Focusing on the details every day can make a difference
October is Dental Hygiene Month—a great time to put some thought and energy into how you care for those pearly whites. We might not always think of it, but every time we eat or drink, what goes in our mouths creates a sticky film of food particles and bacteria. When these accumulate on your teeth, it can form plaque, which erodes the enamel and can cause cavities and decay to teeth as well as gums. (Here’s a shortcut: Even chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes following meals can increase the flow of saliva and help wash away food and cavity-causing bacteria.)
Once plaque hardens into tartar, you need a dentist or hygienist to scrape it off—which can be painful! This is why you should get professionally cleanings from your dentist at least twice a year. But between visits, it’s on you to take great care of your teeth.
Here are some tips for making the most out of your brushing:
1. Focus on your entire mouth
You don’t want to miss any parts of your mouth—they’re all important. The front teeth and molars may be the part you show the world, but if you skip the insides of you teeth, you could be facing a mouth full of fillings down the road. You want to brush all of these surfaces carefully: outer, inner, chewing, and behind the back molars. Even brushing your tongue is good for oral hygiene, and promotes fresh breath.
2. Follow the two-minute rule
Have you heard the 2-minute rule? That’s how long you should be standing at the sink, brushing. Next time you brush, time yourself. It can feel like a long time, but it’s the best way to remove the particles and bacteria that cause decay and plaque. You can break it down by spending 30 seconds for each quadrant of your teeth (lower left, lower right, upper right, upper left).
3. Brush after that late-night snack
If you eat after your final brush of the day, you’re going to bed with food particles or sugar on your teeth. All night long that can promote tooth decay. If you’re a late-night snacker, make sure to brush again.
4. Don’t forget or skip a brushing!
You want to brush at least twice a day—especially after meals. If you find yourself forgetting, set a reminder on your phone until you get into the habit. Keep a brush and small tube of toothpaste with you, so you’re covered if you need to squeeze in a brushing at work or at school. Don’t fall asleep on the couch at night before you’ve brushed!
5. Don’t let the flossing fall by the wayside
Brushing your teeth can only do so much, since a toothbrush can’t reach between your teeth. This is why flossing at least once a day is so essential—to remove food and bacteria from between your teeth after you brush. Here are some flossing tips to help you get it right.
Take care of your teeth and they will take care of you! This month is a great time to get more focused on excellent dental care.
This article is part of the weekly blog of the Salter School. We offer several different professional training programs at our campuses in Malden and Fall River, MA. Reach out to us today for more information or to schedule a campus tour!