Basic Dental Hygiene: A Guide

Older Woman Keeps Her Smile Beautiful with Regular BrushingCulturally, we associate toothlessness with old age and a huge swath of the American population still believes that tooth loss is an inevitable part of growing older. That couldn’t be further from the truth and today’s dentists are working hard to let their patients know that with a little care and the right lifestyle, there’s no reason why a person can’t keep their natural teeth throughout their lifetime. The key is practicing good dental hygiene habits every day and maintaining a lifestyle that supports good oral health.

Flossing

According to the American Dental Association, only about 50% of Americans floss their teeth every day. That’s too bad, because flossing is an essential part of maintaining a healthy mouth. Whether you use traditional dental floss, handheld disposable flossers, or a high-tech sonic water flosser, flossing helps remove particles of food and bacterial plaque from between teeth (a hotbed of oral bacteria and one of the most common areas to develop a cavity).

Brushing

Taking the time to brush your teeth twice a day is important, but how you brush can be just as vital. The American Dental Association recommends brushing at least two times per day for two minutes at a time. You should use a soft-bristled brush (hard bristles can actually damage the teeth and gums) and an ADA-approved toothpaste to remove food and drink particles, dead cells, and bacteria.

To Rinse or Not to Rinse

This depends a lot on personal preference and your dentist’s recommendation. Rinsing can be a great way to deliver fluoride to strengthen teeth and prescription mouth rinses are a commonplace way to treat gum disease at home. However, many mouthwashes contain alcohol which can dry out the mouth, leading to additional oral health problems. Talk to your dentist about whether you need mouth rinse, and which type is best for your oral health.