Dental hygiene is vital for maintaining healthy teeth and gums, but unfortunately, not many people adhere to the best oral hygiene practices. The result is a myriad of teeth problems that escalate if not appropriately addressed by a qualified dentist. Washington Dental is a full-service practice that is led by two highly experienced dentists, and we have offices in Lomita, Carson, and Downtown Los Angeles. In this article, we will discuss useful tips on how to keep teeth clean and healthy from an early age to adulthood.
- Brushing Twice Daily
There are over 500 varieties of bacteria living inside the mouth, and some are useful, while others are harmful. Bacteria produce acid, which helps in developing plaque, which causes gum disease when added to food debris and other components. Brushing your teeth at least twice per day is the gold standard of oral hygiene. The American Dental Association (ADA) endorses this practice as the best way of getting rid of plaque, which forms with every meal.
Bacteria in the mouth are continually feeding off plaque, and brushing disrupts these bacteria, so they don't colonize in your mouth. It is for this reason that we strongly recommend brushing after meals to prevent plaque from depositing on the teeth and eroding the enamel. Some people prioritize oral hygiene in the morning as they leave for work or school and neglect it during bedtime, perhaps due to exhaustion.
Cleaning teeth before bedtime is essential to remove dirt and plaque that accumulates throughout the day. This practice also prevents tooth decay and gum disease, especially for people who are prone to cavities and gum infections.
Please note, brushing your teeth sometime before bedtime is even better as it gives the fluoride in toothpaste more time to strengthen your teeth. Nonetheless, cleaning right after dinner erodes the enamel, which was already softened by acids during mealtime. Therefore, wait at least thirty minutes after dinner before brushing and don't eat snacks as they are laden with carbohydrates, and bacteria feed off carbs.
- Use Fluoride Toothpaste
Brushing twice per day to fulfill the mandate is not enough to get the job done. You must use a soft-bristled toothbrush and preferably use a fluoride-based toothpaste as recommended by a qualified dentist. Fluoride hails from fluorine, which is an element in soil. Apart from naturally occurring in the earth's crust, fluoride is present in freshwater systems, animals, and popular plants like spinach.
Tooth enamel absorbs fluoride, where it starts remineralization, a process of repairing teeth by replenishing calcium and phosphorous. Fluoride goes beyond whitening teeth and having a great flavor to keeping harmful bacteria at bay and giving a protective barrier for your teeth. Its antibacterial properties have made fluoride a primary ingredient in toothpaste and mouthwash dating back decades.
Regular toothpaste has a typical strength of around 1000 to 1500 parts per million (ppm) fluoride, and you can get higher concentrations if necessary. You can find more levels in pharmacies, but they are sold as prescription-only medicine to deter misuse.
The Cochrane Review found that toothpaste with higher levels of fluoride may offer better protection, but they also heighten the risk of fluorosis. However, people who choose to use toothpaste without fluoride are not doing justice to their oral health as they are still prone to getting cavities.
- Proper Brushing Technique
Knowing the right brushing and flossing technique is also necessary to avoid hurting your gums, as this would breed more problems. We recommend brushing for two to three minutes to ensure you give every tooth the attention it deserves. If your children are relatively new at oral hygiene, you need to supervise this task. Stubborn children may merely wet the toothbrush or brush the front teeth only.
Washington Dental teaches clients the proper brushing technique to make sure you are doing things right. Proper brushing technique involves the following steps:
- Place the toothbrush at a 45°angle parallel to the gum line then move it back and forth for each tooth.
- Repeat this back and forth motion as you brush the inside surface of each tooth.
- Clean the chewing surface of every tooth, including the back molars.
- Brush behind each tooth using the tip of your toothbrush. Try up and down, front and back, top and bottom strokes.
- Clean your tongue thoroughly to remove bacteria and keep off odor.
- Don't Forget to Floss
There are concerns that empirical research has not turned up persuasive evidence backing the benefits of flossing on oral health. Nevertheless, the American Dental Association says research outcomes don't discount the effectiveness of flossing, and so people should not neglect to floss regularly. This practice should go hand in hand with professional teeth cleaning, regular brushing at home, and the use of interdental brushes to remove plaque.
Flossing your teeth may not sound appealing, but this practice is just as crucial in keeping your teeth and gums healthy. Flossing helps to remove food particles stuck between your teeth in areas where your toothbrush cannot reach. If done frequently, flossing prevents plaque from building up in these hidden spaces, and it enhances the appearance of teeth.
Whether you prefer to use dental floss or interdental cleaners, speak to your dentist about the right technique, so you floss correctly. Unlike brushing, flossing just once per day should be sufficient in stopping plaque from forming between your teeth and below the gum line.
- Change Your Toothbrush Regularly
Many people neglect to change their toothbrushes every three to four months, and this habit is counterproductive to your goal of healthy teeth. Toothbrushes can harbor plenty of germs, fungus, and bacteria, and they can build up to significant levels if you continue using the same brush. More so, wear and tear lenders the brush ineffective in removing plaque, which is the very essence of brushing teeth.
