October is National Dental Hygiene month. During your dental checkup appointment and cleaning your hygienist and family dentist in Bellevue provides oral hygiene instructions to help you improve your oral and gum health. Proper dental hygiene is key to maintaining healthy teeth and gums.

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes each session with fluoridated toothpaste, along with a soft bristle tooth brush. Flossing once daily is also recommended to help remove stubborn plaque trapped between the teeth.

Proper brushing technique should include:

  • Use a soft bristle toothbrush to ensure gentle pressure on your teeth and gums, and to help prevent oral trauma.  Medium and hard bristle toothbrushes are generally too abrasive and not recommended.
  • Brush your teeth at a 45 degree angle
  • Gently brush in a circular motion to help remove plaque along the gum line.
  • Brush your tongue to help prevent bad breath, halitosis.
  • Brush for a period of 2 minutes.  Less than 2 minutes may not be effective at removing enough plaque, and brushing more than 2 minutes may be cause excessive wear on your teeth and gums.
  • Use a pea sized amount of fluoridate toothpaste each time you brush.

Flossing continues to be recommended as part of your daily dental hygiene.  Flossing is still the best way to remove plaque and bacteria between your teeth that brushing cannot remove.   The ADA recommends flossing at least once a day.  Not removing the plaque and bacteria trapped between the teeth can cause it to harden and form calculus or tartar.

Mouth rinses can be a helpful adjunct of dental hygiene. Rinsing can help reduce the level of biofilm  (a thin film of bacteria that attaches to your teeth), and thus reduce risk of cavities.  It is best to use a rinse that does not contain alcohol, as the alcohol can cause dry mouth and irritate your gums and cheeks.

Along with regular health care, visiting your family dentist every 4-6 months is recommended.  A good diet with limits on sugars, sweets, carbonated and acidic beverages, and frequent snacking is also advised.

It is also important to encourage your children and kids proper dental hygiene.  Kids teeth come in as early as 4 to 6 months of age, and parents can immediately start brushing their teeth with non-fluoridated toothpaste until the child can spit.  Empower your kids by giving them their own kid sized toothbrush, and then by having them watch you brush and floss 🙂  That way, when your children get older, they will be able to take care of their own teeth and gums.

Preventive care via proper brushing and flossing is great at preventing cavities, infection, gum disease, and broken teeth, which can be costly in terms of finance and time.