plaque and tartar (hardened plaque) to form. However, it is important to note that mouthwash is meant to be used as a supplement to brushing and flossing.
Regular Dental Cleanings
Although this isn’t something that you do yourself, it is still an important part of your dental hygiene routine. It is recommended to have your teeth professionally cleaned at least once every six months, although your dentist may recommend more frequent cleanings if needed. During a professional cleaning, a dental hygienist will use special dental tools to remove plaque and tartar from places that you may have missed during your daily brushing and flossing sessions. Not only that, but they can help educate you on how to keep your teeth clean and healthy.
The bacteria responsible for causing tooth decay and gum disease feed primarily on the sugar that comes from the foods and beverages we consume. This means that when you consume a lot of sugar, you are indirectly feeding the bacteria and encouraging them to reproduce. Conversely, decreasing your sugar intake helps to control bacterial populations. Instead of sugary snacks, try munching on crunchy vegetables that will help improve your oral and overall health.
Dr. Admar holds dual certificates — a Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) in 2010 from India and a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) in 2014 from Canada. He is now a full time practicing dentist in Kamloops where he provides a variety of services. Dr. Admar spends hundreds of hours in continued dental education to stay up to date in cosmetic and implant dentistry and he has achieved several advanced qualifications.