Brushing and flossing regularly are two of the best ways to take care of your dental health, but there are certain methods to each that work better than others. In addition, you can add other dental care products to your daily regimen to make sure your teeth and gums stay healthy and free of decay. This is especially important if you've ever had gum disease or tooth decay, because your mouth may be more sensitive or need special care.
- Pick the Right Brush and Floss. Not all toothbrushes and flosses are the same, and you should buy products that are tailored to your needs. For example, if you wear braces, a brush head with varying bristle lengths will work well to clean around your braces and still touch your teeth. If you have sensitive teeth or gums, look for a brush with soft bristles. Firmer bristles may feel like they're doing more, but they may actually be scraping enamel off your teeth and hurting your gums. Likewise, choose a floss that is comfortable and won't hurt your teeth. If flossing hurts, look for wax-covered floss. You can also look for narrow floss which fits more easily into small gaps.
- Wait An Hour After Meals. Rather than brushing your teeth immediately after a meal or snack, it's best to wait about an hour before you start cleaning. This is because the acids in the foods you eat weakens your enamel, and applying pressure from a brush when it is already weakened makes your brush more likely to cause damage over time. Waiting an hour lets the saliva in your mouth wash off most of the acids and sugars, leaving your toothbrush to clean up the rest.
- Brush Your Tongue, Too. Your tongue won't develop cavities, but it does carry plenty of bacteria from everything you've put in your mouth. If you don't brush your tongue, that bacteria won't go anywhere. Because of the tiny crevices in your tongue, these bacteria can hang on to your tongue instead of being swept away by a drink or a quick rinse with water.
- Floss Before Brushing. Flossing before brushing can be more effective than doing it the other way around, even if you're doing them the same way. Flossing first cleans out the areas in between your teeth, letting the fluoride from your toothpaste touch the inside surfaces when you brush. If you wait to floss until after you brush, you're cleaning the gunk away, but your toothpaste might not be getting in between your teeth.
- Use a Rinse. Using a mouth wash can add an extra level of clean to your mouth. Because mouth washes are liquids, they can get into all the crevices your brush can't reach. Certain bacteria-fighting rinses can help stave off gum disease and tooth decay, and fluoride products can help prevent cavities. Use a mouth wash after you're done brushing and flossing for the best effect.
If you aren't sure what your specific dental needs are, talk to your dentist and ask for recommendations. If there is a product that fits your specific needs, it's better to use that than some generic product. Visit a clinic like Pike Lake Dental Center to get started.