You probably think that you’ve heard it all when it comes to your oral health.
But did you know that oral hygiene plays a bigger role in your health than you give it credit for?
There’s a reason that doctors anddentists recommend dental check ups every six months.
Actually, there are three reasons:
- It’s cost effective
- You’ll get a prettier smile
- Better overall health
However, with something like 40% of the population foregoing frequent dentist visits, it’s no wonder that their oral health has gone down the drain.
The problem, it seems, stems from a fear that the dentist will catch onto our bad habits.
Things like forgetting to floss on a daily basis, only brushing once a day, and indulging in too many sugary treats are fodder for cavities and plaque buildup.
So, how do we—the patients—go about prepping for our visits and feel confident going into our appointments?
Take a look at these 5 things you should pay attention to in order to give yourself the best dentist appointment possible.
As mentioned above, many people forego the necessary two-three times daily and instead stick to the minimum. While brushing at least once a day is always a good idea, brushing too little increases your plaque buildup and allows cavities to form. It also increases your risk for gingivitis and halitosis (bad breath syndrome). In any case, if you want to keep your dentist from jumping down your throat—and only poking around in it (haha), then be sure to monitor your brushing habits. The more you brush, the more likely you are to see an improvement in your oral hygiene. Take care to brush the recommended amount, however, as brushing too much can wear down the enamel in your teeth, causing damage as well. Consider, if you will, the advice made popular by teen magazines back in the 90’s, which recommended brushing your teeth to the length of a popular pop song. This will help guarantee that your brushing is thorough and done long enough to make a real difference in your hygiene.
More than anything, flossing is perhaps the most overlooked part of our dental hygiene routines. Think of the number of times your dentist has called you out on not flossing enough. I’ll bet you argued with them, trying to say that you did in fact do the required flossing. You can’t fool a dentist, however, because they have a direct line into your teeth. Not flossing enough leaves you with swollen gums, built up plaque, and a whole-lotta cavities. It’s recommended that you floss nightly, ridding your mouth of daily food particles that might have been caught between your teeth, which can easily turn into cavities. Take some time immediately following your nightly brushing to quickly floss your teeth, taking care to reach the teeth in the back of your mouth in particular. Remember, it takes twenty-one days to turn something into a routine, which means it should become second nature after only three short weeks.
Rinse With Mouthwash
Mouthwash is usually seen as something that is suggested and not required. While this may be true, mouthwash should be seen as an extra form of protection against the common problems that can occur in your mouth. Because of mouthwash’s strength, it has the ability to kill as many as 99% of the germs that cause gingivitis after only thirty seconds of swishing. Be careful to only use mouthwash as recommended (once per day) and after you’ve brushed your teeth and shifted around germs that can cause plaque or decay. Using mouthwash regularly will help strengthen your teeth’s enamel, protecting those pearly-whites from decay.
Brush the Tongue
Like mouthwash, brushing your tongue isn’t something that your dentist will enforce, but rather something they will encourage. Brushing your tongue is something that should be done with great care, as reaching too far back may trigger your gag reflex, and/or cause you to hurt your uvula (that thing that hangs in the back of your throat). After you’ve brushed your teeth, give your tongue a gentle swipe to help keep it clean and free from bacteria. If you’re experiencing stubborn halitosis or frequently experience a bad taste in your mouth, then you might benefit from brushing your tongue. In any case, calm your nerves about your bad breath and make brushing your tongue a habit.
Watch Your Diet
It’s no surprise that things like candy and an increased sugar intake can cause cavities to form. But things like too-hard French fries, toffee, and chewing gum can have just a big a detriment on your teeth’s enamel. Be careful about what you’re putting into your mouth. Even scrounging at the bottom of a French fry container and coming up with a crispy fry can crack a tooth, while toffee and chewing gum can pull out crowns and loose fillings. Not to mention, chewing sugary gum constantly leaves your teeth with a layer of sugar to fight off lest it form a cavity. Be mindful about the foods that you’re eating and you’ll see a healthier mouth, teeth, and smile in no time at all.