Basics of Oral Health

Markham Dental Centre

Most people know that the beauty of your smile is very closely linked to your personal oral health, but did you know your overall health is too? Your mouth is one of the main entry points of the body. Like most other surfaces, your mouth also happens to be overrun with bacteria that are kept in check by your oral hygiene routine.

Without the basic routine of brushing, flossing, and otherwise maintaining your pearly whites, that bacteria growth can begin to take a turn for the worse. Regular and beneficial bacteria can quickly be replaced by its more malignant counterparts, causing sickness and infection that can negatively impact your overall health.

According to some studies, you put yourself at a much greater risk for certain diseases when you neglect your oral health. Research is now showing that there could be a link between poor oral health and endocarditis, cardiovascular disease, and premature births.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could simply avoid these pesky health problems with a great daily oral routine?

Keeping up with your dental hygiene can do wonders for promoting overall oral hygiene that can help to keep your body healthy. You can stop fretting over whether you’re flossing enough and start following some of these key tips to help improve your oral health. By changing your dental routine, you can stay out of the dentist’s office for longer periods of time and reap the benefits.

Start with the basics of brushing

Everyone knows that you’re supposed to brush your teeth on a daily basis. If someone told you that this was the first step toward achieving a better smile, you may be tempted to roll your eyes. However, we often neglect the finer points of brushing our teeth in the frantic rush to get out the door each morning. Think about it: when is the last time you spent time considering whether you were actually brushing your teeth properly?

In an attempt to get you on the track to better brushing habits, we’re going to take you all the way back to the basics. From the very first moment you pick up the toothbrush, you should be thinking about how to properly clean your teeth.

First and foremost, you need to remember to take your time when it comes to this morning (and evening) routine. It’s tempting to spread a glob of toothpaste on your bristles, quickly run them over your veneers, rinse, and spit. In fact, you could probably brush your teeth in under twenty seconds. Unfortunately, that isn’t going to be enough time for you to actually clean your teeth well.

Most dentists would agree that it should take you at least two minutes to do a thorough job brushing your teeth. Since you should really brush your teeth twice each day, this means that you would ideally dedicate four whole minutes to brushing your teeth per day.

Perhaps more importantly, you need to spend those four minutes focusing on your overall technique. How you hold your toothbrush is critical to ensuring your oral hygiene is well taken care of.

Perhaps you could use a refresher course on the proper methods for brushing your teeth. You can follow this simple three-step process to ensure that your mouth is scrubbed clean on a daily basis:

  1. Start in the right spot. Hold your toothbrush at an angle, starting where your teeth and gums meet. Many dentists will recommend a 45-degree angle to make the best impact. Move the brush down and away from the gums to begin with.
  2. Brush the rest of your teeth. Once you’ve thoroughly cleaned the area around the gums, it’s time to focus on the rest of your teeth. Move through the outside, inside, and tops of your teeth with a short back-and-forth motion. Spend roughly one minute on the bottom half and one minute on the top half.
  3. Don’t forget about your tongue. When you’re finished brushing your teeth, take a few seconds to scrub your tongue gently.

These three basic steps will apply if you use a standard toothbrush. If you choose an electric toothbrush, all you will need to do is move the bristles around to touch each area. The motor in the toothbrush will do the scrubbing action for you. For more information on choosing the perfect toothbrush, we will dive into those issues next.

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Be sure to choose the right toothbrush

Did you think that toothbrushes were a one-size-fits-all deal? Most people recognize that there are different types of toothbrushes available for purchase, but it’s difficult to determine which one is ultimately the right fit for you. A quick trip to the drugstore can quickly overwhelm someone who just wants a basic toothbrush. There are different hardness levels, standard toothbrushes, electric versions, and even special bristles that promise a cleaner mouth.

How do you go about making the right decision that will improve your oral health?

The first mistake that many people make when purchasing a toothbrush is buying a model with bristles that are too hard. There is a common myth that a harder brush allows you to scrub away more of the plaque and bacteria that can damage your smile. Unfortunately, this myth continues to persist despite professional recommendations to the contrary.

The majority of dentists, including the Canadian Dental Association, recommend using a soft brush with rounded bristles. When you purchase a harder brush, you’re actually doing more harm than good for your oral health. Scrubbing your teeth too hard or too vigorously can actually lead to more sensitive (and painful) teeth.

