You hear advice everywhere you go. Brush and floss daily. Use mouthwash to fight bad breath. One out of every four dentists recommends using a Waterpik.
Dental health is very important, and as a consumer, there are a ton of options to pick from. To help make your dental hygiene routine easier, we’re going to cut through the noise with some simple suggestions about what a good routine looks like and what products you should consider using.
We’ve mentioned this before—and so did your mom—you need to brush and floss daily. (In this case, she’s right.) However, you might not realize that to brush most effectively, timing matters! You should always brush your teeth before you eat breakfast. As you sleep, your salivary glands don’t produce as much saliva, enabling bacteria to grow and thrive. If you eat before brushing, more acid will be produced because of the overnight bacterial growth.
Not everyone can fit brushing in first thing every morning. If you do decide to brush afterwards, try to wait at least 30 to 60 minutes, especially if you consume foods that contain citric acid (foods like orange juice, grapefruit, lemons, etc.). The citric acid weakens your enamel and brushing your teeth afterwards can be more damaging than beneficial.
You only need to floss once a day. It doesn’t matter what time you floss, as long as you are doing it. If flossing requires too much dexterity, or you simply don’t like it, there are other options—but we’re not saying to give it up. If you can’t or just won’t floss, try alternatives like interdental brushes or floss picks.
Go Above and Beyond
Once you’ve mastered the basics of brushing and flossing, there are additional things you can do to make sure you have a clean, healthy mouth. Number one: mouthwash. Swish a little around your mouth and you instantly feel refreshed. But mouthwash can be more than just a mid-day pick-me-up, and different types of mouthwash have different benefits.
Fluoride: This mouthwash provides an additional source of fluoride. If you use toothpaste and drink tap water containing fluoride, you probably get enough. However, your dentist may suggest using fluoride mouthwash if they see some troubled spots.
Antiseptic: More commonly used, antiseptic mouthwash (like Listerine) kills bacteria. This will help with bad breath and the prevention of gingivitis.
Another tool you can use is the Waterpik. The Waterpik shoots a small, high powered stream of water that you can use along your gumline and in between your teeth. It can be useful if you have pockets or wider gaps between your teeth. While the Waterpik is a great tool, it still isn’t a substitute for flossing.
Note: If you have braces or other fixed items in your mouth, the Waterpik is especially valuable. Braces and fixed items can trap food next to your teeth for hours after eating, giving the bacteria in plaque a feast. After eating, use the Waterpik to clean out food that is stuck in your mouth. The Waterpik is also a great option for those who need to brush but may have just had citric acid in their meal.
Since the dental market is enormous, new products and methods will always be emerging. Always do proper research before buying an item or switching your routine. A good rule of thumb to follow is to see if the product is endorsed by the American Dental Association.
Remember, the best routine is the one you’re able to follow consistently. Routines will always be different depending on the person, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to Douglas B. Weber, DDS for more information on a routine that works for you.