When it comes to good oral hygiene, a preventive approach is the key to success. This is important at every state of life, but especially the older you get. Neglecting your dental health as you age can have serious consequences, including premature aging of the smile (gum recession and/or tooth discoloration) and the need for extensive and expensive corrective procedures. The good news is that if you follow the simple preventive habits listed below earlier in life, it can help avoid these consequences. Let’s start with effective oral hygiene instructions for adults with a few simple steps:
- Brushing: To get the best oral hygiene results from toothbrushing, use an electric toothbrush. If you’re using a manual toothbrush, hold it at a 45-degree angle to your gums. Use short, circular strokes to move the brush over each tooth. Be sure you brush your teeth at least twice a day, including the front and back sides of all your upper and lower teeth. Take enough time to do a thorough job—up to 2 minutes each. Also, gently brush your tongue to remove odor-causing bacteria that will help give you fresher breath. Replace your toothbrush every three months. Watch out for over brushing, which may result in receding gums.
- Flossing: One method that helps maintain oral hygiene by removing bacteria from areas between the teeth that are hard to reach by brushing alone is flossing. To floss your teeth, start with an 18-inch piece of floss, and wrap most of it around the middle finger of one hand. Wrap a small amount around the middle finger of the other hand. Move the floss carefully up and down between each tooth, and make a C-shape with the floss as you reach the gum line. As you move from tooth to tooth, unwind new floss from one hand and wind the used floss onto the other hand.
- Rinsing: Rinsing with a mouthwash can get to places that your toothbrush and even the deep cleaning of floss can miss. Look for a mouthwash that contains fluoride, because fluoride is proven to strengthen enamel and fight cavities. In addition, a mouthwash such as Crest Pro-Health Advanced strengthens enamel, prevents cavities, and kills bad breath bacteria. A dental rinse is often recommended for additional oral hygiene if you wear braces.