How to Maintain Proper Oral Hygiene

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How to Maintain Proper Oral Hygiene

April 14, 2013

Keeping up with dental hygiene is important to maintain a healthy mouth. In order to keep your teeth healthy and clean, you must follow a specific routine at least once a day. Brushing and flossing every day can prevent gum disease, tooth decay, and remove any bacteria left on your teeth after eating. Although it seems like such an easy task, there are many different variables. Proper brushing takes at least two minutes and should be done after every meal. If you only brush your teeth once a day, be sure you do so before going to bed to prevent plaque build-up and growing bacteria overnight. Plaque is the main cause of gum disease and is an invisible bacterial film that develops on your teeth every day (“Canadian Dental Association”, 2013, para. 2). Although healthy teeth allow you to look and feel good, they also make it possible for you to eat and speak properly. Flossing your teeth at least once a day is also important when it comes to maintaining oral hygiene. Flossing will decrease the chance of the plaque hardening on your teeth. There is both waxed and unwaxed floss. Waxed floss is recommended especially if you have trouble slipping the floss between your teeth. The first step to flossing is taking a long enough piece that can be wrapped around your middle fingers several times and leaving about 2 inches in between your hands. Next, slide the floss between your teeth so it forms the shape of a “C”. Use your index finger to wipe each side of the tooth up and down 2 to 3 times. Do this from your gums to the baseline of the tooth and pull the floss against your teeth as you are doing so. Be sure to do this for every tooth and use a new section of the floss as it wears down or picks up food particles. Don’t forget to floss your back molars because people usually forget to which adds a higher risk to gum disease and tooth decay. For people finding it difficult to floss with the traditional floss, there are “Y” shaped devices that hold the floss in place to make it easier. Your teeth may bleed when you first begin to floss; however, the bleeding usually stops after a few days of flossing. If you notice the bleeding has not stopped after a few days, talk to your dentist. Following the steps of flossing, brushing your teeth will help further clean your teeth. Brushing after flossing is a more effective method of preventing tooth decay and gum disease (“Canadian Dental Association”, 2013, para. 7). The best times to brush your teeth are once in the morning and once before bed. In order to brush your teeth, you will need a toothbrush. There are many different types of toothbrushes; some may also come with scrapers for your tongue and cheeks. A toothbrush that reaches all the way to your back teeth would work best. Your toothbrush should be replaced every 3 months or after the bristles wear down. If you are ever unsure about what type of toothbrush you should use, you could always talk to your dentist. The first step in brushing your teeth is placing a small amount of toothpaste on your toothbrush. Toothpaste that contains fluoride helps to build tooth enamel however toothpaste without fluoride is also fine. Children only need a pea sized amount of toothpaste for brushing. Start brushing where your gums meet your teeth. At a 45 degree angle, brush in a circular motion, moving up and down. When brushing, brush at the gum line because that is where there is the greatest amount of plaque build-up. Be sure to brush hard enough to get rid of the plaque, but not hard enough where your gums recede or bleed. Gums that recede visibly are often a result of years of brushing too hard (Kittredge, 2013, para. 12). Next, make sure to clean every surface of each tooth, starting with the outer surfaces of your upper and lower teeth, then the inner surfaces of your upper and lower teeth, and lastly the chewing surface of each tooth. Changing or reversing your brushing pattern can also...
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