Good oral hygiene practices reflect themselves in a mouth that looks and smells healthier. This means that:
* The teeth are free of any unwanted debris
* The gums are pink and don’t bleed or hurt when you floss or brush
* Bad breath is no longer a problem
Your hygienist or dentist can point out the right practices and point out the areas of your mouth that could do with a higher standard of care. Before you schedule a routine appointment with your dentist, here are a few steps you can take to decrease the risk of gum disease, tooth decay and cavities:
* Brush your teeth twice every day – Tilt your toothbrush at a 45 degree angle against the gum line and roll or sweep the brush away from the gums. Gently brush the inner, outer and the chewing surface of your teeth using back and forth strokes.
* Use the right equipment – Make sure you use a fluoride toothpaste along with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Alternatively, you can go for a battery operated or electric toothbrush, which works better at combating plaque and gingivitis compared to manual brushing. These automatic devices also help if you have joint pain due to arthritis that makes it difficult for you to brush properly.
* Keep the equipment clean – Rinse the toothbrush thoroughly after brushing. Store it in an upright position and let it air dry before you use it again. Make sure that it does not get into contact with the other toothbrushes in the holder if you want to avoid the risk of cross contamination. So not cover your toothbrush or store it in a closed container. This can encourage bacterial or fungal growth.
* Replace the equipment regularly – Invest in a new brush or a replacement head for the battery-operated or electric toothbrush once every three months – or sooner if the bristles become frayed or irregular.
* Floss daily – It is difficult to reach under your gum line or the tight spaces between teeth. That is why it is important to floss daily. Break off 18 inches of floss and leave a couple of inches to work with. Gently follow the curves of the teeth and make sure you clean beneath your gum line.
As long as you do it thoroughly, it does not matter whether you floss or brush first. Consider using a fluoride mouthwash to promote oral health. Also, resist using toothpicks and other objects that can injure the gums and let bacteria in.