If you would like to be able to smile with confidence, eat what you like and avoid painful and costly dental procedures well into your twilight years, then the importance of good oral hygiene cannot be exaggerated.
All too often we neglect our oral health by forgetting to follow a consistent dental hygiene routine at home and by putting off dentist check-ups. For this reason around two-thirds of adults in the United States develop gum disease and many more suffer from cavities or other dental problems.
You do not have to become a statistic. It is possible to protect your gum line and teeth from infection and cavities. All it takes is a little commitment to looking after your oral health and you can enjoy a dazzling smile and a healthy mouth all your adult life.
What constitutes good oral hygiene?
There are a few key steps that you need to follow in order to maintain good oral hygiene and health:
Brushing – you need to brush your teeth at least twice each day to reduce the plaque buildup and bacteria that grow on your teeth and gums. It is even more effective if you can manage to brush your teeth after every meal.
The reason that brushing is an essential step is that after you eat bacteria flourish in your mouth. These bacteria release toxins, which react with your saliva and produce plaque. Plaque is a yellowy, sticky substance that clings to your teeth and gums and leads to infection.
How to do it: In order to remove the maximum amount of bacteria and plaque from your mouth with each brushing, most dentists say that one ought to use an electric toothbrush (Oral-B for example) with swirling heads. If you are going to use a manual toothbrush, then it should have soft bristles as hard bristles can do harm to your gum tissue.
Place your bristles at a 45 degree angle from your teeth and brush away from the gums. Each brushing session should take about two minutes to complete. You start on the outside teeth, then move to the insides of the teeth and then brush on top of the teeth.
Flossing – Flossing is a very important part of your home dental hygiene routine. It is essential because little food particles often become lodged between your teeth. When these food particles are not removed, they release toxins that can cause the infection that leads to gum disease.
Some of the food particles are removed when you brush your teeth, but flossing can remove those that are in hard to reach places.
How to do it: Many people decide not to floss regularly because they find that it makes their gums bleed. If this is the case, then you are probably using the wrong technique.
First you need to choose an appropriate product. If you have sensitive gums, then it is a good idea to use a dental tape rather than traditional floss. Dental tape is a little wider than floss and is gentler on the gum tissue.
Take a 30 centimetre piece of the dental floss or tape and wrap one end around one of your index fingers and the other end around your other index finger about seven centimetres apart.
Start at the back of the bottom row of teeth. Slide the floss between the two teeth and gently guide it up and down against the tooth. Often people saw the floss back and forth across the gum tissue, which is certain to cause bleeding and discomfort. Using the correct technique and the correct product, you are unlikely to experience any problems with flossing.
Mouthwash – Using a mouthwash is the third stage of a good home dental hygiene routine. By using a mouthwash, you can flush away the remaining bacteria and plaque inside the mouth after brushing and flossing.
Not all mouthwashes are created equal however. You should look for a mouthwash that does not contain alcohol as this can damage gum tissue and cause dryness of the mouth, which can actually encourage bacterial growth.
These days there are also commercially available natural mouthwash products. These can be very effective and yet, make use of natural ingredients that will not cause the damage that some chemically-laden products can. Look for products that contain all-natural herbal ingredients.
Various herbal ingredients such as spearmint, peppermint, and almond oil may be effective in warding off disease and keeping your mouth fresh.
Dental Hygiene Habits
In addition to following and effective oral hygiene routine at home, there are a few things to do in order to ensure the health of your gums and teeth:
- Dental check-ups – visit your dentist every six months for a thorough clean that will remove plaque in hard to reach places and tartar.
- Look after your diet – bacteria love sugar so be sure to reduce the amount of sugary foods that you consume. You can also protect your teeth and gums by minimising the amount of processed food that you consume and maximising the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables that you consume.
- Stay hydrated – make sure that you are drinking at least eight glasses of water a day in order to stay hydrated as well as to flush away bacteria that can settle in your gums and on your teeth throughout the day.
- Reduce stress – stress is a major cause of illness. It can affect every aspect of your health from that of your teeth and gums to your digestion, immunity to viruses and mental health. Your entire well-being will be affected positively if you can learn to control stress effectively.
By consulting with your dentist and understanding the importance of following good oral hygiene tips, you will be able to avoid a lot of dental decay as you age. This directly translates into positive outcomes for your enjoyment of life as you get older. You can take action today by implementing a natural chemical-free solution.