It’s Oral Health Month, so we decided to cover some of the basics for keeping our teeth healthy. For most of us, we rush through brushing our teeth, we don’t make time for flossing, and we approach our next dentist appointment with fear and dread. (Dentophobia is real!)
But think about it like this: The less you floss, the longer you get to spend in the dentist’s chair.
When was the last time you saw your dentist?
You’ve most likely heard that you should see your dentist every 6 months. But the reality is that it depends on a number of things: your overall health, how often you brush and floss, your dental history, and whether or not you smoke or eat lots of sugary foods.
For example, if you have a history of gum disease, your dentist may ask you to come in every 3-4 months. And the better you take care of your teeth, the less often you need to go. But keep in mind that seeing the dentist every 6 months helps your dental team detect and treat small issues before they become big problems. That’s reason enough for us!
Why do I need my teeth cleaned professionally?
Your dentist or dental hygienist makes sure your teeth get a proper cleaning, which includes removing plaque and tartar, and possibly applying fluoride. Having your teeth cleaned by a professional is yet another way to avoid serious oral health issues, like gum disease.
Similar to how often you see the dentist, the frequency with which you get a cleaning is unique to you and your oral health history. Still, it doesn’t hurt to make it a bi-yearly habit—similar to how you brush your teeth twice a day (but less of a time commitment)!
While your dental hygienist is also responsible for taking x-rays of your teeth, this will not necessarily happen at every visit. Assuming your teeth are in good health, you can expect to have an x-ray taken approximately once every 2-4 years.
Am I doing this right?
When was the last time you got a pointer on HOW to brush your teeth? Don’t laugh! If the last time someone showed you was Grade 1 – maybe recommendations have been updated since then?
Also: there is always room for improvement.
Start by getting yourself a soft-bristled toothbrush and a fluoride or natural toothpaste, and commit to brushing for 2 minutes, twice a day. Make sure not to brush too vigorously as this can contribute to receding gums, which exposes more of the tooth and can lead to decay. A few other tips:
- Make sure you brush with your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle.
- Use short strokes as you gently move the brush back and forth.
- Don’t forget to brush all surfaces—outer, inner, the part you use to chew, and your tongue!
- Replace your toothbrush every 3 months, or possibly earlier if your toothbrush is frayed
Watch this short video to see how to brush right. Whether it’s a hand-held or an electric brush, take 4 minutes out of your day to focus on a quality clean.
Do I really need to floss every day?
“More than 500 bacterial species can be found in plaque.”
While not all bacteria is “bad,” we still can’t think of a better reason to incorporate flossing into your daily routine. Why? Brushes can’t reach in between your teeth, and the bad stuff eats away at your teeth by releasing an acid that causes cavities.
And then there’s the fact that flossing prevents tooth decay and gum disease.
Do you really need to floss every day? We say yes.
Improve your Routine
If you agree that your current routine has some room for improvement, we recommend committing to following:
- See your dentist regularly & get a professional cleaning
- Brush (at least) twice a day for 2 minutes each session
- Floss every other day
- Replace your toothbrush AT MINIMUM every 3 months. Earlier if its frayed. (also, if its frayed… ease up on the pressure)
Come on. The above is 100% doable. So just do it!