You have likely grown up being told how important it is to see the dentist every six months. If you see the dentist twice a year, why does it matter if your at-home dental routine is a little lackluster? Isn’t a quick brush and maybe flossing enough to keep your teeth and gums in sufficient condition until the dentist does his or her deep cleaning magic?
Both regular visits to the dentist office and superb at-home dental care hygiene are necessary for optimal dental and gum health.
What is a Proper At-Home Dental Hygiene Routine?
An adequate at-home dental hygiene routine includes teeth brushing and flossing. Teeth brushing should be with a soft-bristled brush and fluoride toothpaste, twice a day, preferably in the morning and evening. The toothbrush should be changed every three months. Teeth should be brushed for a whole two minutes and in a gentle, yet firm circular motion. The gums should be gently massaged as well with the toothbrush.
Flossing is often the most ignored and overlooked part of good at-home dental hygiene. It is tedious and time-consuming and can cause irritation and bleeding to the gums. Many patients simply don’t want to do it. Proper flossing does take time. Both sides of every tooth are to be flossed and the floss should go just below the gum line.
If you don’t floss often or consistently, your gums may sensitive and get irritated and bloody when you floss.
The Importance of At-Home Dental Hygiene
A lot of things can happen in your mouth over the course of six months. These things are often bad. Each time you eat food and drink sugary drinks, particles are deposited on and between your teeth and gums. If these particles are not regularly, thoroughly rinsed out, it builds up.
These particles begin to decay and breakdown with the help of your saliva. Saliva can partially remove some of these particles, but not all. When the molecules in your saliva interact with the sugars of the particles, an acidic reaction occurs. It is the product of this reaction that creates the devastating decay of plaque. The acid breaks down the enamel of your teeth, making them weak and susceptible to further decay, breakage and even coming loose.
The tooth decay can penetrate deeper into the teeth and even spread to the tooth roots and the jaw bone underneath the protective gum layer. Severe tooth decay can result in lost teeth and weakened jaw bones.
This devastating process begins as soon as food and sugary drink particles are allowed to sit and decay in the mouth for a mere couple of hours.
If one’s teeth are not brushed before bed, for instance, the lodged particles can quickly turn into plaque and begin eating away at your tooth’s hard, protective outer surface.
Just ignoring adequate teeth brushing and flossing for one day can put your oral health at a significantly higher risk of cavities and gum disease.
Proper at-home dental hygiene lowers your chances of getting oral health issues and conditions by reducing the build-up of plaque.
While brushing and flossing should be done daily, one can reduce the risk of cavities and gum disease even more by using alcohol-free mouthwash and for brushing one’s teeth or rinsing with water after each meal or snack throughout the day.
Only your dentist can examine and treat dental health conditions and completely clean one’s teeth and gums by removing hardened plaque, which is called tartar.
If it has been longer than six months since your last dental examination and cleaning, you should schedule an appointment with your dentist today. He or she can assess how well your at-home dental care routine is and provide suggestions on improvement.