The first thing a person notices when being introduced for the first time is the other person’s smile. Not everyone can afford a mouth full of porcelain veneers, but with proper care, they can feel and look just as good. While tooth health is important, gum care is just as necessary. Unhealthy gums will bleed, appear red and shiny, and cause bad breath. Periodontal disease can affect the entire body, including the heart, making good oral hygiene an important routine in the day.
Flossing is part of dental care
Among the first questions a dental hygienist will ask as you sit in the chair will be possibly the most neglected of the oral health care regime, floss. Most people do not floss, and most who do aren’t flossing properly. People will generally jam the floss between the teeth and start sawing back and forth. Do not use this technique, as it cuts away at healthy gum tissue.
Instead, take the floss and gently slide it in between the teeth. Slide down one side of a tooth, and carefully pull away any debris that is found lying at the gingiva, or gums. Repeat on the other side of the next tooth. When finished, refrain from pulling the floss up in between the teeth. Try pulling the floss straight through instead. Don’t worry if you leave some plaque behind, brushing will take care of that.
Brush teeth correctly
Most people do not properly brush their teeth. Brushing back and forth can cause wear patterns to form on teeth, weakening them. The proper technique for brushing involves angling the toothbrush slightly, while moving it in small circular motions. Start brushing at the gum line, where plaque and bacteria form and cause the most damage. Try to visualize the mouth in four quadrants – upper right, upper left, lower left, lower right – which will aid in dedicating at least 30 seconds per quadrant to brushing, totaling the recommended two minutes of brushing.
Once in the habit of brushing teeth in this manner, it will become easy to spend time brushing all sides of each tooth. After the gumline has been brushed, focus on the occlusal, or chewing surface of the tooth. This is the area that does most of the daily work from chewing, and possible grinding and clenching. Finally, brush the lingual side, or the side of the tooth closest to the tongue, again, focusing on brushing in small circles towards the gum line. A good electric toothbrush, such as the Sonicare, is built with this brushing technique, giving the user the freedom to effortlessly brush.
Use a mouthwash after brushing
The final step to good oral health involves mouthwash. Use an antiseptic mouthwash, such as Listerine. It may have a slight sting when you first start using it, but this will disappear after a few weeks of use. This might also help prevent colds, since germs will be chased away. Use approximately a capful of mouthwash for 30 seconds, as directed. At first, it may be uncomfortable, so try breaking the time up in 15-second intervals. Since not many people keep a timer in the bathroom, try humming a song to yourself, like “Happy Birthday,” to pass 30 seconds.
After a month of following this regime, better breath, tighter gums, and overall good dental health will be noticeable. This little effort should help to save hundreds of dollars in dental expenses. Remember to have a cleaning and check-up every six months.