Brushing: Brushing your teeth is one of the most important parts of your oral hygiene routine. Poor oral hygiene can lead to bacteria forming plaque in the mouth and leaving the teeth and gums vulnerable to oral and other diseases. Brush your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled brush. Be sure to replace your toothbrush every three or four months, or sooner if the bristles are frayed. A worn toothbrush won’t do a good job of cleaning your teeth.
The proper brushing technique is to:
- Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gums.
- Gently move the brush back and forth in short (tooth-wide) strokes.
- Brush the outer surfaces, the inner surfaces, and the chewing surfaces of the teeth.
- To clean the inside surfaces of the front teeth, tilt the brush vertically and make several up-and-down strokes.
- Make sure to use an ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste.
Flossing: According to a 2019 survey conducted by the ADA, only 4 out of 10 Americans floss at least once a day. Those who do not floss regularly are at a higher risk of developing periodontal (gum) disease. It only takes one week without flossing for gingivitis (early periodontal disease) to appear. A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report revealed that 47.2% of adults aged 30 years and older have some form of periodontal disease, and 70.1% of adults 65 years and older have periodontal disease. In severe cases (referred to as periodontitis) the gums can pull away from the teeth, bone can be lost, and teeth may even fall out.
Use this step-by-step guide to find out how to properly floss your teeth:
Break off about 18 inches of floss and wind most of it around one of your middle fingers. Wind the remaining floss around the same finger of the opposite hand. This finger will take up the floss as it becomes dirty.
Hold the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers.
Guide the floss between your teeth using a gentle rubbing motion. Never snap the floss into the gums.
When the floss reaches the gum line, curve it into a C shape against one tooth. Gently slide it into the space between the gum and the tooth.
Hold the floss tightly against the tooth. Gently rub the side of the tooth, moving the floss away from the gum with up and down motions. Repeat this method on the rest of your teeth. Don’t forget the back side of your last tooth.
Once you’re finished, throw the floss away. A used piece of floss won’t be as effective and could leave bacteria behind in your mouth.
If you find using floss awkward or difficult, ask your dental hygienist about the variety of dental floss holders or interdental cleaning devices that are available. Look for products that contain the ADA Seal of Acceptance so you know they have been evaluated for safety and effectiveness.
Brushing Children’s Teeth: Make sure your children brush their teeth twice a day and floss once a day in order to keep teeth and gums healthy. Always choose a child size soft bristle toothbrush. Replace the toothbrush every 3 months or sooner if the bristles are frayed. For children under the age of three, use no more than a smear or grain-of-rice-size amount of fluoride toothpaste. For children three to six, use no more than a pea size amount of fluoride toothpaste.
Parents should supervise and assist with brushing until their child can tie their own shoelaces.
Have 4 Minutes of Fun
Don’t just set a timer and supervise – make brushing twice a day for two minutes an event! Crank up your child’s favorite song and have a two-minute dance party. Videos or brushing apps may also make that time fly by. Younger brushers might like these. Try reading a 2-minute story using all your best voices.
Whatever you do, get creative and switch things up so brushing time is always a good time.
Start a Routine and Stick to It
You may be tempted to let your child skip brushing after a long day or during times when your normal schedule is off (like vacation) but keep at it. The more second nature brushing becomes the easier it will be to make sure your child is brushing twice a day for two minutes.
Reward Good Brushing Behavior
What motivates your child? If it’s stickers, make a reward chart and let him add one every time he brushes. If he’s a reader, let him pick out the bedtime story. Maybe it’s as simple as asking to see that healthy smile, saying “I’m so proud of you” and following up with a huge high five.
Make Brushing a Family Affair
Your children learn from you, so set a good example. The family that brushes together has even more reason to smile.
There are many reasons to cut down on sugar in your diet, and your dental health is no exception. A diet high in sugar and complex carbohydrates can lead to tooth decay and the need for restorative treatment by the dentist. Be sure to make the right choices and avoid sugary snacks. Instead, choose healthy vegetables, fresh fruits, or whole grain-based snacks. Eating the right foods can help protect you from tooth decay.
Also, drinking water in place of sugary soft drinks can have tremendous health benefits overall and can help maintain a healthy mouth as well. Rinsing with water after eating can help dislodge food particles that would otherwise remain until brushed off, potentially hours later.
Visiting the Pediatric Dentist: The American Academy of Pediatric Dentists recommends that a child visit the dentist within six months of their first tooth appearing, and not later than their first birthday. Getting your child in the habit of visit the dentist regularly for checkups, cleanings, and fluoride treatments will help them develop a lifetime of good oral health habits for when their permanent teeth come in. It’s also important to get them accustomed to the environment of a Pediatric Dental office- these days they are very friendly and a comfortable setting for all children. Our offices are specifically designed to be “kid-friendly”.
Nutrition: You’re mouth, teeth, and gums are more than just tools for eating. They’re essential for chewing and swallowing—the first steps in the digestion process. Your mouth is your body’s initial point of contact with the nutrients you consume.
Eating a variety of nutrient-rich foods from all the food groups promotes healthy teeth and gums. A balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, protein foods, calcium-rich foods and whole grains provides essential nutrients for optimum oral health as well as overall health.
Foods for Optimum Oral Health
- Calcium-rich foods,such as low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt and cheese, fortified soy drinks and tofu, canned salmon, almonds and dark green leafy vegetables help promote strong teeth and bones.
- Phosphorus, found in eggs, fish, lean meat, dairy, nuts and beans is good for strong teeth.
- Vitamin Cpromotes gum health, so eat plenty of citrus fruits, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, potatoes and spinach.
Smart snacking also can keep your mouth in good shape. Resist the urge to snack frequently — the more often you eat, especially between meals, the more likely you are to introduce acid attacks on your teeth. If you do snack, choose wisely. Forgo sugary treats such as hard or sticky candy and opt for nutritious choices such as raw vegetables, fruits, plain yogurt and popcorn. Remember to brush after snacking to keep cavities at bay. If you can’t brush, rinse your mouth with water to get rid of food particles.
In addition to healthful eating, oral health problems can be prevented by practicing good oral hygiene, such as brushing teeth with fluoridated toothpaste twice a day, flossing once a day, drinking fluoridated water and seeking regular oral health care.