So you’re once again staring at your bathroom mirror, half-asleep, getting ready to brush your teeth. You’re trying to remember what steps to take to make sure your teeth are clean and healthy for the day. You know that your teeth can have a big effect on your appearance and your confidence—so get off to the right start with a healthy oral health routine.
We at Lomita Torrance Dental Office want to help you keep your healthy oral hygiene routine! Below are some tips on what your oral hygiene routine should look like, so your teeth can remain beautiful and healthy.
Brushing Your Teeth
Many dentists agree that proper brushing takes at least two minutes. Dr. Daniel Teboul, a dentist for over twenty years in Torrance, goes one step further and typically has his patients brush for three minutes — one and a half minutes on both the upper teeth and the bottom teeth. Most people don’t even come close to brushing for two minutes, let alone three. Three minutes can seem like a long time – especially for little ones. Dr. Daniel Teboul recommends using a timer to make it a bit more fun. There are also electronic toothbrushes that have self-timers to help you get back on track.
Though it is important to pay attention to how long you’re brushing, it’s even more important to make sure all surfaces are clean. Remember to brush using short strokes, moving back and forth against the teeth and gums, around the surface of every tooth. Use the tip of the brush to reach behind each front tooth on the top and bottom. If you don’t brush your teeth long enough, you may not be getting your teeth clean enough. If you leave behind bacteria on the teeth after brushing, it can lead to serious problems such as gingivitis or periodontitis.
In addition, don’t forget flossing – it’s just as important as brushing.
Flossing Your Teeth
The most important thing about cleaning between your teeth is to do it. As long as you do a thorough job, it doesn’t matter when. Pick a time of day when you can devote an extra couple of minutes to your dental care. People who are too tired at the end of the day may benefit from cleaning between their teeth first thing in the morning or after lunch. Others might like to go to bed with a clean mouth.
Keep in mind that cleaning between your teeth should not be painful. If you do it too hard, you could damage the tissue between your teeth. If you’re too gentle, you might not be getting the food out. It’s normal to feel some discomfort when you first start, but don’t give up. With daily brushing and cleaning between your teeth, that discomfort should ease within a week or two.
We know we should floss at least once a day, but not everyone knows the right way to do it. Use this step-by-step guide to find out how to properly floss your teeth:
- Break off about 18 inches of floss and wind most of it around one of your middle fingers. Wind the remaining floss around the same finger of the opposite hand. This finger will take up the floss as it becomes dirty.
- Hold the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers.
- Guide the floss between your teeth using a gentle rubbing motion. Never snap the floss into the gums.
- When the floss reaches the gum line, curve it into a C shape against one tooth. Gently slide it into the space between the gum and the tooth.
- Hold the floss tightly against the tooth. Gently rub the side of the tooth, moving the floss away from the gum with up and down motions. Repeat this method on the rest of your teeth. Don’t forget the back side of your last tooth.
Once you’re finished, throw the floss away. A used piece of floss won’t be as effective and could leave bacteria behind in your mouth.
Rinse Your Mouth With A Mouthwash
Many dentists believe that twice-daily brushing with a fluoride toothpaste provides enough fluoride for cavity protection. But if you’re prone to cavities, you can use a fluoride mouth rinse in addition to brushing and flossing your teeth.
Some studies have shown that mouth rinses with fluoride can supplement daily brushing with fluoride toothpastes, especially in areas where drinking water is not supplemented with fluoride. These rinses are effective in strengthening the enamel of your teeth and protecting your teeth from acid damage;
Steps to Follow When Using Fluoride Rinse
- Use The Right Amount – Use the amount of rinse indicated on the label or as directed by your dentist.
- Swish Like You Mean It – Keep your mouth closed and swish the rinse vigorously as directed on the label.
- Spit – Don’t swallow mouth rinse. The fluoride in most fluoride rinses can be toxic if you swallow large enough amounts. If you allow your child to use mouthwash, supervise to be sure that he or she spits it out and doesn’t swallow it
- Wait – To get the most benefit from a fluoride mouthwash, avoid eating, drinking, or smoking for at least 30 minutes so you don’t wash away the fluoride
Cleaning Your Tongue
When paired with a complete oral health routine including brushing, flossing, and rinsing, tongue cleaning can help prevent periodontal disease and other systemic diseases by removing harmful bacteria and microorganisms from your mouth and preventing them from invading your system. Not to mention leaving you with a clean mouth, fresh breath, and bright smile.
