Good oral hygiene...what does that even mean?

Practicing good oral hygiene can certainly help prevent many dental complications down the road.

You’ve probably heard a dentist or a doctor or a friend say this many times before. Take good care of your teeth. Practice good oral hygiene. It’s a phrase thrown around a lot, but what does it REALLY mean? We break down some key routines you should incorporate into your life to maintain your teeth for a healthy smile.

Brush your teeth at least twice a day

It’s not just about the frequency either. You should use a soft-tufted toothbrush and a toothpaste that contains fluoride. The toothbrush doesn’t have to be fancy (though some studies have shown electric toothbrushes to be slightly more effective), but just make sure the head of the brush is small enough to get into all the areas of the mouth. Brush your teeth for two minutes, covering the inside, outside and the biting areas of each tooth. And don’t forget to brush the area where your teeth meet the gums. Spit out your toothpaste afterwards but don’t wash out your mouth with water. This is because the leftover toothpaste on your teeth actually provides protection for several hours after you’ve brushed your teeth!

When should you brush? Ideally, you should brush your teeth at least half an hour after eating (every meal). This is to help prevent tooth decay. A lot of the foods you eat or drink (especially fizzy drinks) contain acids that can erode your tooth’s enamel. If you are only able to brush twice per day, please try to brush AFTER eating breakfast and right before you go to bed.  

Also, don’t forget to replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months.

Clean between your teeth too

Yup. You know it. Floss. At least once a day. A lot of people are surprised as to how much extra food particles and plaque can be removed by flossing.Take about 15 inches of floss and wrap the ends around your middle fingers of each hand. Then grab the floss between the thumbs and first finger to get a tight 2-3 inch section that you can pull between your teeth. Gently scrape the floss against the sides of each tooth from the gum outwards as well. Make sure to use a fresh piece of floss each time.

Make slight changes to your food and drink habits

Sugar and sugary foods are a huge contributor to tooth decay. This is because the bacteria that make the acids that cause tooth decay absolutely thrive on sugar. There are a couple of ways that you can help with this:  

  • Limit the number of sugary food and drinks that you have. Remember, everything in moderation! Don’t stop eating your favorite dessert. Instead, limit the number of times per day you eat sugary foods.
  • Reduce the amount of acid in contact with your teeth such as limiting fizzy drinks and fruit juices. If you absolutely cannot go without your Aranciata, try using a straw or rinse with a little water afterwards
  • Chew sugar-free gum after meals. This can help rub plaque off from your teeth.

Why is this all important? 

The main purpose of good oral hygiene is to prevent dental problems down the road. This is because dental plaque and tartar can build up and cause issues such as tooth decay, tooth erosion, and gum disease (like gingivitis or periodontitis). 

  • Dental plaque is a soft whitish deposit that forms on the surfaces of your teeth. This happens when bacteria combines with food and your saliva. The bacteria then produce acid that damages your teeth. This is removed by good oral hygiene. 
  • Tartar or calculus, is a hardened calcified plaque. It sticks firmly to the teeth which makes it difficult to brush off. This is why seeing a dentist regularly is also part of good oral hygiene. The dentist or hygienist can remove tartar with special instruments during a cleaning.

Oh and don’t forget to get regular check-ups at the dentist

It’s recommended that you get a check-up with a dentist at least twice a year. Getting check-ups regularly allows for your dentist to detect any oral health issues early to prevent complications down the road. So what should you expect at a routine check-up? 

  • A cleaning - This is often performed by a dental hygienist. They use various tools and instruments to remove or scrape tartar and plaque from around your gum line and teeth surfaces. Then they will polish your teeth. 
  • X-rays (potentially) - If ordered by the dentist, you will also have x-rays taken. This could be for one specific spot in your mouth, for a specific tooth or even for your entire jaw area. This is so the dentist can look into the deeper areas of your teeth and jaw bone that they can’t see just by looking at your mouth. 
  • Exam - Once the cleaning and x-rays are done, the dentist will then come and take a look at your teeth, examine your gums, soft palette, throat and neck and check for any issues. The doctor will also review any X-rays that may have been taken. Once that is done, your dentist might make recommendations on any additional dental work you might need. This is also a good time for you to discuss your overall oral health with them.

Don’t wait to get answers to questions and concerns between checkups

We’ve got your back on this one! What’s great about Wally is you can chat with our Care Team any time and get answers to any questions or immediate dental concerns you might have. Not only that, we make it easy to understand what's going on with our at-home dental assessment kits.

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