3 Easy Steps to Better Brushing
The best thing you can do for your oral health is to find a good dentist. But besides having a cleaning and checkup (usually performed by a hygienist and a general dentist, respectively) at least once a year, you should also follow these steps at home:
Starting with a foot to 18 inches of floss, wind each end around your middle fingers until you have 1…2 inches of taut floss in between. Then go tooth by tooth, sliding it up and down. Be sure that the floss is “hugging” the tooth all the way down to the gumline, never cutting the floss directly into your gums. This means you’ll actually go up and down twice between each tooth—once on either side of the triangle formed by your gums.
If you’re not sure what kind of toothbrush you should use, you can always ask your general dentist. Make sure your toothbrush has a small enough head that you can easily maneuver it inside your mouth, and choose bristles that are soft to medium, rather than stiff.
Brush two or three times a day for at least two minutes, and choose a toothpaste with fluoride to prevent cavities. Using a light touch (it should never feel like you’re scrubbing), make circular motions as you move along your teeth, making sure you’re brushing the gumline as well. If this is difficult, due to arthritis, or just seems tedious, you may want to consider an electric toothbrush, which does some of that work for you.
Experts disagree on the effectiveness of mouthwash, so you should always take your dentist’s advice. But generally, using a good mouthwash can fight plague, reduce the risk of gum disease and sometimes even whiten.
There’s an ongoing controversy (raging since the 1970s) over whether mouthwash is linked to oral cancer. If you’re concerned, consider a homemade rinse of simple warm saltwater. If your gums are prone to swelling, this is an easy and gentle way to soothe them.
Remember that Grandma’s saying is still true: A smile is the best cosmetic. So put as much care into brushing your teeth as you do into getting ready in the morning. You and your dentist are sure to be smiling when you come in for your next appointment.
Do you have any tips for finding a dentist? Are you a local dentist who has something to add? Share in the comments below.