While brushing thrice a day would be ideal, sometimes that’s just not feasible. Try and maintain the habit at least twice a day – once in the morning and once in the night. Don’t overdo it though – brushing too often can erode your tooth enamel. Also, brushing soon after eating or drinking acidic foods can increase the risk of tooth abrasion. Hence postpone it to at least 30 minutes after meals.
It’s important to change your toothbrush from time to time. Change your brush every three months or when its bristles start to fray. If your bristles flare sooner than three months, that indicates that you’re brushing too hard.
You should brush your teeth for two to three minutes. Divide the mouth into quadrants and spend at least 30 seconds in each region to clean all surfaces. Don’t brush for too long as that may erode your tooth enamel. People with oral complications like crowned or misaligned teeth or braces may take more time to brush.
Like everything else in life, brushing too is an art form that needs to be done correctly. Never brush horizontally along the gum line as this may cause abrasions on the teeth. What you need to do instead is place your bristles at a 45-degree angle at the gum line and brush up and down with short, circular strokes. Angulate the brush vertically to clean the inside surfaces of your front teeth.
It is very important to remove plaque from all surfaces – outer, inner and chewing – of the teeth. Remember to brush the inner surfaces of teeth where the tongue presses against the teeth.
The grooves and ridges on your tongue can be breeding ground for bacteria. Hence a good oral hygiene practice involves cleaning your tongue too. Ideally, you should use a tongue cleaner to gently scrape your tongue. You may use a toothbrush. However, the bristles are not very effective in cleaning the tongue.
Flossing removes plaque from areas that the toothbrush can’t reach i.e. between your teeth and under the gum line. Also, flossing prior to brushing is thought to facilitate fluoride from the toothpaste to reach between your teeth. Bacteria take 24 hours to colonise and form plaque. Hence, once a day flossing is recommended to prevent the development of plaque. If you floss more often you may end up irritating and damaging your gums.
Most dentists advise use of mouthwash as an additional option for maintaining good oral hygiene.
Dentist visit for periodic general checkup is highly recommended