Over time, this more rigorous brushing style can actually wear away your enamel and cause the gums to recede. While this may sound bad all on its own, it also leaves too much space for the tooth’s dentin to become exposed. This substance is connected to the nerve within your teeth, so exposure can lead to more pain when the tooth is exposed to different sensations. This can include extra hot or extra cold food and beverages.  Just ask your Winnipeg Dentist for more information.

Other than the bristles, consumers also need to be certain to choose a toothbrush that fits comfortably into their mouths. This seems like a common-sense tip, but it actually requires more thought than you may imagine. A smaller toothbrush head is easier to maneuver into the mouth to scrub those back teeth each time.

You can choose what shape and what style the bristles are, as long as they are comfortable for you. There isn’t necessarily a particular advantage for one style of bristles or a certain shape for your toothbrush. Ultimately, these secondary factors are left completely up to your personal preferences and comfort level.

The other major thing that most people choose to consider is whether they need a manual toothbrush or an electric one. You can spend hundreds of dollars purchasing an electric toothbrush that makes a long list of promises about your soon-to-be improved oral health, but is it worth the investment?

An electric or battery-operated toothbrush does have a place in the market if you can afford it. There are plenty of bargain versions of more expensive name brands available for purchase at your local drugstore. A powered toothbrush can be easier for many people to use, particularly if they have limited movement in their hands due to extenuating circumstances.

If you struggle to maintain great oral hygiene and to gently scrub away plaque, an electric toothbrush could do a more effective job. Additionally, it’s a lot more fun for kids and adults alike to use a high-powered version of their standard manual toothbrush. It may even inspire you to brush for the full two minutes.

Take care of your toothbrush

Now that you have the perfect toothbrush, you can’t just leave it lay on the counter and hope for the best. You need to actually take care of your toothbrush to ensure that it can continue to do a thorough job cleaning your mouth.

The first thing you need to remember to do is to clean your toothbrush. Adding a squirt of toothpaste twice a day isn’t enough to actually kill the bacteria that can grow on the bristles and around the head of this important tool. You need to ensure that you are rinsing it thoroughly after each and every use.

When you’re finished, store it in an upright position in a cup or toothbrush holder. With this simple trick for positioning the brush, you can allow it to dry thoroughly before your next use.

Many people have bought into the myth that storing your toothbrush in an enclosed container is the best way to protect it for the future. Unfortunately, this can lead to a wet toothbrush that never gets a chance to dry out. Bacteria can thrive in a moist environment like a toothbrush holder. When this starts to occur, you really put your overall health at risk.

The other important thing to keep in mind is that each and every toothbrush will have a reasonable lifespan. Dentists recommend replacing the toothbrush every three months or so unless it starts to demonstrate signs of wear before that point. Frayed bristles are a clear indicator that you need to pick up a new toothbrush on your next trip to the store.

Remember to toss your toothbrush in the trash if you’ve recently been sick. The bristles can hold onto the bacteria from your sickness, causing it to linger or to infect your immune system all over again after you’re better. It’s always preferable to spend a few dollars to replace your toothbrush than to spend another week sick.

Flossing is essential to oral health

Flossing is everyone’s least favorite part of maintaining their basic oral health. Dentists and oral hygienists are always reluctant to even ask patients if they make flossing a regular part of their dental routine. More often than not, the question is met with a sheepish shake of the head and a promise to do better before the next six-month cleaning.

Skipping the dental floss can lead to cavities when the bacteria and plaque become trapped in the spaces between your teeth. Your toothbrush can’t fit into these tight crevices, so the floss is there to break up the plaque before it can harden into tartar or cause cavities. Your smile will be healthier overall when you take some time to roll out the floss.

This task doesn’t have to be extremely painful or even time-consuming. With a little bit of practice and some expert tips, you can start cleaning between your teeth like a professional in no time.

The biggest mistake many people make when they start flossing is trying to skimp on the amount of dental floss they use. It takes more string than you may realize to do this well. Try pulling off a piece that is roughly eighteen inches in length, probably the distance from your hand to your shoulder.

Wrap all of the extra floss around your index and middle fingers until only two inches remains between your hands. From here, you’re ready to do the actual flossing.

Slide the floss in the space in between each tooth and run it from the top of the tooth to the gum line several times. Wrap it in a C-shape around each tooth, remembering to get your back molars also. Rewrap the floss and use a new section as it starts to collect particles and build-up from between the teeth.

Most people have been taught to brush their teeth and follow it up with flossing. However, many dentists would recommend flossing first so you can follow it up by brushing those particles away.

