A Complete Guide to Good Oral Hygiene [Tips & Best Practices]

Taking care of your teeth and gums does more than just save you money at the dentist. Good oral health can prevent many health issues. This is your complete guide to show you the benefits of good oral hygiene and how you can have a healthy mouth.

Why You Should Care About Your Oral Health

Studies show that half of the population doesn’t understand why you should practice good oral health. These same studies also show that most people don’t know the basic steps to proper oral hygiene. Many people wait until they’re in pain to go to the dentist.

Regular check-ups at the dentist is a vital step to maintaining good oral health. The dentist will remove plaque and tartar before it causes tooth decay. Your dentist will also be able to spot small cavities and take care of them before the decay erodes through the enamel into the softer dentin layer of your teeth. It’s also important to make sure you’re properly taking care of your teeth and gums on a daily basis to prevent problems.

The Importance of Good Oral Care

Nearly 50% of Americans have gum disease. A small part of this can be blamed on genetics or other factors but for most Americans, gum disease is completely preventable. Here are a few of the many reasons you should take care of your mouth.

Good Oral Hygiene Prevents Bad Breath

bad breath

Every time you eat, a small amount of food particles gets trapped in your teeth. These particles will promote bacterial growth on your teeth, gums, and tongue. These bacteria cause toxins to form which will eventually lead to gum disease.

If you take care of your mouth then these food particles will not have a chance to encourage bacterial growth. You can see how daily oral care will prevent gum disease that causes bad breath.

Good Oral Hygiene Prevents Tooth Decay

Plaque is a sticky substance that can build up along your gum line, between your teeth, in pits found in your molars, or around fillings. Plaque can change the starches found in food into acid. This acid erodes your enamel and causes pits that are an entryway for tooth decay.

Proper brushing and flossing will help prevent plaque build up. Regular cleanings at the dentist will remove plaque before it has a chance to cause tooth decay.

Good Oral Health Prevents Health Problems

If you have gum disease, then every time you brush or floss a small number of bacteria gets into your bloodstream. This bacteria then travels around your body and is deposited in areas where it can cause arterial plaque and form clots.

Your body also produces a chemical reaction in response to inflammation. These chemicals circulate in your blood and can cause problems all over your body such as:

  • Heart disease: People with gum disease are twice as likely to have heart disease and it increases your risk for stroke
  • Diabetes: Inflammation in your mouth can make diabetes worse and make it harder for you to keep your blood sugar levels under control. At the same time, diabetes increases inflammation in your body, including your mouth
  • Preterm labor: Pregnant women are at a higher risk for gum disease and inflammation in your mouth has been linked to an increased risk of preterm labor and lower birth weight
  • Lung health: Studies also show a link between periodontal disease and an increased risk for certain types of pneumonia and other lung diseases
  • Arthritis: Those with rheumatoid arthritis are 8 times more likely to have gum disease

These are just a few of the health problems scientist are starting to discover that are linked to your oral health.

How to Practice Good Oral Hygiene

brushing teeth

By now, you probably understand why you need to practice good oral health! But, what is considered good oral hygiene? These are a few of the steps you can take to ensure you have a healthy mouth.

Stop Using Tobacco Products

smoking stains

Smoking weakens your body’s immune system and makes it harder to fight off gum disease. Smoking has also been proven to have some of the following effects on your oral health:

  • Increases your risk of gum disease by twofold
  • Lowers your body’s ability to heal inflamed gums
  • Your risk for gum disease goes up with the more you smoke

Smoking isn’t the only form of tobacco that leads to gum disease. Chewing tobacco not only increases your risk for gum disease but also your risk for developing cavities.

Avoid Sugary Beverages and Foods

watch what you eat and drink

When the bacteria in your mouth comes into contact with sugar it produces acid which can eat away at your enamel. Sticky candy will stick to your teeth for longer and will increase the amount of enamel erosion. You’ll also want to avoid fruit juice as some contain acid stronger than stomach acid.

One of the worst beverages for your teeth is soda. Not only does it contain a large amount of sugar to feed the bacteria but it also has a high acid level. Drinking water helps to remove bacteria and food particles from your teeth and is not acidic.

