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.
Flossing: In or Out?
It’s been six months since your last teeth cleaning. You arrive at your appointment and get called to head to the back by your hygienist. As she begins cleaning your teeth, she asks the question we all dread. “How often do you floss?” If you’re like many people, you might stretch the truth, or justify telling a white lie since you DID use a toothpick after dinner a few nights back.
Maybe now—lucky you!–you won’t have to answer that question any longer. Just recently the USDA and Department of Health and Human Services stated that flossing has been not been proven to be effective, and removed it from their dietary guidelines.
Well, slow down, my friend. You’re not off the hook just yet.
While this bold statement is technically true, there are still a few things to consider. First, the guidelines don’t say that flossing is bad or ineffective; they’re just saying there isn’t enough evidence in studies to prove it does help. The difference may feel like a matter of semantics, so for your own peace of mind, ask any dentist if you should floss. But you probably already know what their answer will be.
Your teeth consist of five surfaces, and brushing your teeth will hit all but two. Flossing will take care of the two remaining surfaces (the surfaces between your teeth) and ensure that plaque does not become tartar, which eats away at your teeth and gums. While flossing can help prevent tooth decay, a study by the Central for Disease Control shows that only 30% of the U.S. population flosses daily.
If you’re one of the 70% of people who don’t floss daily, you should know there are many alternatives to floss out there that can be just as effective in cleaning between your teeth.
Interdental Brushes – These are little brushes that you used to brush in between your teeth. People find these much easier to use than floss, and are good for people who have braces or larger gaps between their teeth.
Waterpik – The waterpik shoots a small, strong stream of water that can fit between small crevices in your teeth. It’s great to use for washing away plaque that can gather in pockets, but can take more time to master than floss or interdental brushes.
Floss Picks – A floss pick is a small piece of floss attached to a handle. These have become popular in recent times due to how convenient they are to use, but there are a few things to consider when using them. Since the floss is attached to a handle, manipulating the floss to hit all of the surfaces of your teeth can be difficult. Additionally, the recommended amount of floss to be used in a session is 12-18 inches, and the typical floss pick is only about two inches. Consider using more than one floss pick per session.
Regardless of what technique you use to clean between your teeth, the overall consensus is that anything is better than nothing.
Have a difficult time flossing every day? Start by doing it three times a week. Flossing takes time and doesn’t give immediate results, but think of it as an investment in your mouth’s future.
If you have any concerns about flossing, reach out to your Lancaster, CA dentist today. Just think about how good it will feel to tell your dentist and hygienist that you’ve been consistently cleaning in between your teeth!
Even though baby’s first teeth are temporary, getting an early start on excellent dental hygiene practices, including both brushing and flossing, is essential to a lifetime of good oral health. Dental decay is one of the most common childhood diseases. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 42% of children ages 2 to 11 have had cavities in baby teeth, and 21% of those ages 6 to 11 have had cavities in permanent teeth.
Tooth decay not only poses a threat to tiny teeth, it can negatively affect a child’s whole health, as well as how they feel about themselves. One of the longest-lasting benefits of a healthy smile during childhood is the foundation for a healthy self-image.
You should begin cleaning a baby’s gums after each feeding with gauze or a soft cloth starting immediately after birth. As soon as the baby teeth begin to erupt, you can use a soft-bristled child’s toothbrush to clean your toddler’s teeth. Continue brushing for them until they have the dexterity to take over (approximately around 6 years old).
Flossing is difficult for small, untrained hands. Your child doesn’t have to begin brushing right away, but once their tooth surfaces are almost touching, plaque and food begin to settle in between teeth, which can lead to gum disease and tooth decay. At this point, they should begin learning to floss and doing so at least once a day.
Teaching your child to floss can be tricky. The following steps will help you get them off to an easy start.
- Choose soft, flavored floss that’s gentle on your child’s gums and tastes good.
- Measure out a length of floss that runs from your fingers to your elbow.
- Wrap the floss around your child’s fingers as you would your own when flossing, but make sure it isn’t so tight that it cuts off circulation or causes any discomfort.
- Gently guide your children’s fingers, and show them how to glide the floss between the teeth.
- Show them how to make the floss into a C shape and curve it carefully beneath the gum line.
- Make sure they shift the floss to the next finger between each tooth so that they use fresh floss in each space.
At first flossing may be difficult and even frustrating for your little one. They may not like wrapping the string around their fingers, or they may just find changing the wrap of the floss too difficult. Fortunately, there are a wide variety of child-friendly floss sticks available in different colors and flavors. They come in packs of 50 to 100, giving your little one room for error. Make sure they dispose of each floss stick after use.
If your child is having an extra difficult time learning to floss, or if they have braces, consider trying the Waterpik Water Flosser for Kids. It’s made with a simple design that makes flossing easy for children over the age of 6. It is child safe and designed for small hands, so that your child’s frustration will be alleviated and their teeth will get cleaned properly.
As your children develop, they will be able to execute flossing with ease and can decide whether to continue using their flossing stick or a Waterpik, or whether to take the more traditional route.
For more information and help educating your child on the importance of their oral hygiene practices, call us today. We prepare you with information and instructions on how to clean your child’s teeth, as well as how to teach your child to clean their own teeth — or we can teach them with you.