Between trips to the dentist, you can do a lot at home to protect your smile. Keep your mouth, gums, and teeth healthy for a lifetime with these helpful tips.
How often should I brush?
Toothbrushing is one of the foundations to maintaining a healthy mouth. The bacteria in your mouth can start to develop plaque within an hour of brushing your teeth. Therefore, it is best to brush your teeth 2 to 3 times each day.
When should I brush my teeth?
Brushing first thing in the morning and right before going to bed are the most important times. As well, brushing following meals can help remove food debris which, if left, contribute to tooth decay. It is recommended not to brush immediately after eating, but to do so about an hour or more after eating. The reasoning behind this suggestion is that if you have consumed foods with any acidity or sugars, the tooth surface may be a bit soft and if you are an aggressive tooth brusher, you may remove additional tooth structure if you brush immediately after eating or consuming sugary/acidic beverages. By waiting a period of time after eating/drinking to brush, you are allowing the mouth to re-establish a more neutral pH which will allow the tooth structure to be harder and more resistant to the wear from toothbrushing.
How should I brush my teeth?
The most effective way to brush your teeth is to place your toothbrush at a 45 degree angle aiming towards your gum line. Use a gentle back and forth or circular motion to remove the place and bacteria that are collecting along the surface of the teeth and also along the gum line. Do not use too much force as this will promote gum recession (exposed tooth roots) and can damage the gums. If you are using an electric toothbrush, aim the toothbrush bristles in the same way, but do not move the brush; let the brush do the work for you. Each area that the brush contacts should be gently cleaned for approximately 10 seconds before moving to the next area. Be sure to brush the inside and outside surfaces of the teeth as well as the chewing surfaces. You can also brush your cheeks and tongue to remove bacteria from these surfaces which may contribute to bad breath.
Do I really need to floss?
Flossing is the only way to effectively remove the plaque and bacteria from between your teeth. Your toothbrush bristles simply cannot reach these areas. We commonly see cavities develop right below the area where two teeth touch and these cavities could easily be prevented with regular, effective flossing.
How do I floss?
When using your floss, use a piece that is approximately the length of your hand to up your elbow. Wrap the floss around your middle finger on each hand so you manipulate the shape of your floss to adapt to the shape of the tooth. Use a back and forth (“see-saw”) motion to gently slide the floss between the teeth. When bringing the floss upwards, be sure to adapt the floss in a c-shape against the tooth in front, and then the tooth in back of the space in which the floss was placed. Proper flossing will not only reduce your risk of cavities between the teeth but reduce your risk and the effects of gingivitis and periodontal (“gum”) disease. Ask your dentist or dental hygienist to show you the proper flossing technique; we love to help you prevent cavities at home before they even start!
Should I use a mouth rinse?
A mouth rinse can be a useful adjunct to a good oral hygiene regimen. If using a mouth rinse, ensure that you are using one with fluoride. The fluoride helps to strengthen the teeth and prevent future cavities. Ask your dentist or dental hygienist which mouth rinse might be best for you, as there are rinses also available for those with high cavity rates and dry mouths.
I often gets sores in my mouth. Is there something I can do at home to help?
Frequent sore should be checked by a dentist as the cause of these sores can range from very minor to very serious. For mild soreness, a gentle saline (salt water) rinse can be helpful. If any soreness or redness persist, be sure to have your dentist check the area.