a person wearing plaid and a brown hat smiling in front of the camera

How to Take Care of Your Teeth to Maintain Good Oral Health

While brushing your teeth every day is often a no-brainer, maintaining good oral health involves so much more than that.

In fact, many people aren’t aware of the importance of having a thorough oral health routine, or the impact that not taking care of your teeth can have on your overall health.

So here’s a look at the importance of taking care of your teeth along with tips for developing good oral health habits, including how often to see the dentist and floss.

The Importance of Maintaining a Good Oral Health Routine

Good oral health contributes to your overall health and well-being. Therefore, following an oral health routine is the best thing you can do for your teeth and gums, as you can prevent oral health problems that could otherwise worsen, becoming costly, stressful, and painful.

And if you take care of your oral health, your gums and teeth will be clean and healthy, and bad breath won’t be a constant problem. You’ll also be able to eat and speak properly, and you’ll be more confident with your smile.

Risks of Not Practicing Proper Oral Health Habits

If you neglect your oral health, you’ll risk experiencing painful, costly, and uncomfortable dental problems. Here’s what happens if you don’t floss and brush regularly:

Plaque Build-Up

Plaque is a sticky layer of bacteria that builds up on your teeth daily. When not removed through brushing and flossing, this plaque will eat away at your tooth enamel, causing tooth decay. When plaque builds up and hardens, it turns into tartar (calculus), which irritates the gums and causes gum disease.

Tooth Decay

The bacteria in plaque produce acids that wear down your tooth enamel and eventually lead to tooth decay. Regular brushing and flossing can prevent tooth decay. But if a cavity forms, you’ll need to pay a visit to your dentist to fix it before it worsens.

Gum Disease

Plaque build-up along and beneath the gum line causes gum disease—an infection that hurts the gum and bone that hold your teeth in place. Fortunately, early gum disease—known as gingivitis—can be fixed with regular brushing and flossing.

Tooth Loss

Advanced gum disease—known as periodontitis—ruins the gums, bones, and tissue that support your teeth. And if left untreated, it can lead to tooth loss.

You may also lose teeth that have advanced tooth decay. When the pulp of a tooth is too decayed to repair with a root canal treatment, it will need to be removed.

Best Practices for a Healthy Mouth and Teeth

To develop good oral health habits, follow these best practices.

Brushing Your Teeth Twice a Day

Brushing your teeth helps to remove food particles and plaque. So make sure to always brush at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste to fight plaque-causing bacteria and provide a protective barrier for your teeth.

Always Brushing and Flossing Before Bed

Flossing and brushing teeth before bed removes food particles, bacteria, and plaque that accumulate on your teeth throughout the day. And since saliva production slows down while you sleep, and saliva is responsible for washing away bacteria, it’s especially important to clean your teeth before bed. Otherwise, the bacteria will cause tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath.

Flossing Regularly

Regularly flossing your teeth is just as important as brushing. Flossing helps remove food particles and plaque from between your teeth and below the gum line while stimulating the gums and reducing inflammation.

So how often should you floss? Ideally, you should floss after every meal. But flossing at least once a day before bed will help maintain good oral health.

Practicing Good Technique

There are proper techniques for brushing and flossing to remove food particles and plaque effectively. And not following the proper techniques is almost as bad as not brushing or flossing at all.

When brushing, take your time—at least two minutes—and move the toothbrush in gentle, circular, and short back-and-forth motions to remove plaque on the teeth and at the gum line. Hold the brush at a slight angle, aiming it at the area where the tooth meets the gums.

Brush the inside, outside, and chewing surfaces of your teeth. And brush gently. Brushing too hard or with a hard toothbrush will hurt your gums.

Don’t Forget to Brush Your Tongue

The plaque that builds up on teeth can also build up on your tongue, leading to a bad mouth odour and other oral health problems. So always gently brush your tongue when you brush your teeth.

Some toothbrushes have a tongue brush on the back of the toothbrush head. However, you can also purchase tongue scrapers to remove bacteria from your tongue gently.

Choosing the Right Toothbrush and Replacing it Regularly

Use a soft-bristled toothbrush that fits your mouth comfortably. Often, smaller toothbrush heads are ideal since they can comfortably reach the back teeth. And electric toothbrushes are even more effective at removing plaque and reducing the risk of gum disease.

Replace your toothbrush or replacement head every three months or sooner if the bristles fray and become irregular.

Drinking Lots of Water

Drinking plenty of water is good for both your oral health and your overall physical health. Drinking water after every meal can help rinse your mouth and prevent the negative effects of acidic and sticky foods between brushing.

Limiting Sugary and Acidic Foods

Sugary and acidic foods wear down tooth enamel and can lead to cavities. Acidic fruits, teas, and coffee can also wear down tooth enamel, so be mindful of this and take precautions to protect your teeth, such as limiting sugary foods and drinks and rinsing your mouth with water after drinking tea and coffee.

Visiting the Dentist at Least Twice a Year

Even if you follow the best oral health care routine at home, your teeth still need professional cleanings and checkups with your dentist. Professional cleanings remove any calculus that is too hard to remove from regular brushing and flossing. And checkups help your dentist spot potential oral health issues early, provide the proper treatment, and prevent problems before they worsen.

Ideally, you should visit your dentist for cleanings and checkups at least twice a year or every six months.

Preventing tooth decay, gum disease, and other serious oral health problems are why it’s important to brush your teeth at least twice a day, floss daily, and follow a good oral health routine.

Developing good oral health habits will keep your gums and teeth in good shape for years to come, avoid costly and painful oral health issues, and help maintain good overall health.