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Everyone is guilty of occasionally skipping an aspect of our at-home dental care routines. While missing a flossing or other element of our total oral health now and then care can be overcome, repeated neglect of our teeth and gums can lead to bad oral hygiene habits.

Here are five important things to think about when caring for your smile.

1. Brushing Correctly

The American Dental Association recommends holding your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to your gums while you use tooth-length back and forth strokes across the fronts and tops of your teeth.

For the backs of your teeth, hold the brush vertically and use several shorter strokes with a special focus on the back of anterior (front) teeth where plaque builds up often. Brush for a solid two minutes to ensure proper coverage and cleaning.

Additionally, choose a toothbrush whose head and bristles are small enough to navigate the hard to reach areas, including the crevices of your molars, where food debris often remains. Look for the ADA seal on both your toothpaste and toothbrush. Many dentists recommend using a quality electric toothbrush for the best results.

2. Keeping Your Toothbrush Clean

Rinse your toothbrush with hot water after use and allow it to air dry. This is especially important for those with gum disease as leftover bacteria can be released into the bloodstream where it can affect other parts of your body. You should also replace your toothbrush every three months both for cleanliness and to make sure the bristles are effective.

3. Flossing Properly

Gather a piece of floss up to 18 inches in length, using a fresh area of floss for every tooth to prevent redepositing bacteria. The floss should rub against the teeth in a motion that creates a forward or backward 'C' shape, wrapping the floss around each tooth. If flossing is difficult, interdental brushes are a great alternative and easier for some people to use.

4. Using a Mouthwash or Dental Rinse

Mouthwashes and rinses get into crevices that can collect debris and help combat the effects of decay-causing bacteria. There are a wide variety of rinses available to meet the needs of individuals with unique dental issues. Be sure to look for the ADA seal on these products as well.

5. Making Healthy Choices

When snacking, be mindful of the effect your choice is having on the health of your smile. Brush, or at least rinse your mouth with water, after eating sweets. When drinking acidic beverages, rinse immediately and then brush after 30 minutes. This prevents any acid-worn enamel from being brushed away. Also, remember to drink plenty of water to keep your mouth and body hydrated.

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Proper oral hygiene should be part of everyone’s daily routine and can greatly benefit both your smile and your overall health. By following these five dental tips, and seeing your dentist regularly, you can ensure you're doing your best to keep your mouth healthy and beautiful.

To learn more about effective dental care and preserving your smile,

call Edmonton, Alberta Dentist, Dr. Derek Fika, today!

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