Good dental hygiene is the best way to maintain your oral health. It’s easy, low-cost, and can make a big difference to your overall health, too. It’s probably the best investment in your health that you can make. Good dental hygiene is a team effort, made up of your home hygiene and our professional cleanings.
The Goal of Dental Hygiene
Why do you need to keep your mouth clean? The reason is that there are bacteria in your mouth that feed off the food you eat. Some of these bacteria, especially the ones that feed off sugar, secrete acid that can damage your teeth, causing cavities, which then require fillings to treat.
Bacteria also infect the area around your teeth. This is called gum disease.
Dental hygiene removes bacteria from your teeth and gums to minimize the damage they do. If we limit the damage, your body’s natural mechanisms to repair and restore your teeth can balance them and stop you from developing cavities and gum disease.
Do Your Part
Your home hygiene routine is the most important part of your dental hygiene. You should brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, and floss every day.
Twice-daily brushing is recommended because it helps control plaque on your teeth. Plaque is a combination of bacteria, their protective slime, and food stuck to your teeth. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush angled 45 degrees from your teeth. Don’t push too hard, and use a circular motion. Brush for at least two minutes. Fluoride toothpaste helps your teeth build up their mineral “armor” against bacteria. Toothpaste usually has abrasives in it, too, which can help remove bacteria, but can also damage your teeth if you use it too often. If you brush more than twice a day, don’t use toothpaste every time you brush.
Flossing helps clean the area between your teeth, where the toothbrush can’t reach. Make sure you are wrapping the floss around the tooth and getting below the gumline. There are many different kinds of floss available–use whichever one works best for you. If you have trouble with flossing, consider using interdental cleaners or a water flosser.
You don’t have to use a mouthwash, and sometimes they can do more harm than good. Ask us before you add a mouthwash to your daily routine.
Your home hygiene routine will likely get most of the bacteria off your teeth. But what you don’t remove will absorb minerals from your saliva and turn hard like a rock. We call this tartar or dental calculus.
Tartar acts as a shelter for bacteria. They can hide there, protected from your toothbrush and saliva–your body’s natural antibacterial rinse. As tartar accumulates, oral bacteria can increase their population, leading to cavities and gum disease.
You can’t remove tartar at home, but we can safely take it off during your professional cleanings. One way you can judge how often you should make dental appointments is your level of tartar. If you have a lot of tartar that needs to be removed, you should come more often than every six months. If you don’t have too much, you can space your visits out longer.