If you recently battled a cold or other illness like a mouth infection, germs hiding in your toothbrush could cause reinfection. You need to change your toothbrush even if when it's relatively new, and the bristles are still intact. The same applies to when someone accidentally uses your toothbrush. Don't be tempted to rinse and continue using it as this exposes you to germs and bacteria from that person's mouth.
We advise clients to rinse out their brushes thoroughly after use and store them in an upright position, so they air out before the next use. Use a standard toothbrush holder with individual slots to avoid close contact, which would transmit the flu and cold viruses among toothbrushes. A toothbrush kit comes in handy when traveling as it protects the bristles from flattening, but you must air-dry your toothbrush before putting it back.
- Eat Healthy Foods
Complete oral care goes beyond brushing and flossing your teeth daily. The food we eat plays an integral role in keeping your teeth and gums healthy and strong enough to withstand the forces of chewing. Our experts at Washington Dental routinely encourage clients to add the following foods to their diet:
- Fruits and vegetables – these foods are high in fiber, which sort of washes the teeth during the chewing process. Apples, cucumbers, and celery are beloved for their texture and water content, and they naturally clean your teeth! The high water content found in juicy fruits and vegetables offsets their sugar levels, so it doesn't become problematic for your teeth.
- Water – you must keep your body hydrated at all times so you can have enough water in your saliva. Optimum levels of water can negate tooth decay and neutralize bacterial acid in the mouth. More so, water can wash down food debris and remove stains left by colored foods and drinks like coffee.
- Fish – fatty fish like salmon are laden with vitamin D, which promotes the absorption of calcium in our bodies. Calcium, in turn, keeps the teeth and gums healthy
- Dark chocolate – this sweet snack has Cocoa Bean Husk (CBH), which is known to strengthen teeth and inhibit the development of plaque. CBH makes teeth less prone to decay. We advise you to eat chocolate in moderation and brush your teeth after consumption.
- Oranges – citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruit are a great source of Vitamin C, which bolsters blood vessels and connective tissue. If you suffer from gum disease, consuming oranges can slow down the inflammation. Citrus fruits have high acidity, so wait for at least thirty minutes before brushing your teeth.
- Green tea – the Polyphenols found in green tea suppress and kill bacteria found in the mouth. Consider taking green or black tea during or after meals so these compounds can interact with bacteria.
- Cheese – this dairy product is an excellent addition to your diet as it helps to fight enamel erosion caused by acidity. Consuming cheese as a dessert counters the acidic effect left by bread, soda, and other acidic foods that we incorporate into our meals.
There are many other kinds of foods that you can add to your diet, but there are also foods that you must consume in limited quantities. Research deduces that overeating carbohydrates during the day make one increasingly susceptible to cavities. The bacteria in your mouth are activated each time you ingest such foods, and they start producing acid, which softens the enamel.
Constantly snacking or sipping sugary drinks throughout the day provides food for bacteria to thrive in your mouth. Limit acidic drinks like fruit juices, carbonated soft drinks, etc. as they produce acid that softens the enamel and dissolve minerals in your teeth. When this process happens over time, your teeth become susceptible to caries and small holes that eventually become cavities that are excruciating trigger pain.
In extreme cases, the damage extends beyond the gum line, leaving you with gaps and a bad bite. Starchy foods like pasta, crackers, potato chips, and so on linger in the mouth and start breaking down into simple sugars that feed bacteria. Colonies of bacteria produce acid, which then promotes tooth decay.
- See a Dentist Regularly
Visiting the dentist doesn't come naturally to many people, but these visits can save your teeth from severe problems like extreme tooth decay. Washington Dental recommends that you see a qualified dentist every six months for a thorough exam of your teeth and gums. The dentist will clean your teeth and remove plaque and hardened tartar that may have formed despite maintaining a proper oral regimen.
They will inspect your teeth for visible signs of a cavity, mouth cancer, gum ailments, and other oral issues that need professional attention. If need be, the dentist will perform X-rays to identify areas with cavities. Refusing to see a dentist is detrimental to your oral health as simple problems could escalate and become harder to solve. For instance, a small hole could expand so much that performing dental restorative procedures like fillings or crowns are not feasible.
- Oral Care for Babies
The above tips are ideal for growing children, teens, young adults, and seniors. Babies need proper oral hygiene so they can develop sharp milk teeth and maintain healthy gums. Start with wiping gums with warm water daily even before teeth start sprouting to remove sugars.
Do not allow your baby to take juices at night as they contain sugars that can trigger decay. They can seep water from sippy cups in between meals for hydration purposes and to promote better digestion. Train your children to brush their teeth with a soft baby toothbrush and monitor them to ensure they don't swallow toothpaste.
Parents should refrain from sharing utensils with children, including cleaning pacifiers with their mouths. Lastly, take your child to see a dentist every six months.
Find a Experienced Dentist Near Me
Taking care of your oral health is imperative for everyone right from an early age. You need to find a qualified dentist to help you maintain clean and healthy teeth, through routine checkups and therapeutic procedures. Washington Dental has fully-equipped offices to cater to clients' needs and help them realize the goal of healthy teeth and gums. We are more than happy to welcome you to the fold, so don't hesitate to book an appointment by calling our offices in Torrance, Lomita, Downtown Los Angeles, and Carson.