Dental checkups can be nerve-wracking: for that hour every 6 to 12 months, nothing in the world seems more daunting than disappointing your dentist. On the other hand, there are few feelings of relief and ecstasy comparable to that of walking out of your dentist’s office with a clean slate. Fortunately, we’ve provided a short list of important rules to caring for your teeth the way your dentist wants you to. If you’re feeling a little anxious about an upcoming dental appointment and need some guidance on acing that test, look no further.
Tip #1: Brush well.
Many people think that the harder you brush, the more plaque you’ll remove. In reality, taking your time is more important than scraping up the surface of your teeth. Make circles on each tooth with your toothbrush, which should be composed of soft or medium bristles. Make sure you don’t stay too far from your gums; brush along your gum line and the surface of your tongue. Replace your toothbrush every 4 months, or when the bristles start to wear down or splay outward. Store your toothbrush away from your toilet; bacteria build up on your toothbrush every day, so if you’re using an old toothbrush that lives in a small bathroom, you may be adding on bacteria instead of brushing it away.
Tip #2: Supplement your brushing.
Most dentists will tell you that flossing, and often neglected step in cleaning your teeth, is just as important as brushing – without the two methods together, your mouth is at added risk for bacteria growth and tartar buildup. In order to keep your mouth truly clean, floss twice a day after brushing, and follow up with a dental rinse with antiseptic. Fluoride rinses and anti-plaque washes can keep that just-brushed feeling for several hours, and products like Listerine are available over the counter and kill up to 99% of bad bacteria in the mouth if used properly.
Tip #3: Rinse after you eat.
Sometimes it’s not enough to brush twice a day. In fact, many dentists recommend that you brush your teeth after each meal. If you don’t have the time or tools to brush after you eat, try simply rinsing your mouth with water or mouthwash after you eat. When you add this layer of bacteria removal to your twice-daily brushing and flossing habits, it helps prevent plaque buildup during the day while you’re away from your toothbrush.
Tip #4: Delay tooth stains with gum or mouthwash.
If you’re big into coffee, tea, or soft drinks, your dentist will be able to tell simply by looking at the surfaces of your teeth. Generally, all food and drinks (except water) will contribute to gradual breakdown of your tooth enamel and can lead to staining. However, if you find yourself drinking coffee, tea, wine, or sodas every day, your teeth may become stained more quickly. If you can, rinse your mouth with water or chew a sugar-free gum after consuming these drinks to wipe away some of the staining agents. Be careful how soon you brush; with very acidic food or drink, brushing immediately after consuming can actually wear down your teeth.
Tip #5: Don’t cram for the big test.
Be honest with your dentist: if you’ve gone the whole year without flossing much, your dentist will be able to tell, even if you floss like crazy the hour before your checkup. In fact, flossing or brushing harshly the day of your dental exam may do more harm than good. Your gums will be weak and more prone to bleeding, so flossing a lot after a long period of not flossing may irritate and damage your mouth. Similarly, brushing harshly the day of your appointment will likely not remove much of the stains or tartar that have built up over the past few months; pushing hard on your toothbrush can push back your gums, causing them to recede, which exposes more of the root of your tooth and can cause discomfort and tooth sensitivity.
Perhaps most importantly, following your dentist’s instructions for caring for your mouth is the most important aspect of any individual dental hygiene routine. If you have questions about the best way to prepare for your dental checkup, contact Hinsdale Dental today.Return to Blog