Oral Hygiene 101: How to Preserve a Great Smile

Woman flossing her teeth
Shot of an attractive young woman flossing her teeth at home for good oral hygiene.

We’ve learned since childhood that brushing our teeth daily is important for oral health. However, there are still plenty of details most people don’t know or forget. While brushing is a critical part of oral hygiene, some extra knowledge can go a long way toward preserving your smile and helping you avoid extra trips to the dentist.

Toothbrush Maintenance

Toothbrushes wear down over time, but do you know when you should replace yours? Dentists recommend changing your toothbrush every three months, although it’s worth seeing what your toothbrush manufacturer recommends. Worn-down brushes aren’t able to clean your teeth and gums as well as new toothbrush heads, and they can even cause some gum damage. Furthermore, toothbrushes harbor various germs, potentially leading to avoidable infections. Research shows that 75 percent of people don’t change their toothbrushes or toothbrush heads frequently enough, so make sure you stay on top of toothbrush maintenance.

Flossing is Important

Toothbrushes can cover most of your teeth, but they can’t reach every nook and cranny. If you’ve ever flossed and seen plaque or debris on your floss, you’ve demonstrated the issue: Toothbrush heads are simply too large to completely clean your teeth. Additionally, flossing is important for preventing gum disease. If your gums feel sore after flossing, stick with it, as your gums will strengthen over time. If you’re concerned about bad breath, make sure to floss regularly; debris stuck between teeth can add to bad breath.

Focus on Your Gums

As important as flossing is for cleaning your teeth, it’s equally important for fighting gum disease. Gum disease can cause your gums to recess, and prolonged gingivitis can even lead to chronic conditions and tooth loss. Your brushing technique should ensure you brush your gums in addition to your teeth. If you notice a bit of bleeding while brushing your teeth, make sure that you are brushing lightly with a soft bristle toothbrush. If it continues after brushing softly for a few days, schedule an appointment with Rinaldi Dental Arts in Chevy Chase, MD, as bleeding is typically a sign that you’re fighting a bacterial infection.

Keep Up With Your Appointments

If you’re feeling busy with work and life, it can be tempting to push back your dental appointments for a month or two. Over the long term, however, doing so can cause harm, as professional care is necessary to reach all of the plaque that accumulates on your teeth. In addition, your dentist and oral hygienists will monitor your teeth over time, letting you address problems that arise well before they develop into more serious issues.

Pay Attention to Your Oral Hygienist

People often zone out while getting their teeth cleaned, and it’s easy to forget the advice their hygienists provide. Brushing and flossing, however, are heavily dependent on proper technique, so make sure to pay attention to how to best care for your teeth. If you have any questions, make sure to ask them during your appointment at Rinaldi Dental Arts in Chevy Chase, MD. Dentists and oral hygienists are happy to address any concerns you have.

Limit Sugary Beverages and Snacks

Studies about how diet affects our teeth present mixed results. Systematic reviews tend to point out a common cause of tooth decay: Sugar. Limiting sugar in your diet has a number of health benefits beyond dental hygiene, but it’s okay for most people to have a treat on occasion unless they have certain underlying medical conditions. Try to drink water after eating or drinking a significant amount of sugar to rinse away excess sugar, and consider brushing your teeth afterward if you’re able.

Consider Using Mouthwash

The data about mouthwash is somewhat mixed, and it’s not as important as brushing and flossing. Still, dentists typically recommend mouthwash to keep bad bacteria from accumulating. Mouthwash can also help you wash away debris and reach places even flossing can’t access.

Everyone knows that oral hygiene is important, but most people aren’t doing as much as they should to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. However, like any habit, regular practice can go a long way. Set a schedule, and force yourself to stick with it for a week. With a bit of perseverance, you’ll find it much easier to stick with your oral hygiene schedule.

Schedule an appointment with Rinaldi Dental Arts in Chevy Chase, MD, for a dental consultation. We would love to help you maintain your healthy smile.