Avoid Costly Dental Problems

There is an easy way to prevent tooth decay, gum disease, and other dental issues and almost everyone can do it. It is called home dental care and when practiced on a daily basis, it can keep the mouth healthy for a lifetime. Dental professionals recommend that patients take the following steps at home to prevent unexpected visits.

Begin with Flossing

Caring for teeth and gums begins with flossing at least once a day using floss that feels comfortable. Plastic flossing tools make this process easy and there are even tools designed for children to get an early start on good oral hygiene. Interdental cleaning devices are electric tools that clean between teeth and can be as effective as floss.

There are several methods of flossing including the finger wrap and circle techniques. The first involves wrapping each end of floss around a middle finger. With the second, the ends of the floss are tied together to create a loop. Work dental floss between teeth, moving up toward gums and curving the floss in a U-shape around each tooth. Gently slide the floss under the gum line and move it up and down to scrape off any plaque that has accumulated.

Brush After Eating

Brush teeth at least twice daily, once in the morning and once at night. If possible, also brush after eating. Select a toothbrush with a head that is small enough to reach all areas of the mouth and bristles that are soft and have rounded ends. An ADA-approved electric toothbrush with a rotating, oscillating head is the most effective. Apply some fluoride toothpaste to the brush and brush teeth at an angle of 45 degrees, working where the gums and teeth meet.

Use small, circular motions and rock the toothbrush back and forth on the surface of each tooth. Never scrub because vigorous motion can scratch tooth enamel and pull gums away from teeth. Brush all tooth surfaces on both the tongue and cheek sides, reaching to the back teeth. Use short back-and-forth motion to brush chewing surfaces. Finish by brushing the tongue, working from back to front.

Eating a healthy, balanced diet is part of good home dental care. Control sodium and saturated fats and fill the diet with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Milk, yogurt, cheese, peanuts, and chewing gum with no sugar help remove harmful sugars and fend off plaque. Avoid snacking before bedtime to prevent cavities caused by decreased saliva production.