Properly caring for your teeth at home is one of the surest ways you can prevent tooth decay, gum disease and overall damage to your teeth. There are factors that may affect your home-care routine. For instance, if you have arthritis or if the use of your hands is impaired in any way, you will have trouble holding a tooth-brush and your dentist might recommend an electronic toothbrush to make brushing easier.
The following should constitute your daily dental home-care routine:
You should brush your teeth twice daily, once in the morning and once in the evening and always use fluoride toothpaste for effective control against tartar.
Your toothbrush should have soft bristles with a rounded end. The head of your toothbrush should be small enough to allow it to reach all areas of your mouth.
If you use an electric toothbrush, make sure it’s certified by the American Dental Association. Studies have shown that electric toothbrushes clean your teeth through rotation and oscillation and clean your teeth better than other toothbrushes.
When brushing, your toothbrush should touch your teeth at a 45-degree angle. Press firmly against the teeth and brush with gentle circular movements. Avoid using a scrubbing motion as this could cause your gums to pull away from your teeth and also cause your tooth enamel to scratch.
Make sure you get the surface of every tooth, including the tongue and the insides of your cheeks. Pay extra attention when brushing the inside of the front teeth and the surfaces of your back teeth.
When brushing your tongue, start from the back and proceed to the front. Using toothpaste when brushing your tongue will help to remove plaque which is responsible for bad breath and the growth of bacteria.
To check whether you have any plaque left on your teeth, chew on a disclosing tablet. If your teeth have plaque, it will color those areas.
Flossing should also be part of your daily dental home care routine. You should floss your teeth at least once a day. To floss, use the following methods:
- The finger-wrapping method: Wrap a piece of dental floss that’s at least 20 inches (50 cm) long, around your two middle fingers, until your hands are at least 2 to 3 inches (5 to 8 cm) apart. Run the floss in between your teeth and holding it into a U-shape, gently scrape the sides of your teeth several times to get off the plaque. Clean around each tooth under the gum line.
- The loop method: Tie together the ends of a piece of dental floss that’s 12 inches (30 cm) long, so that you form a loop. Hold the loop in both hands and forming a U-shape around each tooth, slide it up and down to scrape off all the plaque.
You can also use a plastic tool for flossing, as it makes the process easier. Electric interdental devices or brushes are another option and are meant to reach areas in between your teeth.
If your gums bleed when you floss, you should notice it less and less as your gums continue to get healthier around your teeth.
Other ways to take care of your teeth at home
- Eating a healthy diet: Proper nutrition is important for healthy teeth and gums. You should eat a balanced diet, avoid sugars and avoid eating snacks before you go to bed.
- Quit smoking: Tobacco causes bad breath, stained teeth and increases the likelihood of getting gum disease and mouth cancer.