Home care tips for good oral health

Regular visits to your family dentist are essential for maintaining good oral health. However, what you do at home can also impact the health of your teeth and gums. Below is a short list of things you can do to keep your smile cavity- free and happy in between visits.

Don’t forget to brush your tongue

We put this at the top of the list because it’s something that many patients haven’t heard of or forget to do. Your tongue can harbor plaque, bacteria and food particles just as your teeth can. Gently brush your tongue or use a tongue scraper. Aside from cleaning, some patients find that brushing their tongue works to freshen their breath and even enhance their sense of taste. If you don’t already brush your tongue, give it a try!

If you can’t brush, rinse!

Brushing after every meal is ideal; however, realistically, that isn’t always going to happen. If you’re out and you’ve had a meal, simply swish some water around in your mouth to remove food particles until you can get home to brush.

Chew sugar free gum

You can also chew sugar free gum such as Trident after meals or snacks. While not as effective as brushing, chewing sugar free gum can stimulate saliva production and provide some cavity protection. Look for ingredients such as xylitol, sorbitol and aspartame, which are sugar- free sweeteners.

Floss the right way

We all know that we should floss at least once a day. However, it’s just as important to floss the correct way. Many patients are too rough when flossing, which can lead to sensitive, bleeding gums. Take your time and be sure to get in between each tooth. Waxed floss can help if your teeth are especially close together. Take a long enough piece, about a foot long or more. Twirl the ends around your fingers securely. Guide the floss in between the teeth and wrap around each tooth in a ‘C’ pattern, getting below the gumline on both sides. You may rinse with water or mouthwash after flossing to remove any excess debris, plaque or food particles.

Choose the right toothpaste for your teeth

The toothpaste aisle can be daunting. There are literally hundreds if not thousands of different brands and varieties to choose from, each promising things like whiter teeth, fresher breath or extra cavity protection. So which toothpaste should you go with?

Fortunately, you can get a great quality toothpaste for under $5; no need to splurge on an expensive brand. The main thing you want to look for is whether the toothpaste contains fluoride. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral which strengthens teeth and offers cavity protection. Just look for a seal of approval from the Canadian or American Dental Association on the package.

If you have any issues such as tooth sensitivity, look for a toothpaste that is designed for that need. Some toothpastes offer whitening or extra cavity protection (these toothpastes usually contain a high amount of fluoride). If you are  unsure of what kind to get, or if you have any other questions about oral hygiene, just ask your dentist or hygienist next time you come in for a cleaning and checkup.