Whether you just had a dental cavity filled or just wish you flossed more consistently, you may realize that you aren’t satisfied with your oral hygiene routine. This realization can come at any age and shouldn’t be a cause for embarrassment but rather a call to action.
To improve your oral hygiene overall, you’ll need to take small steps that build lasting good habits. Start with these five steps toward a more effective oral hygiene routine.
- Consult With Your Dentist
The first step in an effort toward better oral health should always be a trip to the dentist. During your next regular dental cleaning and exam, ask if you can address some of your concerns with your dentist.
Your dentist can make oral hygiene recommendations based on the current health and strength of your teeth, as well as the condition of your oral soft tissues. This consultation can prove vital during the next step of determining where your oral hygiene routine habits are weakest because you’ll already have a professional’s insight.
- Determine Your Weak Points
Lasting changes start with small, manageable changes rather than complete overhauls. Give yourself some time to sit down and honestly determine which of your oral hygiene habits are the weakest.
Do you sometimes forget to brush your teeth on the way out the door? Do you skip flossing more often than you do it? Does your sugary diet undermine all the hard work you do when brushing and flossing? Once you’ve determined where your routine is weakest, make a plan to address that area specifically.
For example, to address the specific hypothetical problems we brought up, you could put two minutes for brushing your teeth on your daily calendar page. To improve flossing, make a goal to floss once more a week than you currently do and increase the number of sessions each week. Start reducing the amount of harmful foods you consume one at a time.
- Make the Whole Day Part of Your Routine
While it’s obviously essential to put in the time to brush and floss thoroughly, you can also begin other habits to keep your teeth healthier overall. To make your average day better for your teeth, your habit changes could include:
- Avoiding food and beverages other than water before you go to bed
- Chewing sugar free gum after you eat to reduce the amount of food particles that stick to your teeth
- Drinking more water to encourage natural saliva production and wash away food particles
Altering your diet to include more tooth-friendly foods can also ensure that your daily activities support a healthy smile. Start with the recommendations in our previous blog, “4 Cavity-Free Cooking Tips.”
- Replace Your Toothbrush and Other Tools
For many individuals, their best efforts toward better oral hygiene are undermined by poor-quality tools. Your toothbrush should be replaced every three to four months, as well as after a viral or bacterial illness. If you haven’t replaced your toothbrush in a while, start fresh.
Choosing equipment that works for you personally can improve the quality of your oral hygiene dramatically. Use your dentist’s recommendations to decide on your brush bristle hardness. You may even want to consider using an electronic toothbrush.
Similarly, if you struggle using traditional floss, handheld “flossers” may be more comfortable for you. If you have particularly sensitive gums, you may even decide to try water flossing. Finding the right combination of at-home dental tools for your comfort and specific health needs ensures that your oral hygiene sessions are as effective as possible.
During your dental consultation, your dentist may also recommend adding a mouthwash or a fluoridated product to your routine to supplement your usual brushing and flossing.
- Time Your Brushing Sessions
One of the most common problems with inadequate oral hygiene routines in adults is that the individuals just don’t spend enough time brushing. Use a stopwatch to time one of your usual brushing sessions. If you come in at less than two minutes, start improving your oral hygiene by setting aside more time.
Set a timer when you brush to ensure that you don’t skimp or skip potentially neglected oral surfaces like the insides of your teeth, your tongue, and your gums. If you have trouble maintaining focus, pick a song that’s approximately two minutes and make it your new oral hygiene jam.
As you designate a small amount of time each morning and each evening for your teeth, you train yourself to include this full routine in your everyday schedule. It may take some time to build up the habit, but being consistent can ensure that you automatically prioritize your oral health for many days, weeks, and years to come.
Use these steps and the recommendations of your dentist to feel confident that you’re doing everything necessary to achieve your best smile.