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You’re probably thinking, “C’mon… I’m an adult. I already know how to brush my teeth and all that.” But the older we get, the more comfortable we get in our routines. That’s why it’s important to be open to new ideas and ways to improve something, even if you think you’ve already got it down. Who knows, maybe you’ll add a whole new part to your routine that makes all the difference! Plus, bad dental health affects more than just your mouth. Improper dental hygiene can increase the risk of a bacterial infection in the bloodstream, which could affect your heart valves.
But first, some advice from Dr. Kene Mackenzie, DDS, at Marian Dental Clinic:
Not all brushing counts, but you can make it all count. My primary goal in hygiene education is to convince patients that brushing their teeth is not just a morning routine; that there is a goal to it.
It is important to understand that the intent of brushing teeth is to remove food and bacterial plaque from the tooth surface. Brushing that is done before a meal does not count because you put food right on top of what you just brushed. When my patients tell me that they brush their teeth before breakfast, then eat breakfast and head out, I tell them that such brushing doesn’t count. This helps set a stage for a conversation with the patient that brings a change on how they perform oral hygiene.
So grab your toothpaste and let’s get started!
It’s not just about your teeth.
When we think about dental health, we think about teeth. But your mouth also has a tongue, gums and a roof (or “palate” if we’re getting official). Be sure to hit all these parts with a soft to medium bristle brush, and don’t push too hard. Cleaning these parts will make a huge difference in the elimination of bad breath bacteria, and who doesn’t want that?
Let the fluoride linger.
Before you go to bed at night, brush your teeth but don’t rinse the toothpaste residue from those pearly whites! Yes, you can spit — just don’t swirl water around and spit again. Fluoride actually strengthens the surface of your teeth, so let it sit there overnight to make your smile a little stronger. If you just ate dinner, it may be best to brush twice — once to get rid of the food particles and again to leave that fluoride film behind.
Save the toothpicks for finger food.
As cool and cowboy-ish as it looks, toothpicks are not friends to your gums. When you’re working to get that little bit of food out, you could accidentally injure your gums and then expose yourself to unwanted bacteria. Instead, just stick with the good ol’ time-tested floss. Which brings us to our next point…
Floss like a boss.
OK, maybe you already floss. And that’s great because a lot of people don’t! But like your grandma (or at least someone’s grandma) says: “Anything worth doing is worth doing right.” Make sure you really slide the floss on the tooth surface and push it between both teeth in each gap. Get that sweet spot between your gums and the tooth itself, and then move on.
Finish it up with some mouthwash.
As if brushing and flossing weren’t enough, right? But the good news is that rinsing with mouthwash literally only takes 30-60 seconds. Be sure to pick a mouthwash without alcohol as some experts say alcoholic mouthwash could increase your chances of cancer. But just to reiterate: mouthwash is not a substitute for brushing and flossing!
Now that you’ve got some healthy reminders and hopefully some new insights, don’t be afraid to put them to use! Afterall, who doesn’t want a brighter smile and healthier overall hygiene?