You’ve probably known about plaque since elementary school; it’s the film containing the bacteria that are constantly forming on your teeth. If left unchecked, it can lead to tooth-damaging cavities, and if it hardens into tartar, it’ll be difficult to remove without help from your dentist in Selden. Fortunately, good oral hygiene can help you control bacteria levels and prevent too much damage from being done. Here are 5 tips for a cleaner, healthier mouth.
1. Brush Often, Brush Well
You probably know to brush at least twice a day, but are you brushing well? Most people brush for an average of about 45 seconds at a time, but the American Dental Association recommends spending roughly 2 minutes per brushing session; this time should include giving extra attention to the hard-to-reach surfaces behind your teeth and on the rear molars. Some studies have found that an electric toothbrushes may remove more plaque than a manual toothbrush, so keep that in mind.
2. Use Fluoride Toothpaste
Fluoride is a mineral that’s present in the water you drink every day. It helps make the enamel of the teeth more resistant to decay. Because of this, fluoride toothpastes are particularly effective at helping to prevent cavities. For children, only very small amounts of toothpaste should be used; you may want to use non-fluoride toothpastes until your little ones learn to spit after brushing without supervision.
3. Floss at Least Once a Day
Flossing is the best way to effectively clean the gaps between teeth that are difficult to reach by brushing. For people who have trouble using traditional string floss, water picks and interdental brushes can be a helpful alternative; use whatever method you find to be most effective at getting between every tooth.
4. Use Mouthwash
Antiseptic mouthwash can kill the bacteria that cause plaque. It should be done at least once a day at the same time as brushing and flossing.
5. Control Your Diet
When the bacteria on your teeth are exposed to sugar, they excrete acids that cause decay. Obviously, cutting down on sugary foods and drinks (candy, soda, fruit juice, honey-sweetened granola) can go a long way towards reducing plaque levels. However, other foods can actually physically remove some plaque. Crunchy fruits and vegetables such as apples and carrots, for example, can help clean the teeth as you eat. Dairy products such as cheese don’t directly get rid of plaque, but they can help strengthen the teeth and make the enamel more resistant to decay.
If plaque hardens into tartar, you’ll need a dentist’s help to remove it. Furthermore, a thorough professional cleaning can clean the spots you’ve missed and can help you figure out which areas need improvement. That’s just one reason why it’s so important to make sure you visit your dentist twice a year!
About the Author
Dr. Stephen Scotto-Lavino has been practicing dentistry for over 30 years; he’s currently a member of the staff at St. Charles Hospital and Rehabilitation Center as well as John T. Mather Memorial Hospital. He provides dental cleanings and fillings for patients of all ages. To schedule an appointment, visit his website or call (613) 698-9400.