Could you imagine smiling without teeth? Your teeth do a fantastic job every day of completing your smile so you look your best. They actually do a lot for you.
Your teeth help you speak properly so that you can have confidence communicating with those around you in your day-to-day interactions. Not to mention they are necessary for you to be able bite and chew your food so your body can be healthy and strong.
In fact, not a day goes by that you don’t rely on your pearly whites for one thing or another. Whether it’s enjoying a meal with your loved ones, smiling at a friend, or speaking to a coworker in-person or over Zoom, your teeth work hard to serve you.
It’s only fair that you do your part to care for them to ensure their continued good health (and yours!) while they keep you functioning like a boss.
Caring for Your Teeth Like Your Life Depends on It (Because It Kinda Does)
Did you know that your overall health is linked to the health of your gums? That’s right. A study in 1954 showed how the bacteria from gum disease (aka periodontal disease) frequently enters the bloodstream and quickly spreads throughout the entire body.
Since then periodontal disease has been linked to a number of major health conditions such as:
- Heart Disease
- Respiratory Disease
- Kidney Disease
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Pregnancy Complications
- A Variety of Cancers
The reason, in simplest terms, is because periodontal disease is an inflammatory disease process. This results in inflammation throughout the entire body.
The Skinny on Good Oral Health
If you want healthy gums & good health you’ve got to keep that bacteria that causes system-wide inflammation at bay.
There’s two very important pieces to the equation. Piece number one is seeing the dentist regularly & completing recommended treatment. Aka you go when you’re told to go & get the services your teeth need. If a dental professional is telling you to have your teeth cleaned every 3 months, then that’s when you need to be seen. If you choose to wait or forgo treatment all together, you’re risking that bacteria getting into your blood stream. Not to mention the progression of tooth decay.
The second piece is your health habits. Of course genetics can play a part, but you still have a lot of control with preventing things from getting worse or even starting in the first place. You can get strict about the types of foods you consume (as some are not teeth friendly), but simply establishing the proper at-home oral health routine is one of the best (not to mention simplest) things you can do.
What Does The Best Home Care Routine Look Like for Healthy Teeth & Gums?
We know you’ve heard it a thousand times to brush and floss your teeth daily. But surprisingly, there is a right way to do those.
So, today we’re going to tell you the complete process, from start to finish. And everything you need to know when it comes to ensuring that you have a stellar oral health home care routine.
Flossing Like a Pro
Flossing is able to reach bacteria that your toothbrush can’t. There are pockets around your teeth (and you want to keep these pockets small by disrupting the bacteria).
While flossing and brushing work together to keep you healthy, flossing really helps you keep periodontal disease at bay.
Some people put off flossing because their gums are tender or bleed. You should know: bleeding & tenderness is not normal and it’s a signal from your body that the progression of periodontal disease is happening.
But don’t dispair. As you stay consistent in the routine that we’re laying out here (and go to your regular dental visits) the bleeding & tenderness should subside with time.
How to floss properly?
When you floss there are two gum pockets that you must get in a single tooth crevice — because there’s the pocket on each tooth. So make your floss taut. Slide it up against the side of one tooth all the way to the gum. Then slide it down, and back up the tooth right next to it.
Wipe or rinse the floss off when you’re using a single-handed flosser after each crevice. If you’re using a string of floss, move to a new section of floss for every tooth crevice.
You don’t want to introduce bacteria into other tooth pockets, so keep your floss clean.
When should you floss?
Dr. Powell recommends that you floss before you brush. And you should floss once a day. You can choose whether you prefer to do it in the morning, afternoon, or evening. That part is up to you and what would work best with your lifestyle.
What floss should you use?
We recommend Glide, as it’s strong and won’t break as you go — but brands are really a personal preference. We just care that you floss! However, if you’re really serious about taking care of your teeth and gums, Dr. Powell recommends upgrading your dental floss to a Hydrofloss.
Which you use before you brush to clean between teeth, under the gums, and around dental appliances like braces to clear off plaque and food particles. It does all this by directing a stream of water into hard to reach crevices like a mini car wash for your teeth.
