By Barrett White
How often should you brush and floss? Are some foods better or worse for oral hygiene?
Media bombards us with so many “best practices” for all aspects of our health: This diet is the best diet for weight loss, or This skincare product is the only one that will erase fine lines, or You will be lost without this new exercise product! Dental hygiene is no different – we have all seen the ads for the “best new toothbrush” and glittering whitening strips. So how do we cut through the noise? We spoke with our Legacy dental team for the final word on healthy teeth and gums.
Let’s start with the basics: What is the recommended schedule for brushing and flossing teeth?
Per Legacy’s dental team, brushing twice daily for two minutes, once in the morning and once in the evening, is best. Think of your mouth as having four parts, or quadrants: The top left and top right, and bottom left and bottom right. Spend about 30 seconds brushing each quadrant.
Flossing is recommended once daily, typically at night.
Are some toothbrushes really better than others? Should we invest in a Quip, Goby, or Colgate Spinbrush?
No brush is necessarily any better or worse. As long as you’re brushing your teeth, you’re doing good! However, an electric brush has been known to produce better results than a manual toothbrush.
I keep forgetting to floss. What can I do to remind myself?
Practice makes perfect! Some experts suggest that it takes a month or so to turn an action into a habit. Try using a sticky note on your bathroom mirror to remind yourself to floss at night before you brush. Over time, the action you once needed a sticky note for will hopefully become a habit – and your gums will thank you!
What can happen if I never floss, even if I do brush twice a day?
Plaque and food particles can accumulate between teeth (where the brush bristles cannot reach), which can eat away the enamel of your teeth, causing cavities and decay. Plaque buildup can even cause gingivitis or severe periodontal (gum) disease. If the plaque becomes tartar, its bacteria can cause bad breath and turn your teeth yellow.
What are some of the biggest concerns for children (under 12) or seniors (over 65)?
For anyone, regardless of age, regular dental appointments (every 6 months) are key to preventing long term damage.
Other than sugar, are there foods that are bad for your teeth? What about foods that are good for your teeth?
Foods that are acidic are typically frowned upon. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consume them – many of these foods are nutritious – but be mindful of how often you do consume them. Foods that are better for your dental health are ones that promote salivary flow.
Acidic foods include:
- Citrus fruits
- High-sodium foods
Foods that promote salivary flow include:
- Sugar-free gum
- Sugar-free lozenges
- Crunchy vegetables
A soft (or very soft) brush is recommended. Avoid Medium and Hard brushes, as they may be damaging to teeth and gums.
To schedule an appointment with your Legacy provider, visit us online or call (832) 548-5000.