Do you visit the dentist every 6 months for a cleaning? If so, great job! Part of keeping your teeth looking bright and feeling healthy is scheduling regular dental check-ups. But it’s not the only part.

It’s important to make a concentrated effort to maintain your dental health throughout the year. This means developing an effective day-to-day dental care routine.

In this blog post, we’ll share our best tips for taking great care of your teeth at home. Do your best to stay on track with your brushing, flossing, and other oral care. Then, visit Timberhill Dental for your cleanings twice a year.

Brushing Your Teeth

Taking care of your teeth at home starts with brushing at least twice a day. There are many reasons why regular and consistent tooth brushing is important, including:

  • Maintaining Fresh Breath: No one wants to deal with bad breath. The best way to avoid smelly breath is to keep your mouth clean!
  • Preventing Gum Disease: Failing to brush your teeth will lead to a buildup of bacteria-filled plaque. Built up plaque will eventually lead to Gingivitis, the first stage of gum disease.
  • Preventing Cavities and Tooth Decay: Plaque is acidic. The acidity in plaque dissolves the enamel surface of your teeth causing tooth decay and cavities.
  • Reducing Risk of Heart Attack or Stroke: Bacteria in your mouth can travel down the bloodstream, increasing the likelihood of cholesterol buildup in your arteries. This cholesterol buildup can contribute to your chances of having a stroke or heart attack.

Brushing your teeth at home is clearly an important habit to adopt. Below we’ve outlined some best practices for doing it right.

Hard or Soft Toothbrush?

It’s a common myth that hard-bristled toothbrushes are better at scrubbing away plaque. In reality, a hard or even medium bristled toothbrush can actually damage your teeth and gums.

Avoid scrubbing your teeth as hard as possible. Instead, aim to remove plaque as gently as possible. We always recommend using a soft toothbrush to get the job done. A soft toothbrush will save your enamel, protect your gums, and keep your teeth and gums looking sparkling clean.

One last tip: replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months!

What Kind of Toothpaste is Best?

Choosing a toothpaste can seem tricky– there are so many options! Look for a toothpaste containing Fluoride. Fluoride is important for strengthening tooth enamel. It also makes your teeth more acid resistant, which prevents tooth decay.

If your teeth or gums are sensitive to cold or hot, opt for a toothpaste containing a desensitizing ingredient like strontium chloride or potassium nitrate. These ingredients can help lessen the discomfort.

How to Properly Brush Your Teeth

Here’s our simple step-by-step guide for brushing your teeth correctly.

  1. Use a Small Amount of Toothpaste. A pea-sized amount will do. Too much increases your risk of swallowing fluoride-filled toothpaste, which is not recommended.
  2. Gently Brush at a 45-Degree Angle. Set the bristles of your toothbrush at your gumline. Don’t brush across your teeth. Instead move the toothbrush in a short vertical or circular motion.
  3. Spend 3 Minutes Brushing Your Entire Mouth. Take a trip around your mouth, spending time on both the top and bottom teeth. Don’t forget your molars and inner surfaces of your teeth. Spend at least 3 minutes brushing.
  4. Gently Brush Your Tongue. Use the bristles of your toothbrush to clean your tongue.
  5. Rinse Your Mouth and Toothbrush. Swish water around your mouth to rinse away toothpaste. You should also rinse your toothbrush to remove bacteria.

Flossing Tips

Flossing is the most effective method for removing and preventing plaque from forming on hard-to-brush surfaces between your teeth. Daily flossing will not only keep your teeth and gums healthy, it will make your gum line noticeably cleaner.

Brush or Floss First?

There seems to be a lot of debate about whether you should brush or floss first. Which is right? Honestly, you can do either. The ADA specifies it doesn’t matter if you floss or brush first, so long as you do them both properly.

Even so, consider flossing first. Flossing before you brush allows the fluoride in your toothpaste to access tight spaces between your teeth.

What Type of Floss Is Best?

The type of floss you choose will depend on your flossing style. There are two main options to choose from:

  • Picks: Picks come in various shapes and sizes to fit your needs. Floss wands or picks allow you to easily adjust your flossing angle and are great when you’re out and about.
  • Loose Floss: Loose floss generally requires a bit more time and effort on your part. Still, loose floss is helpful in maneuvering between small spaces between each tooth.

How to Properly Floss Your Teeth

Here’s a simple 5 step guide for flossing correctly.

  1. If you’re using loose floss, wrap 12 to 16 inches of floss around your pointer fingers and hold in place with your thumbs.
  2. Slide the floss between your teeth using a sawing motion.
  3. Curve the floss into a C shape around each tooth and under the gumline.
  4. Move the floss up and down, cleaning each side of the tooth.
  5. Use a different section of floss each time you move to a new tooth.

Other Dental Home Care Tips

Beyond brushing and flossing, what other dental health considerations should you be aware of at home? Below are a few important things to think about.

Avoid Smoking

Smoking and chewing tobacco are terrible for your body– including your teeth and gums. These two habits contribute to a number of dental issues including:

  • Stained teeth
  • Lost sense of taste and smell
  • Receding gums
  • Gum disease
  • Oral cancer

Quitting is the only way to decrease your risk of these problems.

Avoid Too Much Sugar

Everyone knows too much sugar can hurt your overall well-being. It’s also extremely damaging to your dental health.

Harmful bacteria in your mouth feed on the sugars you eat. This bacteria creates acid that destroys your tooth enamel and creates cavities. Cavities progressing past the enamel and into the deeper layers of your tooth can lead to tooth loss.

Limit Acidic Foods

Like sugar, highly acidic foods are dangerous for your teeth. Acid weakens the enamel on your teeth and contributes to tooth sensitivity and discolored teeth.

Here are some common acidic foods you should be cautious of:

  • Citrus fruits like lemons, oranges, and grapefruit
  • Pickles and tomatoes
  • Alcohol
  • Coffee

Avoid brushing your teeth immediately after consuming something acidic. Doing so can further weaken your enamel. Instead, rinse your mouth with water and wait at least 30 minutes before brushing.

Talk to Your Dentist

Developing consistent and effective dental habits at home is key to maintaining great dental health.

If you need help creating a dental home care routine or have questions about maintaining good oral health, contact us. We are currently accepting new patients and would love to hear from you.