Good dental hygiene is about consistency and having the correct routine. You’ll never beat plaque if you take days off, but a bad routine won’t be effective even if you stick to it.
So, if you’re looking to maintain a beautiful smile, here are 9 elements that the best dental hygiene routines contain.
1) Regular Brushing with Correct Technique
The foundation of good dental hygiene is brushing. This allows for the physical removal of plaque and tartar, which is the bacteria that comes from the food and drink we consume.
Dentists recommend that you brush at least two times a day (in the morning and evening), and there’s no reason not to do so sometime after lunch as well.
However, it’s certainly possible to over-brush and do damage to your gums—any more than 3 times a day verges on obsession.
Of course, Brushing is one thing, you must also use proper technique to actually remove bacteria effectively. You should move your toothbrush in a circular fashion, ensuring you cover the front and back of your teeth, as well as the full surface of the molars (the flat teeth at the back of your mouth).
2) Don’t forget the Tongue and Gums
Bacteria does not just form around your teeth. You will also get a build-up on your tongue and gums. However, because the tongue and gums are soft tissue, don’t brush too hard as this can cause damage and even bleeding.
Flossing and rinsing will also help you with these areas.
Flossing is essential for reaching spots between teeth and gums that brushing cannot reach. This is especially true for the gum-line. Flossing should be gentle with pressure towards the tooth (not the gum), but always ensure you go below the gum line to release any bacteria that’s trapped. Even if you can’t see anything with your own eye, it’s still having an effect.
Flossing at least once a day is ideal and you should spend between 2 to 3 minutes.
It’s surprising how many people do not rinse properly after brushing and flossing, but it is important, as it gets rid of all the bacteria you have removed and helps with the process of removal itself. Simply spitting out the toothpaste (or worse, swallowing it), is not sufficient.
Take a few mouthfuls of water from the tap and swill it around your mouth and teeth for a proper rinse. Gargling can also help if the back of your throat is sticky.
Following this up with an oral rinse product will ensure your mouth is the freshest it can be.
Your dental hygiene routine will always benefit from a professional input, that’s why you should make regular visits to the dentist. They will give personal advice and offer regular cleans (scale and polish) that are much more thorough than you can do at home.
Likewise, they may also offer corrective and preventive procedures. Although these can be quite expensive, there are many funding options available online.
6) Electric Brush
While most dentists agree that with proper technique a manual brush can be good enough for maintaining oral health, electric toothbrushes are still more efficient. The rotating and pulsing head and vibrations effectively dislodge plaque and tartar, and modern “sonic” brushes reach up to 48,000 movements per minute—which is simply not possible by hand.
7) Chewing Gum and Toothpicks
We’ve all felt meat and other food get stuck between our teeth during certain meals, but it’s not always possible to go brush our teeth. A good alternative is the old-fashioned wooden toothpick.
Likewise, if you want to ensure you keep bacteria to a minimum between brushing, chewing gum can help. Of course, this should at least be sugar-free gum. However, the best variety is xylitol gum, which directly targets the bacteria itself.
8) Diet and Drinks
You can have the best dental hygiene routine, but what you eat and drink plays an important role. Eating refined-sugar and food rich in carbohydrates and drinking alcohol, promotes bacterial growth, while drinking wine, tea, and coffee can also stain the tooth enamel and cause discoloration.
A typical healthy diet is also healthy for your mouth. You can, however, overdo the consumption of fruit (especially in smoothies), which are high in sugar and acidic—which can damage tooth enamel.
Ideally, you should primarily drink water, especially after meals. This helps wash away any excess food debris or initial build-up of bacteria.
9) Don’t Smoke
A beautiful smile is a white smile and smoking commonly causes yellowing of the teeth due to the chemicals in the cigarettes.
By incorporating the above tips into your dental hygiene routine, you should be able to maintain a beautiful smile for years to come.