Oral hygiene is important for more than just a sparkling smile—it’s essential for overall health. Poor oral hygiene easily leads to periodontal or gum disease, which is closely associated with increased risk for:
- high blood pressure
- cardiovascular diseases
- respiratory diseases
Since oral health is the gateway to your overall health, it’s essential to do more than just the bare minimum.
Avoid Sugary Foods and Drinks
The microorganisms that live in your mouth feed on sugar, which then produces acids that attack your teeth. This acidic environment then leads to tooth decay, cavities, gum disease, and bad breath.
Avoiding soda, sweets, and other sugary foods and drinks is one of the best things you can do for your oral health. When you do indulge, be sure to brush your teeth a little while later.
Brushing Thoroughly and Correctly
Don’t rush through your brushing! Brushing your teeth poorly is barely better than not brushing at all. Spend two minutes (at least!) brushing your teeth, making sure to reach all surfaces. Use gentle circular motions and light pressure to avoid damaging your gums.
Brush before you go to bed and after you wake up in the morning. Your mouth is more susceptible to plaque buildup overnight because bacteria have extra time to feast on the sugars in your mouth. Without this nightly cleaning, you’re significantly more likely to experience tooth decay, gum disease, and other health issues.
You should also brush after meals, but wait 30 minutes before doing so. Eating stimulates acid production, which softens your tooth enamel, making it more vulnerable to damage if you brush right away after eating.
Ready-To-Use Dental Floss
Flossing is an essential part of keeping your teeth and gums healthy. If you don’t floss daily, tiny bits of food and plaque will build up between your teeth, which your toothbrush can’t reach. Bacteria then feed on these particles, produce acidic waste, and cause bad breath, tooth decay, and gum disease.
If you struggle to include flossing in your daily routine, consider getting a pack of floss picks to make the process easier. However, remember that tools like these may not be as effective as traditional flossing at reaching deeper areas in your mouth.
Scrape Your Tongue
Your tongue can harbor just as much harmful bacteria as your teeth. A convenient way to clean your tongue is to use your toothbrush—simply brush your tongue lightly up and down, forward and backward, then rinse your mouth with warm water.
You can also use a tongue scraper, which is a tool designed specifically for cleaning your tongue. A tongue scraper is a thin, curved piece of metal or plastic that you scrape along your tongue to remove bacteria.
Do this every time you brush your teeth to minimize bacteria and plaque buildup and keep your breath fresh.
Use Mouthwash Too
In addition to brushing and flossing, using mouthwash is a great way to keep your mouth clean and healthy. Look for a mouthwash that contains fluoride and antiseptic ingredients to help prevent tooth decay and gum disease.
If you don’t like the taste or feeling of mouthwash, you can try oil pulling—an ancient ayurvedic practice that involves swishing oil around in your mouth for several minutes to remove bacteria. When you swish coconut oil, or any other edible oil, in your mouth for several minutes, the lipids in the oil bind to the lipids in the bacteria’s cell membranes, making it easy to rinse and spit them out, leaving you with a fresher and cleaner mouth.