Good oral health and hygiene is an important component to maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle. It’s an easy one to take for granted, but it’s also an easy one to stay on top of. Health professionals continue to study the links between the quality of oral health and other health factors including heart disease and infections affecting other areas of the body. Consistent at-home oral care and regular dental checkups and cleanings can go a long way to help keep your teeth and gums healthy and disease-free. Follow these brushing and flossing tips to help you get started:
- Brush your teeth twice a day. It takes about two minutes to do a thorough job, so don’t rush through it. Don't brush immediately after eating, and don't forget to clean your tongue with a toothbrush or tongue scraper – tongues also collect bacteria.
- Use the proper equipment. Use fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush that fits your mouth comfortably. Electric or battery-operated toothbrushes also help reduce plaque, sometimes even better than a manual brushing.
- Practice good technique. Hold your toothbrush at a slight angle and aim the bristles towards the area where your tooth meets your gum. Gently brush with circular short back-and-forth motions. Don’t press too hard – brushing too hard or with hard bristles can hurt your gums.
- Don’t forget the backs of your teeth. It’s easy to only focus on the fronts, so remember to brush the outside, inside, backs, and chewing surfaces of your teeth.
- Swish with mouthwash: Using a mouthwash containing fluoride can add another layer to your oral health regimen.
- Keep your equipment clean. Always rinse your toothbrush with water after brushing. Store your toothbrush in an upright position and allow it to air-dry until using it again. Consider switching between two brushes and allowing one to dry before using it again.
- Know when to replace your toothbrush. Invest in a new toothbrush or a replacement head for your electric or battery-operated toothbrush every three months — or sooner if the bristles become irregular.
- Don't skimp. Cut off about 18 inches of dental floss and wind most of it around the middle finger on one hand, and the rest around the middle finger on the other hand.
- Be gentle. Grip the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers, but don’t floss too hard. Guide the floss between your teeth using a gently rubbing motion. When the floss reaches your gum line, curve it against one tooth, making a ‘C’ shape. Don't “saw” the floss or snap it roughly into your gums.
- Floss one tooth at a time. Use the floss to gently rub the side of each tooth in an up-and-down motion. Unwind fresh floss as you progress to the rest of your teeth.
- Keep up the good work. If you find it hard to handle floss, use an alternative cleaning method such as a dental pick, pre-threaded flosser, a tiny brush that reaches between teeth, a water flosser, or wooden or silicone wedge plaque remover.
Keep in mind that it doesn't matter if you brush or floss first, as long as you do a thorough job – you can't always reach bacteria in tight spaces between your teeth and under the gum line with a toothbrush. In addition to daily brushing and flossing, consider resisting the temptation to use toothpicks or other objects that could injure your gums and let in bacteria. If you smoke, try to quit. Using tobacco increases your risk of gum disease and tooth loss. Other risk factors for gum disease include age, smoking, diet, and genetics. If you are at increased risk, be sure to talk with your dental professional.
Remember, you don’t have to lose teeth to gum disease. See your dentist if you suspect you have gum disease – the sooner you treat it the better.
Every surgical procedure carries potential risks. You should always consult with a dental professional prior to treatment. Potential risk factors may vary depending on medical or other conditions of each patient. The possibility of immediate placement and the use of a prosthetic tooth depends on many factors, such as bone presence and quality, dental history, implant location, and availability of the final restoration. Your clinician will fully describe the possible scenarios to you during consultation prior to surgery. Every surgical procedure carries potential risks. Consult your clinician to find out if dental implants are right for you.