As dental offices are now closed for regular dental hygiene maintenance and routine procedures, it is more important than ever to maintain a healthy mouth with daily oral self-care practices. Below is some information to help you to achieve that!
How often to brush your teeth
Brushing your teeth twice a day for a minimum of 2 minutes is the best way to remove plaque buildup from the front, back and biting surfaces of your teeth. When plaque, which is made up of millions of little bacteria, sits on the gums for an extended period of time, it will result in gum inflammation, aka gingivitis.
How to Prevent Gingivitis
Gingivitis will cause your gums to appear red along the gumline, with some swelling and possible tenderness. How else would you know if you have gingivitis? Bleeding gums while cleaning your teeth is the main indicator for gingivitis and the easiest way for you to know if you have it or not. If you gums bleed while brushing, your home care routine needs to be bumped up a notch, with more frequent brushing, brushing longer or even focusing the brush along the gumline to make sure the plaque is being removed from those areas. Our hygienists, Sara and Brooke, also recommend using an electric toothbrush, if you’re not already. Studies have shown that using an electric toothbrush can significantly reduce the amount of plaque on your teeth when compared to a manual toothbrush, therefore reducing the likelihood of even getting gingivitis in the first place. With that being said, if your gums are currently bleeding, don’t worry! Gingivitis is a reversible condition, and with diligent home care, you’re able to get your gums back on track and healthy again in no time.
How to floss
Another way to improve on your oral self-care is by flossing! You know, that thing the hygienists anyways tell you to do! Flossing removes the plaque buildup from in between your teeth, a place the toothbrush can’t reach. That’s right, by only brushing and not flossing on a daily basis, you are only cleaning 60% of your teeth! Yuck! Flossing once a day not only improves the gums and prevents gingivitis, it can also reduce the likelihood of you getting cavities. Interproximal cavities, or cavities in between your teeth, are the most common areas Dr. Kutzko finds decay. Picking up this habit not only benefits your gums, it also decreases the chance of needing fillings in the future.
There are a few different flossing aids to help you in this. First, you have traditional string floss, which is the most ideal aid to use. With string floss, you’re able to place the floss in between the teeth contacts, moving it up and down like a see-saw a few times to help detach the plaque that’s accumulated there. The advantage with string floss is that you’re able to create a “C” shape around each tooth and really hug the tooth sides, while moving it up and down, this causes more of that plaque buildup to come off.
If you don’t like using string floss, another alternative is floss picks. These are little plastic devices that have floss attached to them, making it easier to reach those back molars without feeling like you’re sticking your hands all the way down your throat! You’re able to create the same effect as string floss, but it becomes more challenging to wrap the floss pick around the tooth surface to recreate the “C” shape technique. This makes floss picks the second option when string flossing is not achievable.
If neither of these options work for you, using toothpicks or soft picks may be best for you. Picks will help remove plaque or food debris from in between your teeth, but what it doesn’t do is remove anything that may be stuck in between the teeth contacts (those little areas that are prone to decay). But using a dental toothpick is better than using nothing at all!
How to use mouthwash
One more way to boost your home care is by adding mouthwash to your daily routine. Mouthwash helps kill that bad bacteria in your mouth, which helps reduce the chances of gingivitis and also helps fight bad breath. Adding mouthwash to your brushing and flossing will create an optimal oral self-care routine at home.
Hope to see you all soon! In the meantime, please use these tips to improve your dental hygiene, as you now have plenty of time of your hands to start these healthy habits.
Sara Gordon Brooke Huston