You can do this by reinvigorating your oral hygiene routine beyond the basics. As a practicing dentist, I recommend incorporating the following upgrades to your oral care. It will help minimize unpleasant and expensive dentist visits, which is the last thing you want to do—especially right now.
Improve your daily nutrition habits
Now is not the time to snack on gummy bears during your Zoom calls. Many dental ailments are, in fact, preventable with proper nutrition and oral hygiene. The mouth is the beginning of the digestive tract and where foods are first broken down into their primary building blocks. Most foods are proteins, fats, or carbohydrates at the basic level. Because bacteria in our mouth digest carbohydrates or simple sugars into an acid that weakens your enamel, you can help reduce this process by starving the bacteria from their food source. In other words, avoid excess sugars and carbohydrates.
Invest in an electric toothbrush—and proper brushing technique
Brushing is something we all do, or at least know we should do. However, it is very common to miss large areas of your teeth while brushing. To avoid these simple mistakes, I recommend using an electric brush, which comes with a timer that reminds you to spend 30 seconds brushing in each quadrant of your mouth.
You want to angle the brush tip towards the base of the tooth, where it meets the gums. Use soft, circular strokes. Luckily, many surfaces of the teeth are self-cleansing, but debris can accumulate rapidly near the gum line. Of course, there is nothing I want more than for you to be enthusiastic about brushing, but be careful not to brush so hard that you injure your gums. Imagine that you are brushing a tomato, but you don’t want to puncture the skin. That may not seem like a lot, but that’s all the force you need.
Brush at least twice a day to help remove the sticky layer known as plaque. Plaque is a slime layer containing bacteria, and if left on the tooth, it can solidify into tartar.
Get into the habit of flossing not once, but twice a day
Flossing is the next line of defense against gum disease and caries, aka cavities. Flossing not only removes debris between the teeth, but also stimulates the gums and removes plaque. The most effective technique for flossing is wrapping the floss into a “C-shape” around each tooth like a hug—you really get into all the angles and sides that way!
If your gums start bleeding when you floss, you should not stop—but you should be aware that the bleeding is a sign of gingivitis, which is reversible once the gums strengthen and bacteria is reduced. Floss at least twice a day to avoid costly and uncomfortable conditions like this in the future!
Clean your tongue
Cleaning your tongue is probably not in your arsenal of oral hygiene techniques, but it should be. The tongue accumulates debris just like your teeth and gums do, and if you are not removing that layer of organic matter, it just decomposes on your tongue. That’s how you get bad breath. But even if you have great breath, you should still commit to cleaning your tongue. The debris is still there, and will decompose if you don’t remove it.
Oral care is self-care—so take advantage of this time to establish lifelong healthy routines for a healthy and beautiful smile. There are brighter days ahead.
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