It’s no secret that your dental health is important. In fact, about 83% of adults say their current health-related priority is their oral health. There’s a reason for that: not only does your dental health have a direct impact on the appearance of your smile but it can also affect your physical health. Gum disease is associated with an increased risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic conditions such as stroke. Taking care of your oral health is a great way to take care of the rest of your health, too.
But there are some common mistakes people make in an effort to take care of their teeth. There’s a chance you could be doing too little or too much for your teeth. That said, here are some of the most common mistakes people make with their dental health and what you can do to keep your smile in great shape.
Brushing your teeth too hard
Many people use medium-to-hard bristled toothbrushes and give their teeth a good scrub in the mornings and evenings. However, brushing your teeth like this can actually do more harm than good for your oral health. While it’s true that a sticky bacteria called plaque likes to cling to your teeth, it actually doesn’t take a lot to remove it. Hard brushing can wear away at the protective layer of enamel on your teeth, which gives cavity-causing bacteria direct access to your teeth where they can more effectively make cavities.
To get rid of plaque while also protecting your enamel, use a soft-bristled toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. Brush your teeth in a gentle circular motion and use floss to gently scrape away the plaque from the sides of your teeth once you’re done brushing. Any plaque you can’t get to on your own that turns into tartar can be removed professionally by your local dental services at your bi-annual cleaning.
Only brushing your teeth once a day
Some people only brush their teeth in the morning before they head out to start their day. They may skip brushing in the evenings because they’re too tired or they think the additional brushing doesn’t matter. However, only brushing your teeth once a day can be incredibly bad for your teeth because it puts you at greater risk for cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease. It only takes plaque 24 hours before it hardens into tartar, which is why the American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth at least twice a day. Brushing twice a day ensures you’re brushing your teeth roughly once every 12 hours to keep plaque off your teeth.
Not flossing your teeth the right way
While flossing might seem like just another way to torture your gums, it’s actually an essential part of your dental health routine. However, not everyone flosses their teeth correctly. It’s important to remember when you’re flossing that you’re not just trying to get food out from between your teeth and stimulate your gums. You’re trying to remove additional plaque from the sides of your teeth you can’t necessarily reach with your toothbrush.
To floss your teeth the right way, start by taking out 12 to 18 inches of dental floss and wrapping the ends of the floss around your fingers. You want at least an inch of floss to work with. Slide the floss between your teeth and gently hug the side of your tooth with the floss in a ‘c’ shape. Carefully move the floss up and down along the side of your tooth to scrape away at any plaque that may be hiding there. Repeat this process for each side of your teeth at least twice a day. Remember to use your floss along the backs of your back molars, too. It’s easy to forget to floss the very back of these teeth because they don’t have any bordering teeth to floss between.
It’s also recommended to floss your teeth using traditional string floss or water flossers rather than a floss pick. This is because floss picks aren’t usually as effective as other methods of flossing and can actually spread bacteria around your mouth rather than removing it from your teeth.
Relying on mouthwash rather than brushing
Mouthwash can be a great way to protect your gums against gingivitis and gum disease. However, mouthwash isn’t meant to replace brushing and flossing in your dental care routine. Mouthwash is only meant to be a mild disinfectant. It helps to remove the bacteria from your mouth that you’ve loosened with your toothbrush and floss. Mouthwash on its own isn’t powerful enough to completely remove plaque from your teeth. That means relying only on mouthwash puts you at greater risk of tartar, cavities, and tooth decay.
Not brushing for long enough
Professional dental services recommend brushing your teeth for at least two minutes twice a day to reduce the risk of plaque from turning into tartar. Brushing your teeth aggressively in a short amount of time in an effort to hurry in the morning will leave plaque and bacteria intact, damage your protective layer of enamel, and irritate your gums. Make sure to give yourself enough time in the morning and evening to brush your teeth gently for two minutes to improve your oral health.
Ignoring dental pain
If you have a toothache or other dental pain, it’s important to visit your local dental services as soon as possible. This is because dental pain is typically a sign that a cavity has reached the root of your tooth and the pain you’re feeling your nerve being exposed to the air. Ignoring dental pain is a sure-fire way for a smaller problem like a cavity to turn into a major problem like an infection. Your local dental services may be able to fill your cavity if it’s small enough, but there’s a chance you may need a crown.
Indulging in too many sugary drinks
The bacteria in your mouth love to feed on the sugar left over on your teeth after you’ve indulged in a sugary beverage. Sodas, sweetened coffee, and especially energy drinks can increase your risk of cavities. This is because, when you drink these beverages, you’re essentially feeding in the cavity-making bacteria in your mouth. Try to increase your water intake throughout the day instead of drinking these beverages. When you do indulge in a sugary drink, consider rinsing your mouth with water when you’re finished to keep your mouth’s bacteria from doing you harm.
Not visiting the dentist every six months
Once tartar has formed on your teeth, you need professional dental services to remove it. That’s why it’s so important to visit your local dental services bi-annually for a cleaning. Removing tartar helps to keep the bad bacteria in your mouth at bay, which reduces your risk for cavities and tooth decay. Skipping dentist appointments could put you at greater risk for oral health issues and other health conditions.
Fortunately, there’s a New Orleans dentist right near you who can help give you the dental services you need to keep your smile in great shape: Dr. Dubois at Comfort Smiles Dentistry. To learn more about our professional dental services or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Dubois, contact Comfort Smiles Dentistry today.