How Can I Maintain a Healthy Smile?

Maintaining a healthy smile involves more than just brushing your teeth.  In order to keep your mouth in a state of optimal health, you must commit to three essential components of oral health.  When combined, these three components will work together to help you maintain a completely healthy smile!

  1. Do Your Part At Home

This is the part most people understand.  It makes sense to most people that if you neglect your oral hygiene, you will suffer from dental problems like cavities and gum disease.  Despite this general knowledge, few people actually commit to carrying out great oral hygiene on a daily basis.  The main purpose of a home oral hygiene routine is to remove dental plaque because plaque contains the bacteria responsible for causing cavities and gum disease.

In order to effectively remove that plaque, your routine must include brushing and flossing with the right technique.

Correct Brushing Technique

When using a manual toothbrush, make sure the bristles are soft or extra-soft.  Plaque is soft, and you do not need hard bristles to remove it.  Because most plaque collects at the junction between the teeth and gums, you must make sure that the toothbrush bristles lightly graze the gums.  It is best to aim for the gumline at a 45 degree angle and move the brush in gentle, circular motions.

If you use an electric toothbrush, you should aim for the same type of positioning and let the motion of the toothbrush do the work.

As you brush, pay attention to which teeth you are touching with the brush and which surfaces you clean.  You need to brush every exposed surface, including the cheek-side, the tongue-side, and the chewing surface.  You should brush at least twice each day, ideally once after breakfast and once before bedtime.

Correct Flossing Technique

We refer to the best flossing technique as “C-shaped flossing”.  This name derives from the way you pull the floss toward the front or back and wrap it around the side of each tooth, in the shape of the letter C.  The goal of flossing is to remove plaque from the sides of the teeth where toothbrush bristles cannot reach.  Simply snapping the floss between two teeth and back up again does not accomplish plaque removal.  You must wrap the floss around the side of the tooth and move it in a vertical motion.

The best timing for floss is before bedtime so that you do not allow plaque to stay between the teeth overnight.

  1. See Your Dentist Consistently

Great plaque removal at home is an important step, but it does not prevent the need for dental care.  No matter how great you are with your oral hygiene, there may be areas of risk of which you are unaware.  Your dentist will intercept any red flags and offer preventive advice and treatment if applicable.  Your dental hygienist will remove areas of plaque that your oral hygiene misses or hard tartar buildup that you cannot remove at home.

Patients who see the dentist on a consistent basis for routine, preventive care have significantly better oral health than those who do not.  Your dentist will help you stop dental problems before they start!

  1. Manage Your Overall Health

This is the component that surprises many people.  Despite the separation between dentistry and traditional medicine, the mouth is NOT separate from the rest of the body.  You cannot have a completely healthy mouth if you have major health problems.  While your oral health can affect your overall health, the opposite is also true.  Your overall health can affect the health of your mouth.

Issues like diabetes, combinations of prescription medications, and immune complications all have an impact on your mouth.  In order to maintain a completely healthy mouth, you must also work toward a completely healthy body.  When you manage your systemic health concerns, you can better maintain your oral health.  And the opposite is true.  For example, if you have uncontrolled blood sugar levels with diabetes, you will have a very difficult time treating and overcoming worsening gum disease.  If you take multiple prescription drugs and suffer from dry mouth as a result, your mouth is at an extremely high risk for cavities and gingivitis.

More Questions about Maintaining a Healthy Smile?

Call Timberlake Dental at 940-382-1750 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Chowning.  He can assess your current situation, advise you if there are health concerns related to your mouth, and get you started on the path to great oral health.

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