Dentists recommend that you floss and brush twice a day, but these efforts are all for naught if you happen to make one or more of these common dental hygiene mistakes. Brushing frequently is no doubt a good thing, but even when brushing twice a day, practicing bad habits can harm your teeth. Consider some of the common mistakes we at Triadent see our clients making on a regular basis:
1) You’re Using Alcohol-Based Mouthwash for Dental Hygiene
Unless a Ottawa dentist has specifically recommended for you to use mouthwash, there are generally no substantial dental health benefits to its use! While swashing some around in your mouth is a good idea to clear up bad breath, some dental experts may even argue that alcohol-based mouthwashes are bad for your dental health. Alcohol is not only dehydrating, but can impact the natural ecology of your mouth. If you’re a smoker, some studies have indicated that the ethanol in alcohol-based mouthwashes will allow cancer-causing substances to permeate the lining of your mouth more easily, increasing your chance of oral cancer!
If, however, your dentist has recommended mouthwash for you, it is important to use a therapeutic, or fluoride-based mouthwash. These are the types of mouthwash that you will generally find at the dentist, but you can buy them off the shelf as well. Generally speaking, look for a pink or purple mouthwash variant, (instead of blue or green) for mouthwash that works. Also, be sure to check the label to confirm you’re buying a fluoride-based mouthwash.
2) You’re Using a Hard-Bristled Brush
Hard-bristled toothbrushes can make brushing a satisfying experience for some. The tactile sensation of the brush scrubbing away at our teeth may feel good, but we’re not supposed to be sanding down our teeth to in order to clean them!
While hard bristles might feel like they are providing a better clean, they can significantly damage your oral health. Hard bristles are much more likely to scrape away at the enamel that protects teeth; leaving an abrasive surface for tartar to more easily stick to. Sometimes hard bristles can even leave deeper scratches, providing an entry point for cavity formation.
More than just bad for teeth, individuals that use hard-bristled brushes often end up with gum issues as a results of the irritation caused by their choice in bristles. The truth is that toothbrushes should be considered more as mouth brushes, and hard-bristles can make cleaning the soft surfaces behind your lips an uncomfortable experience.
3) You’re Not Flossing Properly
If you’re a flosser (and you should be!), and if it takes you under a minute to floss your whole mouth, chances are you’re skipping some important steps necessary for good dental hygiene.
Most flossers will floss quickly. Passing the floss between their teeth, moving down and up once or twice, and moving onto the next one. While this method might be quick, it isn’t very effective. It’s important to also think in terms of forward and back, and side to side when flossing. After you’ve passed the floss between your teeth, make sure to almost wrap it around the side of each tooth before moving it up and down. This will ensure that you remove all the cavity-causing buildup between your teeth.
4) You’re Sleeping with Your Mouth Open
Saliva is the mouths first and strongest line of defense against tooth decay, constantly maintaining the health of the hard and soft tissues within your mouth. Saliva will wash away all manners of food and debris that harmful oral bacteria rely on for nutrition, as well as neutralize acids that can damage your teeth.
Many who breathe through their nose during the day will, without even being aware, switch to mouth-breathing while asleep. Doing this causes saliva to evaporate, and gives harmful bacteria the ideal environment to proliferate; especially if you don’t brush before bed. Not only is inadequate saliva a major cause of tooth decay, but because we aren’t chewing, talking, or doing much of anything with our mouths at night, bacteria are given carte blanche to wreak havoc on our mouths every night for 6-8 hours! Ever wonder what causes morning breath…?
Correcting mouth-breathing sleeping habits doesn’t have to be difficult. The most important thing to do is to try and build a habit of breathing through your nose during the day, while you can physically control what you’re doing. This should get your body in the habit of subconsciously breathing through your nose rather than your mouth. Secondly, if congested, perform a “nose-clearing” exercise as needed to keep the airway clear so your body doesn’t revert back to mouth-breathing. If you still aren’t having any luck, then consider trying a nasal saline spray in order to clear your nasal passage before bed.
5) You’re Not Coming In For Regularly Scheduling Cleanings
The old saying is that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and nowhere is that more true when it comes to dental hygiene and health.
Booking regular cleanings (every 6-12 months) allows a dental hygienist to do the work of scaling and polishing your teeth as well as clearing away calcified plaque that your toothbrush cannot remove. Importantly, cleanings also provide your dentist an opportunity to check in on any oral problems you might be experiencing, and provide preventative care before it is too late. Preventative measures to address oral problems are always easier, more comfortable, and less expensive to perform than restorative measures, so save yourself the hassle and money by booking cleanings with your dentist on a regular basis!
Brush Up on Your Technique – Tips From Triadent Dental
Next time you’re at the dentist, be sure to take the opportunity to talk about your brushing, flossing, and oral hygiene habits. There’s no better way to get advice on your routine than by demonstrating your technique to your dentist, and getting their input. When you’re brushing, flossing, and taking care of your mouth the right way, you will feel a lot more confident about your oral hygiene between visits, and reduce the amount of time you spend in the chair by avoiding unfortunate oral health complications.
For more information on how to ensure you’re performing your oral health routine the right way, keep your eyes on the Triadent blog!