Oral Hygiene Routine: What You Should Do for Optimum Dental Health

Photo by Sora Shimazaki on Floss Daily

So, you’ve probably heard the age-old debate as to which step should be first when in comes to oral hygiene at home routines. Which do you think should go first? Should one floss first or brush their teeth first? I personally don’t have a preference or a definite answer. However, I have noticed that I clean between my teeth then I brush my teeth. Honestly, the order of these two actions don’t matter as long as both get done. That’s my stance and I’m sticking to you.

Because I know the big role teeth play in confidence and appearance, I’m going to provide some basic tips to help you build an oral hygiene routine that will assist you with gaining and maintaining optimum dental health.

Brushing Your Teeth

  • Brush your teeth at least two times a day for two minutes each time. I often tell my patients to brush in the morning to keep your friends and brush at night before bed to keep your teeth.
  • Always use a soft bristle toothbrush. Most people believe that the harder the bristle the cleaner your teeth will be. The cleanliness of your teeth is dependent more on one’s technique as opposed to how hard the bristles on the toothbrush are.
  • Angle your brush at a 45-degree angle to ensure that you brush your gumline.  You would be surprised at how much plaque builds up at your gumline. I tell my patients to brush at an angle while brushing in soft circular motion. I say that it will feel like they are brushing their gums and teeth.
  • You should change your brush every three months and after being sick. Companies are making it easy to remember to change your brush every three months by having subscription programs that mail a new toothbrush every three months. My favorite is BURST oral care.
  • Oh yeah! Make sure you’re using a toothpaste that contains fluoride.

Cleaning Between Your Teeth

I’m not going to stress flossing because dental floss is not the best interdental cleaning method for everyone.  Whether your preference is string floss, proxy brushes, water flosser, or dental picks, I 100% believe this is the most important step of the oral hygiene routine. You must clean between your teeth daily because the toothbrush can NOT clean in between the teeth. I don’t care what the marketing on the package says.

  • Clean between your teeth at least one time a day. I tell my patients to aim for two times daily. A little extra cleaning doesn’t hurt.
  • When using the string floss or floss picks, make sure to curve the floss against your tooth making the floss snug against the side of your tooth. Yes, you must get the floss under your gums.
  • No matter what method works best for you, you must clean behind the last tooth in your mouth. Yes, food and plaque buildup behind those last teeth.
  •  If using a proxy or interdental brush, make sure to choose the correct size. Having the correct size brush allows for proper cleaning and reduces damage to the gum tissue between your teeth.
  • You must clean between every tooth every time.

Cleaning Your Tongue

Please don’t miss this step. You can use your toothbrush or a tongue scraper to complete this step.

  • Start at the back of your tongue and move the toothbrush or tongue scraper forward.
  • Clean as much of your tongue as you can with gagging.
  • Rinse your mouth.

Rinsing with Mouthwash

If you’re rinsing your mouth after brushing, I suggest you complete that step with a fluoridated mouthwash. Topical fluoride is like a vitamin. It helps strengthen your teeth, prevent cavities, and reduce sensitivity.

  • Rinse after brushing and flossing your teeth.
  • Rinse for about 30-60 seconds. Based on the directions on the bottle.
  • Do NOT swallow
  • Don’t eat or drink for at least 30 minutes after rinsing your mouth with the mouthwash.

Additional Oral Hygiene Routine Tips

  • Visit your dental healthcare provider for regular hygiene visits and checkups.
  • Examine your mouth during your oral hygiene routine to detect any abnormal lumps, bumps, and discoloration.
  • Maintain a nutritious and healthy diet.

Key Signs to Tell If You Have Good Oral Health

You won’t truly know how healthy your teeth and mouth are until you’ve been examined by a dental healthcare provider. Here are a few signs that will give you some idea that you’re moving in the right direction to having optimum oral health.

  • Your gums are firm and tight against your teeth.
  • Your gums and teeth do not get sore or bleed when you brush and clean between your teeth.
  • Your teeth do not have the fuzzy feeling when you rub your tongue against them.
  • You don’t experience bad breath often. Well, unless you’re eating loads of onion and garlic.

The best oral hygiene routine can be developed when you know exactly what your oral health needs are.  At every visit with your dental healthcare provider, ask if there are any specific areas you need to work on when completing your oral hygiene routine. I suggest you inquire about any bleeding during treatment, swollen gums, or food stuck between your teeth. Not only will this help keep you motivated, but this will also show your dental healthcare provider that you appreciate the work they do and that you are working to keep a healthy, bright smile. I know I’m always inspired when my patients put forth a concerted to save their smiles.

As usual, this does not replace the recommendations of YOUR dental healthcare provider. This should be use for informational purposes only!

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