Every day it’s the same old routine: you brush your teeth, you (hopefully) floss, and you check you breath to make sure you’re not offending anyone throughout the day. Does it ever seem like taking care of your mouth is an automatic thing you don’t pay much attention to?
A lot of people feel that way, and unfortunately that attitude doesn’t do a lot to promote good habits. When you settle into a routine of daily oral care it’s easy to get a bit lax about things. We see plenty of patients in Oregon City who’ve ended up with problems because of a bit of oral hygiene slack. Today we’re going to go through a regular day so you can learn how to make the most of that routine care.
Early In The Morning …
Before you hit the street and get your day started you’ve gotta get ready: breakfast, a shower, and oral hygiene are all parts of that routine, but did you know that the order you do them in can make a huge difference?
Most of us brush our teeth after we eat. We think of brushing as something we do to remove food particles from our mouths, but the reality is quite different: we brush to get rid of plaque bacteria that’s been building up since you went to bed!
Plaque is that sticky, nasty stuff that coats your mouth. It’s a biofilm made of bacteria, and it causes cavities by producing acids that erode your teeth. Guess how it does that? By metabolizing sugars in the foods you eat.
The best way to prevent breakfast-related cavities is to brush as soon as you get up. You’ll be getting rid of the bacteria in your mouth so you can eat without as much worry. If you’re concerned that your mouth won’t feel fresh after breakfast don’t worry – less bacteria means less gross feeling and bad smell. You can also rinse with some mouthwash or water to clean your mouth out too – it’s actually a really good idea.
What’s your midday meal habit? If you’ve ever spent time in an office you’ve probably seen someone brushing their teeth after lunch and thought, “hey – I should do that.” Honestly, you shouldn’t. Especially if you’re doing it after your midday meal.
We mentioned the acid attack your teeth suffer when you eat, and we said that you should brush your teeth before you eat instead of after. We didn’t mention some of the specific reasons why brushing afterward is bad, though.
Plaque acids weaken the enamel on your teeth, softening it to the point that it can be scratched, scraped, or – you guessed it – brushed away. If you head straight for the bathroom after a meal you could actually be doing a lot more damage to your teeth than just leaving those food particles and acid in there!
If you really have to freshen your breath after lunch there are ways you can do it that don’t involve damaging your teeth by brushing when you shouldn’t be. You can use some mouthwash, rinse with water, or take our advice and chew some sugar-free gum.
Sugarless gum is excellent at cleaning your mouth because it stimulates saliva production, smells fresh, and even the sweetener itself can have benefits! Xylitol, an alternative sweetener derived from sugar alcohol, is actually sweeter than sugar and it can protect your teeth! Xylitol sticks to the surfaces of your teeth and repels bacteria, making it harder to stick to the surface and produce acids. Just a bit of gum after lunch can make a huge difference!
It’s Evening Time …
The same brushing rules as breakfast and lunch apply: wait at least 30 minutes after a meal to brush, and don’t be too rough on your teeth. The big difference in your evening routine is flossing. It’s not something we like to do – in fact most of us hate it – but it’s completely necessary for a healthy mouth.
All that plaque bacteria that builds up on your teeth builds up between them too. Brushing isn’t enough to get rid of it, which is why the spaces between your teeth are the most vulnerable spots in your mouth. It only takes plaque bacteria a day to start causing gum irritation, so if you’re not flossing every night you’re doing your mouth a disservice!
The Last Part Of Good Oral Health
Be sure that you’re rounding out a good daily routine with a good twice annual routine of professional checkups at our Panama City office. We’ll be able to spot problems early, clean those hard-to-reach places, and ensure that your smile is in tip-top shape for years to come!