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You hear it over and over–brush your teeth. Floss your teeth. Watch what you eat. Limit your sugar (and acids!). But for some people, it’s easier to follow those basic dental hygiene routines if they understand WHY they are doing it. Let’s explore the basics of dental hygiene, and what each piece does for your mouth.

Brush and Floss: Probably the most-heard dental advice is to brush and floss your teeth– and for good reason. Brushing and flossing is the foundation of good oral hygiene. Indeed, we have heard this counsel since we were children, but some people still struggle. Let’s review: brush your teeth twice each day for two minutes each time. Some people find it helpful to set a series of four 30-second timers, one for each quadrant of the mouth. This helps them get a thorough clean throughout the mouth. Floss once each day. This should take two to three minutes each session.

Brushing and flossing using proper techniques prevent plaque buildup. Plaque is that unsightly film on your teeth and gums. It is made of living bacteria, which eat the sugars left in your mouth that are contained in leftover food particles. The bacteria in the plaque create an acidic byproduct that coats the teeth and erodes tooth enamel until a cavity forms. Brushing and flossing serves to remove both the bacteria and food particles from teeth, thus reducing cavity formation.

Reduce Acid Intake: Extended acid exposure causes cavities. Not only can acid from bacteria be the culprit, but acidic foods and drinks can also erode enamel directly. It is best to reduce or eliminate your intake of acidic drinks, such as wine, soda, energy drinks, and sports drinks. If you do choose to consume these beverages, use a straw if you can. This will help protect the teeth from getting an acid bath.

Chew Gum: After eating or drinking, the acids present in the food and drink temporarily soften the tooth enamel. Thus, it is best not to brush soon after eating (unless directed to do so by your dentists). Instead, invite the body’s natural defense–saliva–to do the work. Do this by chewing a piece of sugarless gum! The excess saliva created by chewing the gum will wash food particles away from teeth and help to neutralize the acid. This gets your teeth ready for brushing.

For more information, call Complete Dental Care in Steubenville, Ohio, at 740-264-6811. Our team looks forward to seeing you soon!