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Oral health begins with clean teeth.

Too tired to brush your teeth? Too busy to floss? If you’re tempted to skip these daily chores, remember that your smile depends on these simple dental care habits. Know how to promote oral health — and when to report oral health problems to your dentist.

What is Good Oral Hygiene?

Good oral hygiene results in a mouth that looks and smells healthy. This means:

  • Your teeth are clean and free of debris

  • Gums are pink and do not hurt or bleed when you brush or floss

  • Bad breath is not a constant problem

  • You get your teeth cleaned by one of our dentists every 3 – 6 months

Your dentist can help you learn good oral hygiene techniques and can help point out areas of your mouth that may require extra attention during brushing and flossing.

How Is Good Oral Hygiene Practiced?

Maintaining good oral hygiene is one of the most important things you can do for your teeth and gums. Healthy teeth not only enable you to look and feel good, they make it possible to eat and speak properly. Good oral health is important to your overall well-being.

Daily preventive care, including proper brushing and flossing, will help stop problems before they develop and is much less painful, expensive, and worrisome than treating conditions that have been allowed to progress.

Brushing for oral health

Oral health begins with clean teeth. Consider these brushing basics from the American Dental Association:

Brush your teeth at least twice a day. When you brush, don’t rush. Take enough time to do a thorough job.

Use the proper equipment. Use a fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush. Consider using an electric or battery-operated toothbrush, especially if you have arthritis or other problems that make it difficult to brush effectively.

Practice good technique. Hold your toothbrush at a slight angle against your teeth and brush with short back-and-forth motions. Remember to brush the inside and chewing surfaces of your teeth, as well as your tongue. Avoid vigorous or harsh scrubbing, which can irritate your gums.

Know when to replace your toothbrush. Invest in a new toothbrush or a replacement head for your electric toothbrush every three to four months — or sooner if the bristles become frayed.

 

Flossing for oral health

You can’t reach the tight spaces between your teeth or under your gumline with a toothbrush. That’s why daily flossing is important. When you floss:

Don’t skimp. Break off about 18 inches of dental floss. Wind most of the floss around the middle finger on one hand, and the rest around the middle finger on the other hand — leaving about 1 inch to floss your first tooth.

Take it one tooth at a time. Use your thumbs and forefingers to gently pull the floss from the gumline to the top of the tooth to scrape off plaque. Rub the floss against all sides of the tooth. Unwind to fresh floss as you progress to the next tooth.

Keep it up. If you have trouble getting floss through your teeth, try the waxed variety. If it’s hard to manipulate the floss, use a floss holder or an interdental cleaner — such as a dental pick or stick designed to clean between the teeth.

In addition to daily brushing and flossing, you might use an antimicrobial or antiseptic mouth rinse to help reduce plaque between your teeth.

To remove food particles from your teeth, you might try an oral irrigator — a device that aims a stream of water at your teeth. Resist the temptation to use toothpicks or other objects that could injure your gums. Keep in mind, however, an oral irrigator doesn’t replace daily brushing and flossing.