“What is your profession?” is the most common question I find myself answering when meeting new people. With a smile on my face I say, “I’m a dental hygienist,” immediately they become uncomfortable and their eyes widen as their hand quickly latches over their mouth in embarrassment. We exchange a friendly laugh and the conversation leads down toward questions regarding dental health.
Here are my top 8 tips that I love sharing with friends and family as they seek to improve their oral hygiene routine:
Brushing your teeth twice a day
Modern electric toothbrushes have timers which allow you to brush for the correct time (2 minutes in the morning and 2 minutes in the evening before sleep). They also have proven to be far more effective at plaque removal than manual toothbrushes when used correctly. There’s a saying, “Only brush the teeth you want to keep,” well I hope that’s all of them!
Flossing as a daily habit (not just the dance move!)
Did you know that only 70% of the tooth surface is reached when brushing? The remaining 30% is the surfaces in-between our teeth and can only be reached by using floss or interdental brushes. This area is where most decay and cavities form. Easy ways to remember to floss daily are by setting a daily timer, multi-tasking (i.e. flossing while watching TV, in traffic, etc.) and attach the habit to another good existing habit.
Using a tongue scraper
Ever wonder what that smell is coming from your mouth? Most likely it’s from the ridges and grooves on your tongue that trap and breed bacteria. Use a plastic or stainless-steel tongue scraper to remove these smelly toxins off your tongue and into your sink.
This is my favorite tip! It is so important to stay hydrated by drinking water. Not only is water a necessity for your body to function, but I love to encourage patients to drink sips of water in between their intake of coffee, tea, wine, any beverage – you name it! This helps flush the oral cavity from potential stain, sugar and acid that can harm tooth structures if left behind on your teeth.
Chewing sugarless gum
Bacteria love a warm, dark, moist environment to live with lots of nutrients; this means below your gums! To defeat the bad bacteria in your mouth, you can partner with a sugar substitute called Xylitol which studies have shown prevent tooth decay. Xylitol is very attractive to the bad bacteria and binds itself to this sugar thinking that it can ingest it for fuel. However, it ends up dying instead – sneaky Xylitol!
Eating healthy food
Personally I encourage a lifestyle fueled by fruits and vegetables, protein and healthy carbs. This ensures that you’re ingesting a well-balanced intake of a wide variety of macro and micronutrients daily which is so important for your overall health. Specifically, Vitamin C helps support a normal collagen formation for the normal function of teeth and gums.
Limiting sugary and acidic food
Bacteria in dental plaque change sugars into acids, thus damaging your enamel and causing issues. Acidic foods soften the tooth structure and can dissolve the minerals in tooth enamel which can cause a hole (cavities or caries).
Scheduling hygiene appointments and dental exams
Prevention is always better than cure. Attending your routine dental visits (check-ups and cleanings) can help prevent conditions and diseases if detected sooner rather than later.
We want to hear from you! Please comment your favorite tricks and how you stay on top of your oral hygiene game. And remember, you’re never fully dressed without a smile.