After the year we just finished, there isn’t a soul out there who wasn’t glad to dump that 2020 calendar in the recycling bin. The one thing this dumb virus hasn’t turned upside down is the need to take care of your teeth. But did you make a New Year’s Resolution to take better care of your teeth? Of course not! We’ve brushed our teeth for so long that we take their hygiene for granted. There we stand, in front of our sinks, zoning out while haphazardly brushing around our collective mouths. Flossing? Bah. Our teeth are fine.
Yet we get stressed out when we go past the oil change mileage on the sticker in the car windshield…even though motor oil is made to last far longer than the “advised” change mileage.
We really need to give our teeth a little more respect. Your car and its oil change? You can always buy another. But your teeth…take care of them and they’ll keep on chomping away for the rest of your life. Forget about them and treat their hygiene indifferently at your own risk. Your future can be filled with gum disease, tooth extractions, and other dental health nightmares.
But healthy teeth start at home. Here’s Dr. Fong’s take on what you should be doing at home to keep your teeth healthy and happy.
OK, how long are you supposed to brush?
Two minutes, twice daily. That’s how much you should brush. If you’re a cursory brusher, two minutes can seem like an eternity, but that’s only 30 seconds per quarter. Use a soft-bristled brush (bristles that are too stiff can damage your tooth enamel and make your gums recede) and use gentle pressure. Here’s how to brush teeth properly:
- Position your tooth brush at a 45-degree angle to the gums. Using small, circular strokes, gently brush the teeth while making sure that the bristles are also touching the gums. Use overlapping circles to cover all the tooth surfaces.
- When brushing, make sure the inner, outer, and biting surfaces of the teeth are included.
- Using the tip of the brush, clean the inner portion of your front teeth.
- It is important to brush the tongue as well to remove existing bacteria and to freshen up your breath. Hit the pockets on the sides of your tongue, too. And don’t miss the roof of your mouth.
Electric toothbrushes are great, but not required as long as you brush diligently. Use a toothpaste with fluoride. Whitening toothpastes with fluoride do whiten teeth somewhat, although nothing like a professional whitening.
What is the correct way of flossing my teeth?
Flossing is the great differentiator in home hygiene. Everyone tells Dr. Fong and our hygienists they floss, but once every month or so doesn’t count! You should floss between your teeth once daily. Flossing has two purposes. It removes food debris and plaque from between the teeth, and it stimulates the gums. You may have heard about some study last year that questioned the worth of flossing, but those results are up for debate. Plus, what’s the worst thing that can happen by flossing? Keeping your teeth and gums healthier! Follow these steps to properly floss your teeth:
- Use a piece around 18 inches long. Wrap the thread around your middle fingers and leave 2 inches of thread in between your fingers.
- Use your thumbs and forefingers to gently insert the floss in between each tooth and clean the area following a sawing motion.
- Hold the floss in a “C” shape on each tooth as well as under the gumline. Move the thread up and down to clean every side of the tooth.
If you want more convenience, you can purchase floss holders. Flavored floss? If you like cinnamon and cinnamon-flavored floss will make you floss regularly, then we say “Go for it!”
Beyond the resolution to be done with this virus, maybe you should add one more resolution and make it about your home dental hygiene. All you have to gain is fewer problems that Dr. Fong will need to address. Is it time for your next checkup? Call us at (714) 549-1903 to make your appointment.