Choose the right toothpaste. Toothpastes are a key part of your oral hygiene routine as they help remove food debris and plaque from your teeth and gums. Toothpastes can come in a gel, paste or powder form and while they may have similar ingredients, there are different kinds of toothpastes that are made for individual needs.
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral found in water. Toothpastes with fluoride help prevent tooth decay by strengthening your tooth enamel and fighting away bacteria that cause cavities. Fluoride toothpaste is also recommended for toddlers and children but in a lower percentage. Too much fluoride can weaken the enamel. For children younger than three years, an amount equal to a grain of rice is enough. For children aged three to six years, use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.
Whitening toothpastes usually contain mild abrasives that are typically mineral compounds such as magnesium carbonate, hydrated aluminum oxides and calcium carbonate. These help remove surface stains that cause yellowing and help you to achieve a brighter tooth surface. Whitening toothpastes also often contain a small percentage of hydrogen peroxide, a bleaching agent that helps remove stains.
Whitening toothpastes that contain hydrogen peroxide, which is effective, but it can cause sensitivity. You can ease the sensitivity by alternating between a whitening and sensitivity toothpaste every day.
Desensitizing toothpastes are best for people who have sensitive gums and teeth. These contain compounds such as potassium nitrate and potassium citrate with soothing effects to reduce sensitivity. To improve the effectiveness of these products, leave them on for at least two minutes before rinsing with water.
For people with fluoride sensitivity, toothpastes with natural ingredients such as xylitol, green tea extract, papaya plant extract, citric acid, zinc citrate and baking soda are also effective in whitening and thoroughly cleaning teeth.
Pick the right toothbrush. Both manual and electric powered toothbrushes can effectively clean teeth. People who have difficulty using a manual toothbrush may find powered toothbrushes easier to use but you will still need to learn how to use it properly to avoid gum recession over time. Your dentist can help you decide which type is best suited to your needs.
A soft bristled toothbrush is best for people with sensitive teeth and gums.
Keep your toothbrush clean. Make sure to replace your toothbrush every three to four months. Avoid storing it in a closed container, as bacteria can accumulate between the bristles over time, leading to plaque, enamel wear, and mouth infections.
Do not share your toothbrush with anyone. This can also spread germs, viruses if there is even a small amount of blood on the toothbrush, and disease-causing bacteria into your mouth.
Wash your toothbrush before and after every use to keep bacteria from accumulating on the bristles.
Once every two weeks, you can also soak your toothbrush in a cup with chlorhexidine mouthwash for 15 minutes to make sure it is germ free.
Brush your teeth twice a day. Brushing your teeth is the most important part of your dental care routine. For a healthy mouth and teeth, experts recommend that you brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes with a soft-bristled toothbrush. To use a proper brushing technique:
Place your toothbrush at a 45 degree angle to the gums.
Gently move the brush back and forth in short, tooth-wide strokes. Brush the outer surfaces, inner surfaces and chewing surfaces of the teeth.
Clean the inside surfaces of the front teeth. Tilt the brush vertically and make several up-and-down strokes. For the chewing surface of your molars, start with a back and forth motion, and then continue with a repetitive circular movement.
Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and keep your breath fresh.
Choose the right floss. Flossing is one the most important steps in your dental care routine besides brushing. Commercial floss is made from synthetic nylon or plastic filaments. It is often treated with flavoring agents, such as mint or lemon, artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols, such as xylitol and mannitol, to make flossing more pleasant. They may also be waxed with beeswax or plant-based wax for ease of use. Keep in mind, however, that there is no difference in the effectiveness of waxed or unwaxed floss.
Organic flosses made from silk are still available online and in certain drugstores for people who want to avoid artificial sweeteners, plastic filaments or fluoride, but these may cost more than regular floss. Both organic and vegan flosses are packaged in plastic containers that are required by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Never use string or any other fabric to floss your teeth, as you can severely damage your teeth and gum tissue. Only dental flosses that are approved by the ADA (American Dental Association) have been tested for safety and effectiveness.
Floss your teeth regularly. Flossing at least once a day helps remove plaque from the areas between your teeth where your toothbrush can’t reach as plaque that is not removed eventually hardens into tartar and can lead to gum disease. Keep in mind that flossing may cause some discomfort at first but should not be painful either. If you floss too hard, you can damage the tissue between your teeth. With daily flossing and brushing, the discomfort should ease within a week or two. It may take a while to get used to flossing but it should slowly turn into a habit. If your pain persists, talk to your dentist. The proper steps to flossing your teeth are:
Break off about 18 inches of floss and wind most of it around one of your middle fingers. Wind the remaining floss around the same finger of the opposite hand. This finger will take up the floss as it becomes dirty.
Hold the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers.
Guide the floss between your teeth using a gentle rubbing motion. Never snap the floss into the gums.
When the floss reaches the gum line, curve it into a C shape against one tooth. Gently slide it into the space between the gum and the tooth.
Hold the floss tightly against the tooth. Gently rub the side of the tooth, moving the floss away from the gum with up and down motions. Repeat this method on the rest of your teeth. Don’t forget the back side of your last tooth. Once you’re finished, throw the floss away. A used piece of floss won’t be as effective and can reintroduce bacteria into your mouth.
You can easily inspect the floss and see the plaque collected on it. That part should be replaced with a new piece by simply rolling your fingers.
Children should start flossing their as soon as they have two or more teeth. However, since most children younger than 10 or 11 years are not able to floss properly, they should be supervised by an adult.
Use a mouthwash. Just like toothpaste, there are different types of mouthwashes that help take care of your individual oral care needs. Over-the-counter mouth rinses can help freshen your breath, strengthen enamel, loosen plaque before brushing or kill bacteria that cause gingivitis.