Together, general dentistry and good dental hygiene practices keep our teeth and gums healthy. But, even the most diligent brushers and flossers might be missing something important in their oral care routine. And missing even the little things can make a huge difference in the health and strength of your smile.
At Lakewood Dental Group, we enhance your dental hygiene practices with comprehensive dental cleanings and exams. If you’re due for a cleaning, then don’t wait–schedule your appointment now. Patients can reach our Dallas, TX, dental office by calling (214) 827-1885 or by contacting us online here.
Meanwhile, let’s discuss dental hygiene, why it’s so important, and six ways to get better at it. Even simple changes could lead to a healthier, brighter smile!
What is dental hygiene?
Dental hygiene (also called oral hygiene) is a set of practices that keep the teeth and gums healthy and clean. Typically, dentists consider twice-daily brushing and once-daily flossing adequate dental hygiene. But, even minimal oral hygiene practices are far better than no practices at all.
Why is daily dental hygiene important?
Practicing good dental hygiene every day is important because it prevents the buildup of food debris and bacteria (collectively known as plaque) on the teeth.
Plaque is harmful to our oral health because it wears away at our protective tooth enamel, which can result in decay (cavities). If left untreated, cavities will spread to other teeth and, eventually, the overgrowth of bacteria in the mouth will lead to gum disease.
Nearly half of all adults aged 30 or older in the United States have some form of gum disease. And with gum disease being the leading cause of tooth loss among adults, it’s no wonder that almost 120 million Americans are missing at least one of their natural teeth.
Without good dental hygiene, it’s nearly impossible to have a healthy mouth. But, did you know that an unhealthy mouth could lead to an unhealthy body, too? Research suggests that there is an intrinsic link between oral health and overall health. This means that disease and dysfunction in the mouth could be causing systemic issues, such as:
- High blood pressure
- Pregnancy complications
- Respiratory issues
- Kidney disease
So, why is dental hygiene so important? It’s important because, without it, we can’t be our healthiest, happiest selves. And because it is so important, Dr. Mihir Patel and Dr. Shaun Sigurdson are here to discuss six ways that you can take your dental hygiene routine to the next level.
Six Ways to Practice Good Dental Hygiene
You might be thinking, “I already brush and floss every day. What more could I possibly be doing?” Here, our team will explore simple ways to get the most out of your oral hygiene routine.
1. Brush with a Soft-bristled Toothbrush Only
Did you know that toothbrushes come in different varieties of stiffness? While there are some practical applications for hard- and medium-bristled toothbrushes, dentists recommend that patients only use a soft-bristled toothbrush to clean their teeth or dental restorations.
Stiffer bristles can create tiny scratches (known as microabrasions) on the teeth, which weakens tooth enamel. And when tooth enamel is weak, oral bacteria can penetrate the dentin and pulp underneath, leading to cavities.
Soft-bristled toothbrushes are not stiff enough to scratch tooth enamel, making them a smile-friendly option. When in doubt, always choose a softer toothbrush!
2. Use a Mineral-building Toothpaste
Obviously, our tooth enamel is important. So, when our enamel gets thinner, it’s crucial to supply our teeth with the materials they need to remineralize.
Typically, our bodies use nutrients from our food to remineralize worn teeth, but there are other ways that we can help strengthen our tooth enamel. Mineral-building toothpastes (like fluoride-containing or nano-hydroxyapatite toothpastes) deliver tooth-strengthening ingredients straight to the source, which helps our teeth remineralize faster and better.
3. Don’t Forget to Brush Your Tongue
Even if you brush and floss after every meal, a bacteria-laden tongue might be offsetting your best efforts. The tongue harbors millions of bacteria that lead to cavities, gum disease, and even bad breath.
If you’re neglecting your tongue every time you brush your teeth, you may not be getting your cleanest, healthiest smile. So, try using a tongue scraper to gently scrape debris from the tongue during your dental hygiene routine.
4. Find the Right Floss for You
Flossing is one of the hardest dental hygiene practices to commit to. It often gets ignored, but it is just as important as brushing. So, how can we prioritize flossing without making it feel like a chore? Simple! Find a floss that works for you.
If you avoid flossing because traditional floss hurts your fingers, then try interdental flossers or a water pick. These devices free your fingers from tight strings, which leads to a more comfortable and enjoyable flossing experience.
5. Try Using Mouthwash
Many patients question the effectiveness of mouthwashes, but they can be a helpful addition to your dental hygiene routine. In fact, mouthwashes can help with a variety of oral health issues, including:
- Dry mouth
- Bad breath
- Tooth sensitivity
- Thin tooth enamel
While using mouthwash alone is not enough to maintain ideal dental hygiene, it is a good supplemental tool to facilitate optimal oral health. Just be sure to use a high-quality mouthwash that is free from sugar and alcohol.
6. Schedule Regular Dental Cleanings
Dental hygiene practices help us maintain good oral health in between dental cleanings. But, although daily brushing and flossing may prevent cavities and gum disease, nothing is quite as beneficial as a thorough dental cleaning.
Therefore, dental professionals recommend visiting a qualified Lakewood dentist at least twice a year (or every six months) for a routine exam and cleaning. However, if you are prone to cavities or have active gum disease, then quarterly exams and cleanings might be necessary. Our dedicated team will help you figure out a dental cleaning schedule that works for you!
Schedule a dental cleaning and exam now!
Practicing good dental hygiene can help you keep your smile healthy, beautiful, and bright for life. But, don’t stop at daily brushing and flossing–schedule a comprehensive dental cleaning and exam for optimal oral health.
Patients can schedule their appointment by calling (214) 827-1885 or by sending our team a secure message online here.