Best part: you don’t need to use traditional floss anymore as this replaces it!
Brushing for the Win
As we’ve mentioned already, flossing and brushing are both necessary. And while brushing definitely helps with periodontal disease, it’s really the first line of defense for cavities!
Cavities form in about 48 hours, and just in case you missed a spot (which it’s pretty likely that you did), you want to make sure that you are removing that bacteria in a timely manner.
How to brush properly?
When it comes to brushing your teeth you want to make sure that you are getting all three surfaces (and the backside of your back teeth).
There’s the facial surface, the chewing surface, and the tongue-side surface.
Create a map in your mind to ensure that you aren’t just haphazardly moving the toothbrush around. Divide your mouth into four sections, by starting the divide in between your two front teeth. So you’ll end up with a top left section & right section, and a lower left section & right section.
You need to spend about 30 seconds in each section, for a total of 2 minutes brushing your teeth.
There was a 2012 review of 59 papers published in International Journal of Dental Hygiene, which revealed some pretty interesting findings. People who brushed for one minute removed only about 27 percent of plaque on average. However, when people brushed for two minutes, they removed around 41 percent of the plaque on their teeth — which is almost twice as much!
When it comes to your brushing technique, move your tooth brush in a circular motion vs. back and forth motion. Hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle towards the gum line and use that circular motion. You can let your toothbrush touch your gums, just don’t be super aggressive. Be gentle so that you do not cause gum recession.
When should you brush your teeth?
At a minimum, you need to brush your teeth in the morning and at night. So that means, twice a day. If you have braces, or consume sugary drinks/food then you should consider brushing after meals.
If you like to brush your teeth, you can brush your teeth more than twice a day. More power to you!
Which toothbrushes should you use?
You always want to choose a soft bristled toothbrush. Most people are a little heavy handed when it comes to brushing their teeth. It’s the gums that will suffer when you use a hard bristled toothbrush.
It’s also important to choose a toothbrush that fits your mouth and teeth. (Yes, toothbrushes come in different sizes.)
Manual toothbrushes are fine and they’ll get the job done, but Dr. Powell recommends that you switch to an electric toothbrush, specifically Sonicare. We have an entire post dedicated to the benefits of Sonicare (as the benefits are plentiful), but the bottom line is that they do a much better job while making it easier for you.
The other thing about toothbrushes that many people seem to neglect is that you need to replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months (or when the bristles become frayed). As well as after being sick to get rid of lingering germs.
Upgrade Your Home Care Tools
Ok, so you know that you can upgrade your toothbrush by switching to a Sonicare and you can upgrade your floss by using a Hydrofloss, but did you know that you can use a better toothpaste?
Cavity Fighting Toothpaste
Upgrade your regular toothpaste to a professional-grade fluoride toothpaste like Fluoridex, which Dr. Powell whole-heartedly recommends for our dental patients. This tooth-friendly paste provides powerful protection against cavities, tooth decay and tooth sensitivity.
Fight Periodontal Disease
If you’ve been diagnosed with periodontal disease, then you already know what kind of epic battle it is. However, one thing that you can add to your home care routine that significantly helps you gain ground on the fight against the bacteria is Perio Protect®.
Perio Protect uses custom-fitted trays to administer bacteria-killing medicine into the deep tooth pockets.
To Sum It All Up
Caring for your teeth isn’t hard, but it is a lifelong commitment which requires consistency. If you want to look and feel your best, a healthy smile is a must!
There’s two essential pieces to good oral health. One piece is what us dental professionals do when you come to see us, but the other and equally important piece, is what you’re doing at home.
Establish a routine where you properly floss your teeth daily and properly brush your teeth twice daily for a minimum of 2 minutes.
Seriously consider upgrading your tools to make your job at home easy and much more effective.
Questions about your smile? Feel free to call us at (661) 349-7725 or schedule a dental visit online. Dr. James Powell and our Exceptional Dentistry Team in Palmdale, CA are always here for you and your family to create a lifetime of healthy smiles.