Take charge of your dental health
If it’s true that doing the right thing is always the hardest, perhaps it’s no surprise that patients often lie to their dentists about their oral health habits. A recent study by the American Academy of Periodontology revealed that over 27 percent of people lie regarding how frequently they floss. We know that flossing and maintaining overall gum health wards off inflamed gums, infection, and periodontal disease. So why is it so hard to do the right thing? Developing good habits when it comes to dental care, it turns out, is more difficult than we care to admit to ourselves, let alone to our dentists.
This month, why not challenge yourself and your family to 30 days of proper care of teeth and gums? Experts say that it can take anywhere from three weeks to two months to begin a new habit. Committing a month to overall oral health means beginning with a plan. What are the best practices when it comes to dental care? If you want the best smile possible, you’ve got to start with the mundane task of treating your mouth with the best overall care you can, before you see your dentist. Here’s how.
Brush, Floss, Rinse, and Go!
According to the American Dental Association, brushing your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled brush using an ADA-approved toothpaste is the best place to start. Brush all the surfaces of your teeth while holding the brush at a 45-degree angle. It’s also a good idea to brush your tongue to keep your breath fresh. Most dentists agree that frequent brushing is more important than whether you choose an expensive or electric toothbrush or a free one given away by your dentist at your last exam. Don’t let the complexities of fancy brushes get in your way of doing what you need to do: simply brush twice a day!
Flossing once a day can be an equal challenge when we feel that we hardly have time to eat, brush, and run. In fact, flossing only takes a few minutes and can be performed before bed, when you are less hurried. Be sure that when you floss you are using 18 inches of floss held securely between your thumb and forefingers. Floss gently and curve into the gum lines, moving the floss away from your gums. Once you’re finished, throw the used piece of floss away! Reusing a piece of dental floss isn’t as effective and isn’t worth your cost-saving attempts. After all, this is a small investment in your oral health with a very large payoff: healthy gums.
Mouthwash is a great addition to your morning and evening routine or after a particularly aromatic meal. For your first step, make sure you have a mouthwash that you like on hand! This may mean buying more than one brand in order to please your entire household. According to BreathMD, swish for 30-60 seconds, gargle, and then spit, either before or after brushing. Avoid a mouthwash with alcohol and instead choose one with an oxidizing chemical addition like hydrogen peroxide. You can even make your own mouthwash with simple household ingredients like baking soda, peppermint oil, or tea tree oil.