At-home dental hygiene is one of the top dental preventive measures recommended by dentists. Brushing your teeth, flossing, and using mouthwash to kill bad bacteria are all great self-care habits to help prevent cavities and promote overall oral health.
However, many dental patients can be overzealous, misinformed, or even forgetful when it comes to dental health, any of which can lead to less-than-ideal hygiene habits. Here are four mistakes to avoid in your personal dental hygiene routine.
1. Getting the Timing Wrong
The timing of your tooth-brushing can go wrong in several different ways. First, you could brush your teeth too quickly, giving them only a partial cleaning each time you brush. But you can also cause or exacerbate problems if you brush your teeth too soon after a meal.
Food, especially very acidic or sugary food, starts trying to break down your enamel once it hits your teeth. Acids such as citrus fruits can weaken the teeth's enamel, and the bacteria on your teeth turn sugars into acids, creating an even more corrosive environment. This bacterial growth can lead to bad breath as well.
Rinsing with a mouthwash that will neutralize the PH in your mouth so that it's not acidic can help counteract this effect. Chewing a piece of gum may also help by encouraging your mouth to make more saliva. Then after giving your teeth at least twenty to thirty minutes to recover from the effects of the acid, brush them to help remove the bacteria and plaque.
2. Skipping a Day
Sometimes there will be days when you're just too sick to brush, such as when you're down and out with the flu. But even if you feel like skipping, try to swipe that brush around in your mouth at least once. Your teeth won't all rot out overnight, but plaque only takes about a day or two to start hardening and turning into tartar.
Once a little tartar has gathered on your teeth it won't come off until your next dental visit, meaning it can just sit there for weeks or months harboring cavity-causing bacteria. In this scenario, keeping your teeth clean will be more of a struggle. So the more faithful you are with brushing habits, the less tartar will be able to form and the easier cavity prevention will be.
3. Brushing Too Hard
If you have a lot of crevices in your chewing surfaces, you may be tempted to scrub harder in order to make sure you get down inside all the crannies. Instead, choose a toothbrush designed to clean inside grooves and chinks. And instead of using a harsh scrubbing motion, gently brush your teeth and gums with soft, circular motions.
4. Quitting Fluoride Toothpaste
In extreme cases, fluoride toothpaste could be all that stands between you and a mouth full of cavities. If you're worried you're getting more fluoride than you need, consult your doctor. The topical application of fluoride is the most beneficial to teeth, so consider filtering the fluoride out of your drinking water instead of changing toothpastes. If you don't swallow your toothpaste and don't have a fluoride allergy, it's unlikely to have any negative effects.
These four mistakes can all cause problems that could lead to cavities, sensitivity, gum disease, or other problems. If you suspect any of these mistakes apply to you, talk to your dentist about how you can improve your routine's effectiveness.
For a dental appointment in Sonora, California, get in touch with Dr. Jeffrey S Mika, D.D.S. today to schedule a visit. We welcome new patients and walk-ins and would love to help you keep your beautiful smile.