Thursday, November 14, 2013

Seven Steps to Oral Health

As a dentist, I have heard patients swear they brush every day three or more times a day, yet during their dental check-ups they are told they are not doing a good job.

There is a right way and wrong way towards home oral hygiene routine. Even if you brush ten times a day, you may hear the same complaint from your dentist during your visits. This is why it's important to learn the right way.

Popular brands of toothpaste and mouthwash claim to magically prevent tartar, gum disease and cavities. You may be surprised to learn that many of these products contain ingredients that can cause allergies and canker sores as you absorb these substances right through the mouth tissues. Children are most at risk since their targeted toothpaste has added artificial colors and flavors to motivate them to brush.

The toothpaste and mouthwash you use can make a difference, but more important is how you use your toothbrush and floss. In my book, 'Secret Gateway to Health', I list the seven steps to oral health. Follow these steps and you and your dentist will be happy about your dental check-ups.

At bedtime:

1. Rinse with non-alcohol, free of saccharin and artificial colors mouthwash. This helps loosen plaque. 2. Floss thoroughly, making sure you clean under the gums. Wrap about 14 to18 inches of floss around the index finger of each hand, leaving about 1" to 2" length in between. Using your thumbs for support, gently guide the floss around one side of each tooth and gently slide it down all the way under the gums. Do not force it down. Move the floss up and down a few times against the side of each tooth in a 'c' shape.

If you don't know how to do this properly, ask your dentist or hygienist to teach you. Proper flossing makes a big difference and it can be tricky until you get the hang of it. Using it the wrong way may damage your gums.

There is no excuse not to floss every day. If you think there is no time, place your floss in the shower and use it then, or while watching TV.

3. Brush your teeth and gums thoroughly, but gently. Daily buildup of plaque is soft and easy to remove, as long as you clean every side of every tooth. This should take about three minutes. Take your time and be thorough.

4. Clean your tongue with a tongue cleaner. Bacteria hide in the cracks and crevices of the tongue. This is a major contributor to bad breath.

5. Rinse with water.

6. Lastly rinse with mouthwash.

7. In-between brushing and flossing, chew gum with xylitol. Early studies suggest xylitol prevents cavities.

The few minutes you spent daily on these steps, can save you future time and money in the dentist's chair.

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