Keeping your mouth happy and healthy is important for your overall well-being. Your smile depends on simple dental care habits, such as brushing and flossing. Make sure to follow the correct techniques and tips to ensure your mouth is as healthy as possible.
Oral health begins with clean teeth. Keeping the area where your teeth meet your gums clean can prevent gum disease, while keeping your tooth surfaces clean can help you stave off cavities.
Brush twice a day, and do not rush when you brush your teeth. Use a fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush that fits your mouth comfortably. Consider using an electric or battery-operated toothbrush, which can reduce plaque and a mild form of gum disease more than does manual brushing. These devices are also helpful if you have arthritis that make it difficult to brush effectively.
Hold your toothbrush at a slight angle — aiming the bristles toward the area where your tooth meets your gum. Gently brush with short back-and-forth motions. Remember to brush the outside, inside and chewing surfaces of your teeth, as well as your tongue.
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. Try to keep it separate from other toothbrushes in the same holder to prevent cross-contamination. Do not routinely cover toothbrushes or store them in closed containers, which can encourage the growth of bacteria, mold, and yeast. Also remember to replace the head of the electric or battery-operated toothbrush every three to four months, or sooner if the bristles become irregular or frayed.
You cannot reach the tight spaces between your teeth and under the gumline with a toothbrush. This is why flossing at least once a day is important.
Break off about 18 inches of dental floss. Wind most of the floss around the middle finger on one hand, and the rest around the middle finger on the other hand. Grip the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers. Guide the floss between your teeth using a rubbing motion. Do not snap the floss into your gums. When the floss reaches your gumline, curve it against one tooth. Slide the floss into the space between your gum and tooth. Use the floss to gently rub the side of the tooth in an up-and-down motion. Unwind fresh floss as you progress to the rest of your teeth. If you find it hard to handle floss, use a dental pick, pre-threaded flosser, tiny brushes that reach between teeth, or silicone plaque remover.
Remember to come in for regular dental examinations. This can help you to ensure your teeth are in the best condition possible.