Written on January 29, 2020 by Dr. S. Lata
Your smile and your overall health depend on simple dental care habits, such as brushing and flossing. But are you using the right techniques? Follow these steps to protect your oral health.
Oral health begins with clean teeth. Keeping the area where your teeth meet your gums clean can prevent gum disease, while keeping your tooth surfaces clean can help you stave off cavities and gum disease.
- Brush your teeth twice a day When you brush, don’t rush. Take about two minutes to do a thorough job. Don’t brush right after eating, especially if you had something acidic such as grapefruit or soda. Don’t forget to clean your tongue, which harbors bacteria, with a toothbrush or tongue scraper.
- Use the proper equipment Use a fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush that fits your mouth comfortably. Consider using an electric or battery-operated toothbrush, which can reduce plaque and a mild form of gum disease (gingivitis) more than does manual brushing. These devices are also helpful if you have arthritis or other problems that make it difficult to brush effectively.
- Practice good technique Hold your toothbrush at a slight angle — aiming the bristles toward the area where your tooth meets your gum. Gently brush with circular short back-and-forth motions. Brushing too hard or with hard bristles can hurt your gums. Brush your teeth for two minutes. Remember to brush the outside, inside and chewing surfaces of your teeth, as well as your tongue.
- Keep your equipment clean. Always rinse your toothbrush with water after brushing. Store your toothbrush in an upright position and allow it to air-dry until using it again. Try to keep it separate from other toothbrushes in the same holder to prevent cross-contamination. Don’t routinely cover toothbrushes or store them in closed containers, which can encourage the growth of bacteria, mold and yeast.
- Know when to replace your toothbrush. Invest in a new toothbrush or a replacement head for your electric or battery-operated toothbrush every three months — or sooner if the bristles flay or become irregular.