We all know we should brush our teeth, but what other habits are important to our oral health? Our team has come up with 5 critical oral hygiene habits to keep your smile healthy.
Brush Your Teeth… Properly
Yes, you probably know that you should brush your teeth, but do you know how to brush your teeth properly? For many of us, teeth brushing is so ingrained in our daily routine that we might not pay as much attention as we should.
First of all, make sure you’re brushing your teeth twice a day for two full minutes. Don’t go to bed before brushing your teeth and don’t snack between teeth brushing and bedtime.
When you’re brushing, make sure to get the front, back, and sides of every tooth. Don’t brush too hard and don’t use aggressive sawing motions. Instead, brush your teeth using small, circular motions with a light hand. Finally, make sure you’re brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste.
Replace Your Toothbrush Regularly
An old toothbrush probably isn’t brushing your teeth effectively, even if you’re following the guidelines above. You should be replacing your toothbrush every 3 months, or sooner if you notice the bristles are frayed or irregular. This can happen sooner if you brush too hard or if you have braces.
Electric toothbrush heads also need to be replaced every 3 months. Once you’ve replaced your brush head or toothbrush, make sure you store it uncovered so the bristles can dry completely between each use.
Make Sure You’re Flossing
Like your dentist always says when you come for a check-up, flossing is an important part of your oral hygiene habits. Treat it the same way you (hopefully) treat brushing your teeth and make it a part of your evening routine.
Water picks and ready-to-use flossers work just as well if you’re struggling to add flossing to your routine. Flossing is important because it removes the plaque and bacteria from in between your teeth that your toothbrush misses. Regular flossing can help alleviate bad breath and prevent gum disease.
When you’re flossing, make sure you’re using at least 46 centimetres (or 18 inches) of floss. Take your time and floss between each tooth individually in a C-shaped motion, using a new section of floss for each space.
Eat Less Sugar, More Fruits & Vegetables
We all know that it’s important to eat our fruits and vegetables, but did you know that a healthy diet is good for your teeth? Too many sugary foods can contribute to tooth decay while fruits and vegetables can actually help clean your teeth.
Hard fruits and veggies like apples, oranges, carrots, and celery remove plaque from your teeth while you eat them. Chewing fibrous fruits and vegetables also stimulates your gums which helps increase salivation. Increased salivation means there is more saliva to reduce acidity and wash away food particles that can lead to decay.
Sugary and starchy foods, on the other hand, contribute to tooth decay. When sugars linger in the mouth, they break down and produce acid, which causes cavities. If you need to have a sweet treat, try eating them as part of a larger healthy meal, as this will help to dilute the sugar. It’s also best to try and avoid sticky sweets because they can stick to your teeth.
Drink Enough Water
The exact amount of water you need every day varies depending on the person, but a general recommendation is 6 to 8 glasses per day. Drinking water rinses your mouth between meals, which helps to reduce decay-causing acid. Drinking water also helps to prevent acid build-up if you have a sugary snack or drink.
Sugary drinks, like soda and juice, can have similar effects on our teeth as sugary foods. They can contribute to a higher risk of tooth decay. Diet sodas aren’t much better, either, as even sugar-free versions can damage your teeth with the acid they contain.
Visit the Dentist Every 6 Months
We couldn’t make this list without mentioning regular dental check-ups. You should be visiting your dentist every 6 months for an exam and cleaning. In addition to giving your teeth a thorough cleaning, a check-up is an opportunity for us to prevent and detect oral health issues before they get worse.
48% of Canadians who haven’t seen a dentist in the past year have some form of gum disease. If it’s been over 6 months since your last visit, book your dental exam and cleaning today. It’s one of the best ways to ensure your oral health.