Starting in early elementary school, kids are taught how to take care of their teeth. As they grow into adults, a lot of that information is forgotten. Many adults know that they should clean their teeth, but are unclear on what the proper steps are to keep their smile healthy and cavity-free. Here is an easy-to-use guide to help you clean your mouth the right way.
Begin with Brushing
The first mistake most people make when brushing is they do not spend long enough doing it. The recommended time to brush is at least two minutes in the morning and two minutes in the evening. While this sounds like a short amount of time, most people only brush 45-60 seconds. Erring on the side of too much time is not ideal either. Brushing too often or for too long will damage the enamel, or the protective layer, on your teeth.
There are many free apps available to help track the amount of time you brush. Most spin brushes or electronic toothbrushes come with timers built into them, beeping or pausing every 30 seconds to tell you to change sections in your mouth.
Aside from the right amount of time, your technique is also important. Follow these steps for proper brushing procedure:
· Keep your brush at an angle and start at the gum line. Brush the top of your teeth with circular or sweeping motions in a motion that moves away from the gum line. This helps pull germs away from the area.
· Do not push too hard. Gentle, short strokes are the most effective at cleaning.
· Move through the mouth in a way that ensures every spot is cleaned. An example would be to brush the outer surface, then the inner, and finally the chewing surface of each portion of the mouth before moving on to another area.
· Brush the gums in circular motion to help clean them and reduce chances of gum disease.
· Finally, finish up with brushing your tongue. This cleans up lingering bacteria and freshens breath.
Once you find a good system for brushing, you will naturally slip into the proper way of brushing.
Since brushing can not reach every area of your teeth, it's very important that you floss each time you brush. This is vital in preventing cavities and gum disease. Here are the steps to doing a proper flossing:
· Have a long enough strand of floss, approximately 12-18 inches long.
· Wrap most of the string around two fingers, with 1-2 inches to use for flossing.
· Using pressure from your thumb and fingers not holding floss, rub the floss back and forth to guide it easily between teeth.
· Scrape the sides of both teeth, clear down to the gum line
· Rub the top of the gums between the teeth
· Move back and forth while pulling up to finish the process
· Use a clean area of floss for each tooth space.
As you can see, this is more than just about going up and down between the teeth. Take time to make sure you are cleaning the sides of your teeth.
Making the Most out of Mouthwash
While not every dental professional feels this step is necessary, using a good mouthwash that is anti-microbial will help protect your teeth and prevent gum disease. Mouthwash will kill any extra germs in the mouth and remove any particles left behind from flossing.
To use mouthwash correctly, always follow the directions on the bottle. If you find that mouthwashes from the dental care aisle at the store are not working well enough, there are prescription-grade rinses available. Talk to your dentist to get a prescription if you prefer that route.
Now that you know the proper techniques to keeping your mouth healthy, the most important thing to do is make it a part of your routine. It's never too late to start taking care of your teeth. Do not forget to visit your dentist twice a year to get professional cleanings too. These steps help you have strong and healthy teeth, which is really something to smile about.