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Network Health Blog

Dental Hygiene Begins at Home

tootpaste and toothbrush next to each other on white background

How to Create a Dental Routine that Works for You

By Michele Eggers, quality care coordinator at Network Health
Originally published on 10/7/2021 at 9:00 a.m.

Most of us understand the importance of visiting a dentist and having dental cleanings twice each year, but it’s even more important to practice good oral and dental care every day.

Good oral hygiene helps prevent tooth decay, gum disease, bad breath and tooth loss. As any dentist or dental professional will tell you, a happy, healthy smile is worth the extra effort.

So, what exactly is involved in taking care of your smile between dental visits? Let’s look at some simple things you can do to keep your smile as happy as can be.

What does good oral hygiene look like?

Brushing your teeth

As you may have guessed, the number one way you can help take care of your teeth is by brushing them. Using a circular motion, brush your teeth, gums and cheek. Be gentle but thorough, getting to all surfaces, including those hard-to-reach spots.

Here are some things to keep in mind regarding your brushing.

  • Brush for at least two minutes
  • Brush at least twice a day
  • Use a fluoride toothpaste
  • Use a soft toothbrush and replace it at least 3 times per year
  • Use a fluoride mouth rinse to strengthen enamel and prevent erosion

Flossing and cleaning between teeth

Clean between teeth after meals to remove plaque and prevent tartar formation. Many products are available to fit different mouth shapes and sizes.

  • Dental floss
  • Oral irrigators
  • Small brushes/picks meant to fit between teeth

Kind eating for your teeth

The foods you eat are also important to mind as you prioritize your oral health. Eat healthy foods to build strong teeth and avoid enamel erosion and tooth decay.

Here are some things to remember when thinking about how your food can affect your teeth and oral health.

  • Fruits, vegetables, dairy, whole grains and nuts build stronger teeth and reduce gum inflammation
  • Limit sugary drinks and snacks, including those with artificial sweeteners
  • Limit acidic foods and caffeinated beverages
  • Drink plenty of water to cleanse and neutralize acids

Avoid damaging your teeth

Tooth damage can occur if you’re using your teeth for risky behavior, such as opening things or cracking hard nuts. These activities can cause them to chip or break.

When should I call my dentist about my teeth?

While having two cleanings/checkups a year is recommended by dental health providers, you may find yourself needing to reach out to them between regularly scheduled visits. Contact your dentist for unexpected changes occurring between visits such as any of the following.

  • Red, tender or swollen gums
  • Gums that bleed when you brush or floss
  • Painful chewing or increased sensitivity to hot or cold
  • Persistent bad breath

Seeing your dentist twice a year and practicing good oral hygiene at home help prevent tartar from forming below your gumline. Tartar discolors teeth and causes bad breath by trapping plaque and bacteria. If not removed by a dentist or hygienist, this may lead to infection of the gum tissue and the bones surrounding your teeth, resulting in periodontal disease and possible tooth loss.

Take preventive steps today by scheduling routine dental visits and practicing good oral health habits every day.

For more information about how your Wisconsin-based health plan can help with supplemental care, such as dental care, contact us today.

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