Everyone gets worried every six months when it’s time to book your hygiene appointment with your dentist. They can’t be avoided, and it’s hard to hide any bad or subpar cleaning habits when that bright light is shining into your open mouth. You may have yellow stains on the surface of the teeth, or a little bit of discoloring. You may even suspect that there are a few cavities lurking in those hard to reach areas.
It’s nerve-wracking when the exam begins, and you wait to see if your oral health has been intact for the last few months. You brush and floss regularly, but is that enough? Don’t we all wish we could be our dentists’ ideal patient, and make your appointment nothing more than a check-up and polish?
Achieving this high patient standard is easily attainable. It just takes commitment to and longevity. Even if you’re someone that has never had a cavity or any oral health issues, that can always change if you get too comfortable. There is a multitude of ways to ensure that your mouth is kept clean and healthy.
Never Brush Less than Twice a Day
It can always be hard to find time for small, seemingly unimportant tasks throughout the day. Between rushing to work in the early mornings and activities in the evenings, proper oral care can feel like one too many tasks piling up. Some people will brush once a day, find the time for mouthwash, or decide that mint gum will work for their busy schedule. However, any time you opt-out of brushing your teeth because you’re too comfortable in bed or are rushing out the door in the morning, you’re allowing bacteria to grow and mature in your mouth.
Brushing at least twice is the best way to prevent tooth decay and gum disease, along with other annoyances such as halitosis. As important as it is to brush twice per day, it’s especially important to brush your teeth before going to bed – make it an essential part of your routine, if you can!
This is because at night, your saliva production decreases. Saliva is essential for keeping bacteria at bay, along with washing away any food that may be remaining on or between the teeth at bedtime. With a lack of brushing and a lack of saliva to keep your mouth clean and cared for, you’re at a higher risk of developing bacteria.
As long as you’re brushing two times within a 24 hour period, you should have little to worry about. You don’t have to brush the moment before you retire for the day, but you should be brushing when the night begins to wind down, and it’s time for that relaxation period that comes before sleep.
Drink as much Water as You Can
Water is great for so many areas of your body and overall health and your teeth are not excluded from this! A glass of water with every meal not only promotes better digestion but should be consumed after every meal and snack to help clean the teeth before a toothbrush or floss is available.
Water helps to washout any food that may be trapped between the teeth or in the gums, and can help to wash away any sticky residue left behind from acidic foods and beverages. It’s not a substitute for brushing after meals, just a way to keep extra clean!
Floss as Much as You Brush
Many people neglect flossing, and assume a daily brushing routine is enough. If you take great care in brushing very regularly, great – if you only brush and don’t interact with floss until you’re in the dentist chair, this isn’t ideal for your long term oral health. Not all food can be removed from between the teeth with a toothbrush alone, and floss can be a valuable resource for doing so.
Floss not only keeps the mouth clean but stimulates the gums, can help to reduce plaque the way brushing can, and helps to lower inflammation in certain areas of the mouth. If you floss often, your dentist will take notice – especially when you aren’t bleeding the second they start in on your teeth!
Many people don’t take advantage of dental floss often enough because they can become easily frustrated with it, and decide it’s easier to double up on brushing instead. Flossing can pose a specific challenge for young children or older adults with mobility issues. Both of these age groups need proper dental care just like the rest of us, so it’s key to take your time with it.
Instead of becoming frustrated, irritated, or deciding you don’t have the time, look for alternatives to traditional dental floss that will be just as effective, and less stressful. There are certain tools for children, the elderly, and just everyday use that can help to greatly ease the process, and make sure everyone maintains an active interest in their oral health! Ready to use flossing sticks are just one example of an available tool that can help you in the long run!
Use Mouthwash in a Pinch
We’ve all been there; during an impromptu overnight at a friend’s house or on a trip, you open up your bag, look for what feels like forever, and realize you forgot your toothbrush. Not everyone stores extras, meaning you may be stuck for the night without brushing. As we mentioned earlier in the blog, this is not an ideal spot to be in.
Mouthwash can have its’ benefits if it’s one of the best things you have on hand. It normally shouldn’t be used on its own with no extra cleaning to accompany it, but in a pinch, it may save your mouth for the night.
First things first, mouthwash will take care of your breath. We know that at the end of the day it’s never the greatest, and in the morning, it will be infinitely worse. Mouthwash of many flavors can keep you feeling fresh, and won’t leave you with that taste in your mouth before bed, or in the morning – you know the one!
Aside from scent, mouthwash can aid your oral health in a variety of other ways. Mouthwash reduces the amount of acid in the mouth that can eat away at your enamel, rinse and help to clean areas that may have food or residue stuck in them overnight, and helps to balance and re-mineralize the mouth. It isn’t exactly a solution or substitute for a cleaning regime – more like a useful and temporary band-aid.
If You’re Going to Clean at All, You Should Do it Properly!
As important as it is to brush and floss frequently, it’s even more important to make sure your regime is being done properly in order to be 100% effective. Doing a quick once over of your teeth a few times a day is nearly equivalent to not brushing at all, and the longer you maintain this routine, the more habitual and automatic it will become.
Even if you’re rushed, it’s important to take your time and be thorough. Unfortunately, there’s no magic number for how long you should spend brushing. The amount of time you spend on your cleaning regime lies solely in how long it takes to get your teeth clean, and this number will be different for everyone.
For some, it’s one to two minutes of circular brushing, and others can spend anywhere from three to five minutes completing their routine. You’ll know the job is done when you’ve brushed everywhere, your mouth feels clean, and you’ve spent an adequate amount of time on the task.
Using the proper product is also a great start. Using a toothpaste, toothbrush, and dental floss that has been approved by the Canadian Dental Association, or CDA, in your routine is always the best course of action. Try to be wary of bargain brands; there’s nothing inherently wrong with them, but nothing will get the job done like the products recommended by dental professionals.
Electric toothbrushes are nice to have, but they aren’t a dealbreaker for good dental hygiene. A regular soft-bristle toothbrush from the store will do just fine. Having approved dental floss and recommended mouthwashes on hand will also help to round out your routine, and using all of them together will ensure your mouth is always fresh, and your dentist will be impressed!
Don’t Neglect Your Tongue
This is something that can very easily be forgotten! The thing is, your tongue is coated in bacteria. Your tongue is actually just as prone to bacteria as your teeth are, and both need to kept clean for optimal oral health.
Rinsing your mouth after brushing, or using your favorite mouthwash isn’t going to completely eradicate this bacteria.
This bacteria, if left, can be a leading cause of bad breath. If left for too long, it also has the potential to damage your teeth.
Cleaning your tongue is easy to do, and just adds one extra step into your regular routine! Simply use your toothbrush with a small amount of toothpaste and brush the surface of the area thoroughly, while being careful not to break the skin.
These tips will help you be dentist ready, and your hygiene appointments will be a breeze!