Most people take the health of their teeth for granted: they rarely floss, brush haphazardly, open bottles with them, chew ice, and don’t even schedule regular cleanings and checkups. Most people pay far more attention to their car oil change appointments.
But if you take care of your teeth, they’ll take care of you for the rest of your life. Can you really say that about your car?
Let’s have a little refresher course — Dental Hygiene 101.
- Putting in your time now will save you a lot of time in a dentist’s chair later.
- Use a soft-bristled brush. You may think a firmer brush would clean better, but they actually make your gums recede.
- Start in the back of each quarter and work your way forward in an overlapping circular pattern.
- Hit the inside of the teeth, the molar tops, the outsides, the gumline, the roof, and tongue.
- You should spend two minutes. If you want to break that down, think 30 minutes per quarter.
- Don’t be too firm because you can wear down your enamel.
- When your bristles start to fan out, it’s time for a new toothbrush.
- Brush two or three times daily.
- Floss once daily.
- Use around 18 inches of floss. Wrap it around either your index or middle finger leaving a two-inch span between them.
- Hit both sides of every tooth, going down just below the gumline.
- Proper flossing takes about one minute.
- Waxed, unwaxed, flavored, plain? Makes no difference, but if cinnamon makes you actually floss, then go for it!
- Ribbon, tape, regular floss, floss picks. They’re all good.
- Flossing can cause a little bit of bleeding, especially if you’ve missed a few days, but that will go away with regular flossing.
Look, you passed Dental Hygiene 101. That was easy, huh? But there is one last piece of the hygiene routine — scheduling twice-yearly visits to the Doctors of Dental Medicine. Beyond removing plaque and tartar and making your teeth sparkle, these visits are the time for us to find early signs of decay or gum disease before they become real problems.