Use a Tongue Cleaner — You can use a toothbrush to clean your tongue during your everyday tooth brushing session, however, a toothbrush will not be as effective at cleaning off the bacteria and layer of plaque that harbors microorganisms as a tongue cleaner. A dedicated tongue cleaner that is designed to scrape the build up off your tongue will be much more effective at getting rid of the build up. Additionally, using a dedicated tongue cleaner is much more hygienic as it will prevent trapping additional bacteria in the bristles of your toothbrush.
Clean Your Tongue Daily — Cleaning your tongue daily should be a natural part of your everyday oral health care routine, along with brushing, flossing, and rinsing. Additionally, if you consume any particularly pigmented or pungent foods, you should clean your tongue after eating in order to prevent bad breath. If you eat garlic or onion, for example, cleaning your tongue right after will greatly reduce the odor stemming from having eaten those foods. If you eat chocolate or drink wine, there will inevitably be a color coating on your tongue, which can easily be removed using a tongue scraper.
Pick a Tongue Scraper That Works For You — There are many tongue cleaners on the market today, all designed to accomplish the task of scraping the layer of plaque and bacteria accumulated on the surface of the tongue throughout daily consumption of food. There are scrapers which are metal or plastic, ones with bristles on the ends and ones without. It may take some trial and error to find one that works for you, but the good news is that they are relatively inexpensive, but an incredibly good investment when it comes to long-term oral health. If your tongue has deep crevices, a scraper with bristles might be best, or if you feel your tongue is a bit sensitive, then a basic plastic one might work for you. You can start with one that you find at your local drugstore or Amazon, and see if it works for you and go from there.
Take Your Time — If you haven’t used a tongue cleaner in the past, it might be a bit of an adjustment to get used to it. Some people have a gag reflex which may prevent them from scraping properly. To help with that, it might be easier to start by stretching the tongue out fully, holding it stiff and scraping from back to front. After a while, the tongue should get used to the motion of the scraper and it will be easier to clean. Take it slow, and experiment with different speeds of motion and different styles of scrapers to figure out what works for you.
Focus On The Center/Back of the Tongue — The tip of your tongue is generally self-cleaning due to the constant friction of it with the upper palate when speaking. It is on the back of the tongue where most of the debris accumulates and bacteria harbors. When cleaning, you don’t have to reach all the way to the very back but focus on the smooth central part of the tongue. When you stick out your tongue, it will be fairly easy to see the accumulated coating of debris and plaque, and you will see immediate clearing of it once you scrape the surface of the tongue. You will need a few rounds of scraping to ensure the coating is removed, but once it is, you will be left with a cleaner mouth and fresher breath.
Additional Oral Hygiene Tips:
- Visit your dentist regularly for check-ups and cleanings
- Examine your mouth during your oral hygiene routine to make sure there are no abnormalities
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet
How Do You Know if You Have Good Oral Health?
Although you’ll never truly know if you have good oral health until you see your dentist for a check-up, here are some factors that may indicate that you have good oral health:
- Your gums are pink and do not get sore or bleed when you brush or floss your teeth
- Your teeth feel clean and not “fuzzy”
- You don’t constantly have bad breath
One key factor to having a good oral hygiene routine is understanding what your oral needs are. During your next check-up or cleaning appointment, ask your dentist if there is anything you should pay extra attention to during your oral hygiene routine.
Schedule An Appointment With Lomita Torrance Dental Office, Torrance
We value your trust in us as part of your family’s total healthcare team and look forward to getting to know each of you as the wonderfully unique individual that you are. Each one of us loves what we do and we believe at Lomita Torrance Dental Office that it shows in the quality of our work and our patient interactions and it is one of the reasons why Lomita Torrance Dental Office is the clear choice for the dental patients in the surrounding neighborhood.
We hope that each of our patient has a happy and healthy smile makeover and that means protecting your teeth and your oral health. We care for your smile and to have a detailed understanding regarding your oral care, you can always schedule a consultation with our dental hygienist at 23520 Crenshaw Boulevard Torrance, CA 90505 or by calling us at (424) 201-2885.