If you aren’t used to flossing between your teeth, your gums may be extremely sore and tender the first few times you do so. Work slower and be gentle with the gums while they adjust to this addition to your dental hygiene routine. They may bleed slightly until they officially adjust to this daily cleaning.

Do you feel like regular dental floss just doesn’t work for you? You can try any number of other tools to help clear out bacteria buildup from between your teeth. Some people prefer the gentler feeling of a water flosser or oral irrigator. While these can be a bit expensive upfront, they are reusable and they offer a highly-effective alternative to traditional flossing techniques.

You may also consider using tools like dental picks or brushes if they are easier for you to handle.

Give your teeth more of what they need and less of what they don’t

Promoting great oral health and creating a brighter smile is a two-part process. You have to give your teeth a lot more of the things they need to be healthy and reduce their exposure to things that wear them down over time.

First, it’s important to give your teeth everything they need to be strong and healthy. Brushing and flossing go a long way toward improving the overall health of your teeth, but it isn’t enough all on its own. They also need the help of a high-quality toothpaste with the supplements and minerals that can help to improve their health.

Much like purchasing a new toothbrush, you can also quickly become overwhelmed by the number of toothpastes out there. They are marketed to consumers with a wide variety of needs, ranging from sensitive teeth to extra fluoride. The trick is understanding just which ones you actually need and how they can help.

Be sure to purchase your toothpaste from a reputable source, preferably one that has been tested by a trustworthy dental association like the Canadian Dental Association. Cheaper and less-recognized name brands could contain harmful ingredients that can do irreparable damage to your teeth. Be sure to search for a seal of approval from an association that is well-known in and around the community.

Next, you can search for a toothpaste that seems to suit your needs the best. If you have sensitive teeth, a special toothpaste may help you to reduce your overall discomfort when eating hot or cold foods. Children can benefit from toothpaste that has extra fluoride in it, as can adults who don’t eat a well-balanced diet. You can choose the product that seems to suit your dental needs the most.

This can give your teeth a healthy boost and dose of the ingredients they need. However, you still need to avoid some of the things that can detract from your overall oral health.

Items in your everyday diet can actually harm the enamel on your teeth or compromise their integrity. This includes extremely chewy, sticky, or hard foods such as certain types of candy or even ice cubes. Hard candies, particularly those that stay in your mouth for a long time, can be extremely bad for your teeth. Excess exposure to sugar can lead to more cavities.

Similarly, you may want to consider the types of beverages you consume on a regular basis. Citrus fruit juices, coffee, soda, sports drinks, and even certain types of tea all have high acid and sugar contents that can eat away at your enamel slowly over time. While you can consume these items in moderation, be sure to brush your teeth directly afterward or drink plenty of water to rinse some of this acid away.

The best thing to drink throughout the day is water, particularly if it has fluoride as an additive. This can strengthen your teeth and help to prevent frequent cavities from forming. If you can’t stand drinking only water, dairy products are also extremely beneficial for your teeth. Dairy is a rich source of calcium which contributes to creating stronger teeth over time.

Adding proteins from nuts or lean meats can contribute to improving the health of your teeth. These provide the necessary building blocks to repair your body’s key systems, including lending strength to your teeth.

Even fruits and vegetables are great for your oral health. The fiber and the water content work together to help cleanse your teeth from acids and built up food particles that may become stored there over the course of the day. You may have known that these were essential ingredients for your daily diet, but you probably never thought of them in terms of your oral health.

A balanced diet is a great way to lend health to your entire body, but your oral health can benefit from this more than you may imagine.

Taking care of your oral health is essential to protecting your smile for the years ahead. Once your permanent teeth grow in, you never get a second chance at taking care of your teeth. Dentists can help by providing you with dentures or veneers, but it is always beneficial if you can take care of your teeth properly in the first place.

You can never start encouraging your children too early to maintain great oral health either. Be sure to make brushing their teeth a fun time for them in the morning and at night, whether you play a silly song or brush your teeth together. It takes less than ten minutes each day to do a thorough job of cleaning your mouth and protecting your smile.

By improving your daily dental hygiene, you can also improve your overall health. Clear away the bacteria that your mouth can harbor on a daily basis. This could lead to a lower risk of certain diseases and less chance of common infections. It only requires a few minutes each day to make the most use of these steps.

If you have questions about your oral health or a concern about your teeth, be sure to contact your dentist in Winnipeg . At Markham Dental Centre, we’re happy to take a look and talk about how you can protect your smile and your health for the future. Give us a call or send us an email today to let us know how we can partner with you for a brighter smile tomorrow