4 Critical Oral Health Habits
February 14, 2008
- Brushing more matters. Scrubbing with fluoride toothpaste robs oral bacteria of sustenance. Frequent cleaning—ideally, right after every meal or snack—prevents buildup that can lead to gum disease. In a pinch, chew sugar-free ADA-approved gum, like Orbit, after eating. Use a soft-bristle brush, and be gentle to avoid hurting the gums.
- Forgetting to floss undermines good brushing habits. Only floss can reach below the gumline. Unchecked bacteria in the pocket between tooth and gum can cause inflammation, tissue damage, and bone loss—and even spread to the bloodstream and the rest of the body. Tooth loss is caused more often by gum disease than tooth decay. If you find floss too unwieldy, use interdental pics.
- Two or more yearly cleanings are crucial. Some plaque gets trapped below the gumline and hardens into tartar, irritating and inflaming the gums. Even good flossing won't make it budge; only your dentist can remove it.
- A swish may help. Using an ADA-approved mouth rinse offers a benefit. Research shows that the antimicrobial rinses (and antimicrobial pastes) reduce bacterial count and inhibit their activity. Fluoride rinses used along with fluoride paste give more protection against decay than fluoride paste alone.