You are probably familiar with the popular New Year’s catchphrase, “New year, new me!” The beginning of a new year is a time to reset, start fresh, set goals, and drop some bad habits. Whether this year you hope to read more, spend more time with your family, or drop a few pounds, we hope you will also take stock of your oral health. You may already be in the habit of brushing your teeth twice a day, but when is the last time you considered how you are brushing your teeth? Perhaps you want to start flossing regularly but you’re not sure if you’re doing it correctly. Today we’re going back to the basics to give you some pointers and strategies on the best ways to take care of your teeth and gums.
Chances are you’ve been brushing your teeth regularly for as long as you can remember. While this is a good thing, the familiarity of this oral hygiene routine can sometimes work against you. If you brush your teeth the same exact way every day and you’re not doing it correctly, you could be putting your teeth at risk of decay and cavities. First, did you know that dentists say you should be brushing your teeth for two minutes each time? Most adults do not even come close to brushing for that long.
Another common mistake people make when brushing their teeth is brushing too hard. When it comes to brushing, harder does not equal cleaner. In fact, brushing too hard can cause damage to the gums around your teeth. To use the correct technique when brushing, hold the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle and gently move the toothbrush back and forth. Make sure to clean the outside and inside of the teeth, as well as the chewing surface of the teeth. Consider using a timer or stopwatch to ensure you are brushing for a full two minutes. While two minutes will feel very long at first, once you get in the habit, chances are you won’t even have to time it anymore. For an extra clean mouth, at the end of your time gently brush the surface of your tongue, too.
While it’s not necessary to floss after every meal, dentists do recommend flossing once a day. Even if you are diligent about brushing for two minutes twice a day, there are food particles that can’t always be reached by a toothbrush. Flossing once a day will help protect your mouth from plaque, cavities, and gum disease.
To ensure you are flossing correctly, try following these three simple steps:
- Pull out approximately 18 inches of floss from the floss dispenser.
- Wrap the floss tightly around your middle fingers.
- Gently move the floss between each tooth, creating a C-shape with the floss. Make sure to move the floss back and forth and up and down before moving to the next section.
You may experience some slight discomfort, and even mild bleeding, if flossing is a new thing for you. However, after a few days of flossing regularly, this should subside. Just like any new habit, at first this may feel hard and laborious, but pretty soon you won’t even think about it.
The last step to having a healthy mouth is making sure to visit your dentist every six months for a routine checkup and professional cleaning. Not only will your teeth receive a special cleaning and shine, but your dentist will be able to check for any potential issues and resolve any problems or concerns before they become more serious.
If you’re looking to make some positive changes in your oral health this year and are looking for a family dentist here in Nashville, we would love to help you at Cornerstone Family Dentistry. Please make an appointment with us today!