Basics of Caring for Teeth & Gums

If you dread visiting your local dentist for your dental checkup, maybe you need to look at it from another perspective. I don’t think anyone actually likes going to the dentist, but I would rather go regularly and know that my teeth and gums are healthy, than only go once every 5 or so years and not know what to expect. I know that by visiting my dentist regularly that if anything is not quite right, they will pick it up early and give me tips on how to correct it.

It’s a good idea to take the time to understand how you can start caring for your teeth and gums properly, so that your trip the dentist is not as unpleasant. With some slight changes in your daily habits, you may find that your teeth and gums are healthier and your dental trips are a lot shorter, cheaper and much more pleasant.

That being said, here are some basic tips on how to keep your teeth and gums healthy between dental check-ups.

Teeth and Gums Cleaning Tips

Brush for 2 minutes

Firstly, you need to be aware on the correct way to clean your teeth. While you are brushing your teeth, start timing yourself to ensure that you are spending at least two minutes twice a day cleaning your teeth.

Healthy teeth and gums are important to general overall health.

Healthy teeth and gums are important to general overall health.

These two minute time slots should be broken down by the four sections (or quadrants) of your mouth – top and bottom, left and right. Each of these sections should have at least 30 seconds spent on them cleaning. While this may feel like a long time, especially if you are used to doing a quick clean, this is the minimum amount of time you need to spend to ensure your teeth and gums are clean and healthy.

Many people, especially parents, find that playing a song that is just over two minutes long is a great way to keep track of the time spend cleaning your teeth. For children, they will be busy listening to the music, so the time will pass quickly. Other people find keeping a timer in their bathroom helps ensure they are spending the right amount of time cleaning their teeth.

Another option is to try an electric toothbrush. Most have a built-in timer, which will indicate to you when you have spent 2 minutes brushing. This way, you have no excuses to say that you lost track of time while brushing.

Choose the right toothbrush

Secondly, as you are brushing your teeth you should ensure that you have the right toothbrush. Many people don’t understand how important it is to have a toothbrush that is going to provide you with the best cleaning. You should find a toothbrush that has soft bristles so you can ensure that you are going to be caring for your teeth properly. Some people think that they should brush their teeth with a hard bristled brush because it will work better, but a soft bristled brush is much better for your teeth and gums.

If you are going to brush with a hard bristle you will find that you may damage your teeth while brushing, as it can wear away at the enamel. A hard bristled toothbrush may also end up damaging your gums. If you have been brushing with a hard bristled toothbrush, at your next dental checkup, advise your dentist and they will be able to check and let you know if there has been any damage.

Replace your toothbrush

Thirdly, when you have found the toothbrush that is going to work the best for your teeth, you should also make sure that you replace the toothbrush regularly. For hygiene purposes and to ensure your teeth are being cleaned correctly, you should replace your toothbrush every three to four months. Your toothbrush bristles should stand upright; once they start to fray, turn down or turn outwards, this is the time to replace your toothbrush.

Floss regularly

Flossing is also an important factor in keeping your teeth and gums healthy. If you haven’t used dental floss before, be sure to ask your dentist at your next dental checkup on the best type of floss to use and how to floss. Make sure you take your time and floss as shown by your dentist. This will ensure you are cleaning between your teeth correctly.

These days there are different types of flossing methods and tools available. Some people find it hard to wrap the floss around their fingers and get to their back teeth; this is where flosssing forks or floss picks come in handy. These have handles and heads at different angles making hard to reach areas easier to access.

If you are flossing, and your gums start to bleed, it is best to check with your dentist on your next dental checkup whether this is due to the way you are flossing or whether it is a symptom of gum disease. While you can expect some discomfort when you first start flossing, you need to ensure that there is nothing more serious going on.

If you have dental veneers or dental implants, your dentist is the best person to ask about keeping your teeth clean and healthy. The flossing technique may be different depending on the type of dental veneer or dental implant that you have, and your cleaning process may also vary.

Other dental hygiene tips

There are a number of other things you can do, on top of the basic routine described above. This includes:

  • using picksters to further clean between teeth (see the video below)
  • using a mouth wash to kill bacteria and leave your breath fresh
  • drinking lots of water, especially after meals, to neutralize acid and to rinse away any left-over food particles
  • avoiding sugary and sticky foods, and trying to eat more fibrous foods such as apples.

If you are starting a new teeth and gum cleaning routine, ensure you visit your dentist to know exactly what you need to do and when you need to do it, especially if you have dental veneers, dental implants or braces.

Healthy teeth and gums are important to general overall health and your dentist will be able to give you tips on keeping your gums and teeth healthy at your next dental checkup.

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