You’ve heard the common saying: we should never judge a book by its cover. However, the truth is that most of us do! First impressions matter and one survey by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry shows that 48% of U.S. adults believe a smile is the most important part of that impression.
This, of course, is why taking care of your dental health is so important. Without proper hygiene, it’s hard to hold onto those pearly whites!
If you’re trying to pave your way to a better, brighter smile, there are a few key oral hygiene practices that can help you get there. Let’s take a look at the most important steps you can take to protect your teeth.
Brush the Right Way
Everyone knows that you should brush your teeth twice a day, but that doesn’t mean everyone brushes the right way.
Brushing your teeth as recommended is the single most important thing you can do for your oral health. You might be tempted to let this habit slide every now and then—but resist the urge! Tartar can build up fast, and the right brushing habits can keep harmful bacteria out of your mouth.
One of the most common dental health tips mandates that you should brush for two minutes. Many people think this process can be automatic, but it’s common for people to brush for far less than the recommended amount of time. Two minutes is longer than you think!
Set a timer, or invest in an electric toothbrush that powers down when two minutes have passed. Try to take time to scrub each tooth individually, and hold your brush at a 45-degree angle to scrub your gums as well.
Floss Once Per Day
Flossing isn’t an optional part of your oral hygiene. It’s an essential step that helps remove bacteria your toothbrush can’t reach. Despite this, many U.S. adults fail to floss as recommended, with 32% saying they never floss at all.
Overcoming obstacles to flossing may help in certain situations. Consider using modern methods like water flossers and air flossers, for example, or use the circle method if your fingers slip on the plastic thread.
Don’t Neglect Your Tongue
It’s easy to forget your tongue’s role in your dental health, but it has a big one! Your tongue can collect bad bacteria just as well as your teeth and gums do. The result is an unwanted one: bad breath.
To clean your tongue, make sure to brush it every time you brush your teeth. If you prefer, you can also invest in a simple tongue scraper as well.
Schedule a Cleaning Twice a Year
Dental anxiety is nothing to laugh at: researchers estimate that one-third of Americans avoid dental visits out of fear. But if you’re considering skipping your regular cleaning, you may trade short-term comfort with long-term oral health.
Professional cleanings help clear away sticky plaque, which can give you healthy teeth for longer. In addition, dentists can spot problem areas with your brushing habits or identify potential cavities before they form, saving you money down the line. Be sure to read more about how regular cleanings can save you thousands in future dental bills!
Know When to Schedule an Extra Visit to Your Dentist
It’s not unusual for most people to experience odd aches that come and go or temporary bleeding when first flossing a tooth. However, there are a few cases where it’s a good idea to schedule a dental visit outside of your biannual cleanings:
- Toothache: Long-term tooth pain won’t go away on its own, so call a dentist for help
- Sudden sensitivity: If a tooth has become sensitive all at once, there may be a worsening nerve issue
- Swollen, red, or bleeding gums: When gum issues occur over a long period of time, gingivitis or periodontitis may be the cause
- Jaw pain: Ongoing jaw pain may be a sign of teeth grinding, which can wear down your enamel
- Wisdom tooth pain: Pain in the last molars in your mouth can be a sign of a misaligned or infected wisdom tooth
These sudden one-off issues can be stressful or worrying, but visiting a dentist can help you understand the cause and make a treatment plan to help.
Have Your Teeth Straightened
There are many reasons why you might want to opt to have your teeth straightened. Cosmetic alterations are the most common reason, as straighter teeth often lead to a nicer smile.
However, those with teeth that are cramped or crowded may benefit on another level. Teeth that are too close together can be difficult to brush and floss, and they may also be more prone to trap bacteria in hard-to-reach places.
Of course, many modern adults feel reluctant to straighten their teeth: after all, braces seem like a teenager’s game. Fortunately, there are plenty of options to choose from beyond the silver braces that have been so common in the past.
If you’d like to invest in teeth straightening, ask your dentist about products like Invisalign. These clear retainers are easy to use and remove as needed, and they can help you straighten cramped or crooked teeth without drawing unwanted attention to your mouth.
Take Steps to Better Protect Your Dental Health
Whether you have a history of great oral hygiene or you’re often running in and out of your dentist’s office, the simple practices above are a great way to make the most of your dental health. Work to brush up your oral hygiene knowledge and to make a habit of brushing and flossing well, and you’ll find that your smile looks much better for it!
Looking for more essential guides to help you protect yourself when it matters? Check out our other posts for additional insights.