Your mouth—and everything in it—is very important to your well being. Good oral hygiene is when your mouth looks and smells healthy. This means your gums are pink, your teeth are clean and free of food, and you don’t have bad breath. Good oral health makes you look and feel good, and helps you eat and speak properly.
Only flossing removes food from between your teeth. It also scrapes plaque from the surface of your teeth and from under your gums. A toothbrush just can’t do it. Plaque is a film of germs that live in your mouth and stick to your teeth. Plaque causes tooth decay and gum disease.
There are many different kinds of floss. Some is waxed and some is unwaxed. Waxed floss works better if your teeth are close together. Floss even comes in different colors and flavors! Choose one you like.
When it comes to brushing, do it the way that works for you. Just don’t scrub hard back and forth; doing that can damage your gums and tooth enamel. You should sweep or roll the brush away from your gum line. Did you know you should brush your tongue, too? It’s true! Your tongue collects bacteria and dead cells that cause gum disease and bad breath. Brushing your tongue is a very good way to keep it clean.
Choose the right toothbrush. The best ones have soft, nylon, round-ended bristles. Hard bristles can injure your gums and the enamel on your teeth. And be sure that your brush is the right size for your mouth. Small-headed brushes are better since they can reach every part of your mouth, including your back teeth. Your dentist can help you choose just the right size for you. He might even suggest you use an electric toothbrush.
Replace your brush every three or four months or when the bristles start to droop. It’s always a good idea to get a new toothbrush after you’ve had a bad cold, the flu, or strep throat, too. Thousands of germs grow on toothbrush bristles and handles. Most are harmless, but some can make you sick again, cause a gum infection, or give you a cold sore.
It’s also important that you use the right toothpaste. Select toothpaste that contains fluoride. Fluoride protects your teeth from decay. Ask your dentist which toothpaste is right for you if you’re not sure. And remember, you need only a squirt about the size of a pea to do the job right.
It’s best to brush your teeth after breakfast and at bedtime. You should floss your teeth at least once a day to remove food and plaque. If you can only floss and brush once a day, do it before bedtime. Plaque and food do the most damage at night while you sleep. After flossing, try to spend at least two minutes brushing. Remember: floss, then brush.
And lastly, see your dentist regularly. It’s a must. One visit every 6 months is usually enough to keep your teeth clean and your gums healthy.