Professional dental care is its own reward in many ways: a beautiful smile, greater enjoyment of food and drink, and overall better health in the long-term. But getting terrific results is a collaborative effort between you and your Harker Heights dentist. It’s important that you do your part by maintaining good oral hygiene habits.
The best practices for brushing and flossing seem to have remained tried and true for decades, but researchers are always trying to improve the techniques and tools that are part of our brushing regimen. As you read this article, keep in mind that everyone’s mouth is different. You should talk to us during your next office visit if you’re considering changing your teeth-cleaning ritual.
The Toothbrush: Find Your Fit
A toothbrush needs to fit comfortably in your mouth while reaching all the way to your back teeth. For most people, that means a smaller head and an angled handle. A brush head with a combination of short and long bristles is most effective for cleaning all sides of a tooth, and most people respond better to the gentler feel of a soft or medium bristle that won’t irritate the gums.
An electric toothbrush is an effective device, but you can clean your teeth just as thoroughly with a manual toothbrush.
Toothpaste: Look for the ADA Seal
The American Dental Association requires that toothpaste adhere to certain standards before giving a product its seal of approval. Companies conduct clinical trials or laboratory research to prove their products meet ADA criteria. Always look for that label when buying toothpaste.
Choosing among pastes, gels, or powders is more a matter of preference than therapeutic value. You may choose pastes that include whiteners or are designed for sensitive teeth, but the most important ingredient to look for in a toothpaste is fluoride. Any ADA-approved toothpaste will contain this mineral for preventing and fighting tooth decay.
Going Beyond the Brush to Get Between the Teeth
Flossing, rinsing with mouthwash, and similar tooth-care measures are no less essential than brushing. These activities dislodge food particles and help prevent plaque build-up and gum disease.
Dental floss, tape, or special dental floss picks are all effective tools. If you want a mouthwash to do more than hide bad breath, make sure it contains fluoride and an active ingredient for fighting bacteria.
Brushing up on Your Technique
Spending at least two minutes brushing your teeth on all sides after every meal is still conventional wisdom for tooth care. But here are some ways in which you might be brushing your teeth wrong:
- Starting With a Wet Brush: Start with a dry brush: Apply toothpaste to your brush without wetting it first to maximize the fluoride protection.
- Rinsing After Brushing: Don’t rinse after brushing. Rinsing with water after you brush reduces the time fluoride can spend repairing your tooth enamel. It is better to just spit out any excess toothpaste.
- Finishing With Mouthwash: Many people consider a swig of mouthwash to be the final step in their teeth-cleaning ritual. But even a mouthwash containing fluoride ends up diluting the decay-fighting effects of toothpaste. It’s better to use mouthwash before brushing, or use it at completely different times than when you brush.
- Brushing After Acidic Food and Beverages: Hold that brush, coffee breath!: Acidic food and drinks wear down your enamel. It is actually better to rinse your mouth out with water after consuming coffee, tea, orange juice, citrus fruits, etc. Then wait a half hour or so to ensure you’re brushing for maximum effectiveness.
We’re always happy to spend time talking to you and your family about your brushing routine. Please don’t hesitate to bring up questions you may have at your next dental appointment at Knights Family Dentistry.