Oral Health 101: Back to the Basics

oral health basics

With the Back To School season in full swing, it is the perfect time to talk about exams – dental exams, that is. The American Dental Association recommended that each person have two dental exams and cleanings per year. The routine check-ups help maintain the health of your teeth and gums while also helping to prevent future problems as well. If summer was a bit busy, it might be time to schedule your dental exam and get back to the basics.

Flossing 101

A survey from Delta Dental revealed that only 4 in 10 Americans floss daily. It may be tempting to skip the flossing, but as an interdental cleaner, floss removes plaque and food particles from between the teeth – places a toothbrush simply cannot reach. If you need another reason to grab that floss, flossing also helps improve breath by removing bacteria from between teeth.

Tips for better flossing

  • Choose the type for your oral needs: Whether you choose waxed floss, threaded floss, or floss picks, there is a type of floss for every mouth – even those with braces!
  • Floss before you brush: Most people use the phrase “brushing and flossing” but the truth is that flossing should come before brushing. Once the floss loosens the debris, plaque, bacteria from in between teeth, the brushing motion helps actually to remove it from your mouth.

Brushing 101

The cornerstone of good oral hygiene is a good brushing routine. Once you’ve flossed, you’re ready to brush, and as any good brusher knows, you need the right tools: a high-quality fluoride toothpaste and a toothbrush. Choose the right toothpaste for your needs (sensitive, whitening, tartar control, children’s formula, etc.) and follow these simple steps:

  • Apply a pea-sized amount of toothpaste to your brush. Use a smear of paste if applying to a young child’s toothbrush.
  • Using a 45° angle, gently brush the outer (and inner) surface of each tooth. Use a gentle circular motion so as not to irritate gum tissue.
  • Next, brush the chewing surface of each tooth.
  • Brush your tongue. Many toothbrushes have a “tongue scraper” for this reason.
  • Don’t skimp: make sure you brush for two full minutes. For kids, it may help to play a song; when the song ends, brushing can end.
  • Follow these steps in the morning and before bed as well.

Mouthwash 101

Perhaps mouthwash is most commonly known for its odor busting qualities, but mouthwash offers other benefits such as reduced risk of cavities and gum disease. For individuals aged 6 and up, mouthwash is a good cap to the oral care routine, but be sure to follow the directions carefully on your mouthwash bottle. Some mouthwashes, particularly prescription rinses, may have specific directions like no eating or drinking after using mouthwash.

Remember: when choosing mouthwash, look for one with the ADA Seal of Acceptance. If you are unsure which mouthwash (or any dental product) to purchase, your dentist can recommend one for you.

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