To keep your teeth and gums healthy, nothing is as effective as regular trips to the dentist. But if your scheduled dental cleaning and oral exam have been canceled or delayed, you need to take proactive steps at home to maintain your oral health.
Here are five tips for a strong oral care routine from Delta Dental’s Daniel Croley, DMD, vice president and chief dental officer. This advice can help you keep your smile healthy until you can get to your dentist.
Make sure your brushing technique is at its best. Dr. Croley recommends brushing for two full minutes, twice a day, on every surface of your teeth.
Don’t brush too hard. Instead, use a gentle circular motion with a soft-bristled brush, since hard bristles may erode your tooth enamel and harm your gums. You can set a timer on your phone to ensure you’re brushing long enough.
And don’t forget your tongue. Plaque and food particles can build up on it and cause bad breath.
Flossing removes disease-causing bacteria between your teeth and below your gumline — spots that your toothbrush can’t reach. When you can’t see your dentist, flossing every day is still the best defense you have against gum disease.
If you have difficulty flossing because of braces, bridge work or dexterity issues, Dr. Croley advises using a floss aid such as a threader or pick to get those hard-to-reach places.
Fluoride is a mineral compound that helps prevent tooth decay. It helps rebuild tooth enamel after it naturally erodes throughout the day. Be sure to select a toothpaste that contains fluoride and has the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance.
You can find a variety of flavors and whitening agents in fluoride toothpaste, so there’s a fluoride option for almost any preference.
Drinking water not only hydrates your body but also works as a natural cleanser for your teeth and mouth. It neutralizes acids that can lead to tooth decay and can even prevent bad breath.
As an added benefit, fluoride is in the tap water in most communities. (See No. 3 for why that’s a good thing!)
Sugar causes tooth decay, and limiting sugar in your food reduces the risk of tooth problems. Eating the right foods can improve your oral health, which can help you cut down on dentist appointments. Snacking on crunchy fruits and vegetables like apples, baby carrots and celery can also stimulate saliva flow to help naturally clean your mouth.
Chewing sugar-free gum stimulates saliva flow in your mouth, which helps to neutralize acids that cause tooth decay.
If you have a dental emergency or need urgent dental advice, consider using teledentistry. Your dentist may be able to provide a virtual consultation over the phone to determine whether you need an in-person visit.
Last updated December 20, 2022
The oral health information on this website is intended for educational purposes only. Always consult a licensed dentist or other qualified health care professional for any questions concerning your oral health.