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Dental Hygiene: A Refresher Course

Posted Aug 30 2010 5:30am
As a child, you may have learned about dental hygiene at your first dentist appointment. The dental hygienist probably demonstrated proper techniques on a giant set of teeth, using a larger than life toothbrush and yarn that was supposed to be floss. From that point on, you were equipped with the lifelong skills of brushing and flossing your teeth. Over the years, you may have skipped a brushing or flossing every now and then, but for the most part maintaining your teeth has been ingrained into your daily hygienic practice.

But like many people, you may have become lax about about your technique over the years. Read the tips below to remind yourself about proper oral hygiene
Please floss

Flossing isn’t as terrible as some people make it out to be. Today there are various types of floss you can use. It doesn’t matter what type of floss you use as long as you reach each side of the teeth you are flossing between. Make sure you get all of the plaque and use different sections of the floss each time. This will ensure that your floss won’t break and that you won’t spread plaque from one part of your mouth to another.

If the brush fits, use it

Making sure your toothbrush is the right size for your mouth is incredibly important. If your brush is too big you will strain your jaw when you try to brush those hard to reach areas.

Be respectful to your teeth

Teeth are not like pots and pans that need to be cleaned with brunt force and steel wool. Brushing your teeth too hard or with a stiff bristled brush can damage your gums and the enamel on your teeth. Make sure your toothbrush has bristles that are stiff enough to remove plaque but gentle enough to massage your gums The American Dental Association recommends that you softly brush your teeth two or three times a day. Brush for at least two minutes. If keeping track of time is an obstacle, get a stopwatch just for for brushing your teeth.

Don’t miss the gum line

Missing your gum line when brushing your teeth is like cleaning every room in your house but the dingy basement; sure the top surface looks clean but there is still bacteria looming underneath. This bacteria can cause gingivitis and tooth decay . Remember that you are brushing soft tissue on your gum line and use gentle vertical strokes.

Brush all areas of your teeth

Depending on your dominant hand, you may be more apt to brush one side of your mouth more than the other. Make sure you get into every crack and crevice. Also don’t spend your entire brushing in one section of your mouth, move around constantly and consistently.


After you use your toothbrush, rinse it out. Don’t leave your toothpaste and mouth grime on your toothbrush. It will become a breeding ground for bacteria and the bristles will stick together, making the next brushing crusty.

Storing your toothbrush

First and foremost, don’t store your toothbrush anywhere near your bathroom toilet. It is also not a good idea to store your toothbrush on the bathroom counter where your hairstyling products could eventually land after application. Store your toothbrush in a case that allows air to filter through, making it easy for your toothbrush to dry.

Changing your toothbrush

The American Dental Association advises changing your toothbrush every three months. Change your toothbrush if there are loose bristles or if the bristles fray. It is also a good idea to change your toothbrush after you have been sick. There could be bacteria on your toothbrush that is still looming from your sickness.

For more about oral hygiene see the following websites
WebMD Oral Health Center

National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research

~You don't have to brush your teeth - just the ones you want to keep. ~ Author Unknown
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