Take Care of Your Teeth and Gums

Even if you watch what you consume and don’t use tobacco products, it’s still important to take care of your teeth. Proper oral care will help remove bacteria and food particles that lead to plaque formation. Proper oral care includes:

  • Regular dental check-ups every 6 months
  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day for 2 minutes each time
  • Use a fluoride toothpaste and replace your toothbrush or brush head every 3 months
  • Use an antibacterial mouth rinse in the morning and before bed
  • Floss your teeth daily
  • Drink the recommended amount of water daily
  • Chewing sugarless gum helps stimulate saliva production which neutralizes acid and coats your teeth in a protective calcium layer

What are the Long Term Benefits of Good Oral Hygiene?

What are some of the reasons you want to take care of your teeth and gums? For many, it’s to make sure you don’t have bad breath. But, did you know there are many other benefits to taking care of your mouth? Here are some of the benefits you’ll see for years to come if you practice good oral hygiene.

Good Oral Hygiene Will Save You Money

good oral hygiene saves you money

Gum disease and tooth decay can become expensive. If you don’t take care of your teeth then you’ll find yourself shelling out money every time you’re at the dentist to pay for fillings. If you leave cavities untreated they will only get worse.

Unchecked tooth decay will lead to more expensive treatments such as root canals or implants. Another problem with bad oral health is gum disease. If left untreated, gum disease will lead to periodontal disease which can cause loss of teeth.

Good Oral Hygiene Will Help You Have A Healthier Lifestyle

We’ve all heard over and over how we need to exercise and eat healthier if you want to live a longer, better life. But, have you heard that you also need to take care of your teeth to live a healthier life?

A healthy mouth will affect the entire body. Preventing gum disease and inflammation in your mouth is one of the first and best steps you can take to preventing many other health issues.

Good Oral Hygiene Will Boost Your Confidence

self confidence

Your smile is one of the first things many people will notice about you. Taking care of your teeth and gums will give you a brighter, whiter smile. Good oral health can also prevent embarrassing bad breath. If you do have bad breath or surface stains then starting a good oral health regimen now can help reverse the effects of poor dental hygiene.

Daily Practices to Take Care of Your Teeth

Besides ensuring you go to the dentist regularly, good oral health starts with your daily habits. These are a few things to keep in mind that you can do to ensure you have a healthy mouth.

Pick Your Teeth

Soft-picks are an effective alternative to flossing. You can carry these around with you and use them after you eat to remove food particles that are stuck between your teeth. Quickly removing these food particles will help reduce plaque build up.

Brush Your Teeth

teeth brushing

Optimally, you should brush your teeth after every meal. However, this is not feasible for most people. Dentists recommend brushing your teeth at least twice a day for a minimum for 2 minutes at each brushing. Here are some things to consider to make sure you’re brushing the right way:

  • Hold your brush at a slight angle and make gentle circular motions
  • Spend at least 30 seconds in each of the 4 quadrants of your mouth
  • Make sure you brush along the gum line, on the outside and inside of your teeth and the top of your molars
  • Don’t forget to brush your tongue
  • Keep your toothbrush stored upright, in a clean place. Avoid storing it in an airtight container where bacteria or mold can grow
  • Replace your toothbrush or brush head every 3 months

Longer brushing helps to break up the bacteria that cling to your teeth. Also, make sure you use a fluoride toothpaste and make the switch to an electric toothbrush if you haven’t already. Studies show that using an electric toothbrush is more effective at removing plaque.

Floss Your Teeth

woman using string floss

You should floss your teeth every day. If you have a hard time with traditional floss you can use a water flosser, which uses a fine stream of pressurized water to break up and remove food debris from between your teeth. Here are a few tips when you floss:

  • Floss between each tooth and around the back of the last 4 molars
  • There are many options out there so if the traditional string doesn’t work for you, don’t give up. Keep searching until you find something that works for you
  • Don’t stop if your gums start to bleed

Drink Water

Water helps remove bacteria and debris from your teeth. It also keeps your mouth moist, which helps to lower the acid level.

Watch What You Consume

A healthy diet helps your body’s immune response which aids in reducing inflammation in your mouth. You’ll want to reduce the amount of sugar you consume and try to avoid sugary and acidic beverages.

When Should You Call the Dentist?

regular dental trips

Besides going in every 6 months for a check-up, there are a few other warning signs to look for that tell you something is wrong with your teeth or gums. If you notice any of the following then you need to schedule an appointment to have a professional take a look:

  • Gums become tender, red, or swollen
  • You develop difficulty swallowing
  • Changes in the way your teeth align
  • You feel loose adult teeth
  • Mouth sores that won’t heal
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Changes in how your dentures fit

It might be tempting to ignore problems in your mouth. But always remember, that early treatment is key to preventing problems from getting bigger.

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