Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Good Nighttime Routine Is Key to Dental Health

Taking care of your mouth is a job that never ends; it's important to brush your teeth after meals throughout the day to keep food residue from contributing to decay. However, taking another few minutes just before bed to maintain oral health is another essential step towards keeping healthy teeth and gums.

Why is nighttime oral care so important?

While you're sleeping, you're generally not swallowing and stimulating saliva glands to keep producing. This means that any bacteria in your mouth aren't getting washed away by saliva; instead, they're staying in your mouth throughout the night, consuming any sugars or carbohydrates they can find and contributing to decay. This is the reason for 'morning breath,' or the unpleasant odor your breath generally has when you wake up.

How can you keep bacteria at bay while you sleep?

Just before you go to bed, it's important to brush, floss, and rinse. Start with your ADA-approved toothpaste of choice and brush your teeth for about two minutes; you can set a timer or listen to a song to time yourself if you like. Make sure you reach every surface of your teeth while brushing. One method is to brush the fronts of all of your teeth, then go back through and get the chewing surfaces and the back.

Once you're finished brushing, it's time to floss. Take a length of floss and wind each end around your index finger, then pinch the middle between your index finger and thumb. This gives you maximum hold and control over your floss. Move the floss gently in to the spaces between every set of teeth, being careful not to snap or force the floss in to place as this can result in injury to the soft tissues in your mouth. Move your floss gently up and down, then around the bottoms and sides of each tooth, using new, clean sections of floss as you go.

The last step in a good nighttime dental ritual is mouthwash. There are many different types available; depending on your individual needs- you may want a whitening mouthwash, or an alcohol-free brand. You should use about a mouthful- enough to thoroughly rinse all the surfaces of your mouth, but not so much that you have trouble swishing or accidentally swallow some. Swish and gargle your mouthwash for about 45 seconds, then spit it out in to the sink. Don't rinse your mouth with water after using mouthwash; you want to allow it to continue working for as long as possible.

Anything else to keep in mind?

Make sure you save your nighttime routine for after you're finished eating for the evening. Snacking after you've brushed and flossed puts more bacteria-encouraging residue back in to your mouth after you've just cleaned it. If you suffer from dry mouth or another health issue that affects your teeth or gums, see your dentist for recommendations on the best types of toothpaste and mouthwash for you. As always, don't forget to schedule regular checkups and cleanings with your dentist to keep your teeth in the best shape possible.

A health enthusiast, F.R. (Felix) writes tips for keeping your fitness and oral health in top condition. Look for related topics from a high quality dentist in Arlington, TX who is the dentist for the Texas Rangers baseball team. His Arlington dentistry specializes in reducing anxiety using stress-free dental care in a comfortable environment and custom teeth whitening.
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