Blake Cameron, DDS, Aspen Dental

When was the last time you heard someone say, “I can’t wait to go get my cavity filled!”? My guess is never. If you’re like most people, you would rather have your dental visits end with a congratulations from the dentist, telling you that your home care is excellent and you have no need to come back until your next routine exam and cleaning. So, while we’re still in the spirit of the New Year, let’s get back to basics and see what adjustments we can make to our daily routine that could make that ideal dental visit a reality.

First, let me say, even as a dentist, I have nothing against treats. Instead, I’m all for good oral home care and being smart about what you eat, how much you eat, and how often you eat it. None of this is rocket science; it’s just good sense. Let’s talk about good oral home care first, and we can discuss eating habits next time.

How long are you brushing your teeth? If you don’t have an electric toothbrush with a timer built in, you probably find yourself brushing for what feels like long enough, and then you’re done, right? Try timing yourself and see if you’re actively brushing for a full two minutes, twice a day.

What do you do when you’re done brushing? Do you rinse your mouth out? Do you know what the single active ingredient is in any toothpaste recommended by dentists? It’s fluoride. Fluoride is what helps get your teeth back to their original strength after the onslaught of acid that takes place every time we eat. I’d recommend that you don’t rinse your mouth out after brushing. I know that may sound strange, but go ahead and try it. You can brush your tongue off or use a tongue scraper when you’re done brushing, but see if you can let the fluoride work on your teeth a little longer. It may take a few days or weeks to get used to, but it will give your teeth added strength.

Should we talk about flossing? I don’t want to give you a guilt trip if it’s not your forte. Trust me, you’re in good company. Fewer people floss than care to admit, but flossing daily will prevent the most common type of cavity: the cavity between teeth.

Finally, let’s talk about mouthrinses. Mouthrinse can do more than just freshen your breath, although that is a nice benefit. Mouthrinses can help combat the harmful bacteria in our mouths that make our gums bleed (a sign of some forms of gum disease). Use a mouthrinse with the added benefit of fluoride to help keep your gums happy and to protect your teeth even more.