Do These 5 Things to Help Improve Your Dental Routine
Freshen up your daily oral care and brighten your smile with these expert tips
Choose an electric toothbrush
They may be pricier than a manual brush, but you can’t beat electric toothbrushes for cleaning power and ease of use, says Dr. David Stevenson, president of the Ontario Dental Association. Many models come with a timer that makes sure you do the required two minutes of brushing, and a smaller head helps clean hard-to-reach spots. “It’s just easier to do a good job of brushing with an electric brush,” he says. “The toothbrush does the work for you, while you just hold it in position.” Sonic toothbrushes blast away plaque with high-frequency vibrations, and create effervescence, or tiny air bubbles, in your mouth. “Bacteria hate oxygen, so this can really help with gum disease,” Stevenson says.
Brush smarter with this simple technique
Many brushers only sweep over the biting surfaces of their teeth and forget the part where plaque builds up the most—at the gumline. “I tell my patients to brush their gums,” Stevenson says. “Chances are, you’ll get your teeth at the same time.” When plaque stays on your teeth for too long, it hardens into tartar. When tartar builds above the gumline, it can lead to gingivitis or a more serious condition called periodontitis, where the attachment of the tooth and its surrounding tissues starts to break down.
Floss with old-school technology
The first dental floss was invented over 200 years ago, and since then, nothing has bested it for dislodging food particles from between your teeth. “When the floss breaks through the contact between your teeth, you hear that little click,” Stevenson says. “There isn’t anything else that can clean in there.” Electric water or air flossers might work if you have wide spaces between all your teeth, he says, but for most people, traditional floss is the best way to go. If you haven’t got the manual dexterity to work the floss held between your fingers, disposable flossing wands (that look like tiny tuning forks) can be a game-changer.
Choose the right mouthwash for your mouth
If your oral health is fairly good, mouthwash isn’t strictly necessary, Stevenson says, though many people enjoy the bracing menthol freshness. Those with severe gum disease may need an anti-microbial rinse after brushing, and anyone taking medication that dries out the mouth needs an alcohol-free mouthwash to keep tooth decay at bay.
Choose toothpaste with fluoride
Natural health products are booming in popularity, but they aren’t necessarily better for your dental health. Many natural toothpastes—containing baking soda, salt, or even clay and charcoal—are marketed as healthier because they’re fluoride-free, but fluoride is the only clinically proven ingredient that prevents tooth decay, Stevenson says. “Natural toothpastes will clean off plaque and freshen your breath, but they won’t fight cavities,” he explains. Some brands of natural toothpaste do contain fluoride, however, so they could be a better option if you’re looking for the best of both worlds.
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