Using oral hygiene practices at home and regular dental care appointments help prevent small problems from becoming serious. Your dentist and hygienist can also recommend special tools for hard-to-clean areas and teach you how to use them.

Brushing removes food particles and reduces the amount of sticky plaque. It also helps to clean the tongue, especially in between the tiny bumps (papillae) that alter taste and cause bad breath.

Brush Daily

Brushing is one of the most important aspects of good dental hygiene. It removes food particles, plaque and tartar from teeth and helps prevent tooth decay. It also prevents gum disease, which can lead to loss of bone and other serious health problems.

Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste that meets the American Dental Association (ADA) standards. Be sure to brush thoroughly for at least two minutes twice a day, every day.

Brushing your teeth can be difficult for children and adults with special needs, such as visual or physical impairments or autism spectrum disorders. To help, you can download a digital guide that combines a social story and visual cues with an interactive character, Magnus, to prompt daily activities like teeth brushing.

Floss Daily

Flossing is the best way to clean the tiny spaces in between your teeth. These spaces get trapped with food, bacteria, and plaque that brushing alone cannot reach. Those bacteria feed on the sugars in your teeth and excrete acids that eat away at your tooth enamel, leading to cavities. Flossing regularly removes those bacteria and keeps your teeth free from cavities. It is especially important if you have dental work, such as bridges, crowns, or implants, as these restorations tend to trap food particles between and around them.

Besides cleaning the spaces in your mouth that brushing alone can’t do, flossing also gives you fresher breath, a cleaner palate, and a healthier smile. It only takes about two minutes to floss your teeth every day, so it’s easy to add to your oral hygiene routine.

When flossing, use a piece of floss about 18 inches long and wind most of it around the middle fingers of each hand. Then, carefully slip the floss between each pair of teeth and between your gums, making sure to touch the border of each tooth with the floss. You can also use a plastic dental pick instead of floss, but make sure you thoroughly clean between each of your teeth. Many dentists recommend flossing before you brush so the floss can loosen any stuck food bits and bacteria before the toothbrush whisks them away.

Visit Your Dentist Regularly

Although brushing twice a day and flossing daily is great for your oral hygiene, it is still important to visit your dentist on a regular basis. Most dentists recommend visiting the dentist every six months for a professional cleaning and dental exam. During your appointment, the hygienist and dentist can remove any plaque that has built up in hard-to-reach places. They can also check for signs of gum disease and tooth decay.

In addition, they can look for early signs of more serious issues like oral cancer and other diseases. They can catch these problems in their earliest stages when they are easier and less expensive to treat.

If you have a medical condition, such as diabetes or heart disease, the dentist can help you manage it through your oral hygiene routine and by recommending any other necessary treatments. The dentist can also help you choose the best oral hygiene products for your needs, such as toothpaste and mouthwash with the ADA seal of acceptance.

The dentist can also examine x-rays of your teeth and jawbone to identify issues such as wisdom teeth that are blocked from growing through the gum line, bone decay, cysts, or tumors. Keeping to your dentist’s recommendations will help you maintain good oral health and avoid more serious issues in the future.

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