October just kind of snuck up on you, didn’t it? It seems just yesterday that you were enjoying (or avoiding) the summer heat, and now the weather has cooled, and people are planning for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and several other upcoming holiday festivities. But, did you know that October is also National Dental Hygiene Month? So, in this spirit (and before you and your children gorge on candy in a few weeks), a dentist in Fairfax reveals the top 3 mistakes most people make when taking care of their teeth at home.
1. Not Brushing Long Enough
Did you know that the American Dental Association recommends that you brush twice a day for at least 2 minutes each time? This begs the question, how long do you actually brush your teeth? What about your children?
While many electric toothbrushes have timers, for people with manual brushes, most simply stop when they feel like it, which on average tends to be about a minute. This isn’t enough time to adequately clean every surface of the teeth even for an adult, so this is way too short for children who may be shaky on their brushing habits. Be sure to set a timer on your phone or watch to ensure you and your little ones brush for the right amount of time—a good rule of thumb is to spend about 30 seconds cleaning each half of the top and bottom teeth.
2. Not Flossing
A study published a few years ago discovered that roughly one third of Americans floss every day, another third floss sometimes, and the last third never floss. While brushing is essential, the truth is that this leaves a lot of plaque and bacteria between the teeth that can still cause cavities and gum disease. You only need to floss once a day, and it just takes about a minute, which is much easier than letting a cavity develop and having to take the time and expense to fix it. As a bonus, flossing regularly can lead to fresher breath as well!
3. Not Rinsing
You don’t need to be a dentist to notice that there is a lot going on in your mouth besides your teeth. Your gums, cheeks, and tongue can also harbor bacteria that leads to cavities, infections, and even inflammation that can sometimes turn into oral cancer. After you’ve brushed and flossed, be sure to rinse with either water or a non-alcoholic mouthwash. This will clean the rest of your mouth and remove harmful bacteria that your other tools can’t reach.
A great dental hygiene routine only takes about 5 minutes per day, and in the long run, it can lead to better oral health, less time and money spent at the dentist, and a brighter, more confident smile. Certainly seems worth it, right? Before the holidays get into full swing and you’re enjoying all kinds of sweet treats, make sure you and your loved ones are avoiding these mistakes so you don’t have to deal with an unwelcome dental problem this season.
About the Author
Dr. Sandra Glikman has been practicing dentistry for nearly 25 years, and her number one goal with every patient is to help them avoid dental issues so they don’t have to get them fixed. That’s why she and her team provide a wide range of preventive services and always offer patients advice on how to take great care of their teeth at home. To learn more about how to get the most out of your oral hygiene routine, or to schedule you or your child’s next checkup and dental cleaning in Fairfax, she can be contacted through her website.