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by JS Dental Lab |

Routine Dental Care Checklist

There’s a popular saying in the dental field that goes, “You don’t have to brush all your teeth. Just the ones you want to keep!”

It’s funny because it’s accurate, but there is more that goes into your dental health than brushing twice a day. 

Many people assume that they will never get cavities or have oral health problems because they brush regularly. But the fact remains that if you want to keep your natural teeth for your lifetime, you’re going to have to put some effort into the care of your teeth. 

But don’t worry! The happy news is that it doesn’t take hours of work daily to maintain or improve your oral health. A few minutes each day and a few strategic habit changes are all that you need — and we’re happy to show you how.

Ready to make sure your routine dental care checklist matches up with the experts’ version? This guide will take you from morning to bedtime and beyond to maximize your oral health as much as possible.

It All Starts With the Brush

How well you brush your teeth matters just as much as how many times a day you do it. It is the cornerstone of good oral hygiene.

Think of brushing as an art. There’s a process to it that creates an amazing finished product on the canvas that is your lovely smile.

The first step in that routine is to find the right brush.

Choosing the “Tooth” brush 

This step makes caring for your teeth more manageable. But just because the price tag is hefty doesn’t mean the brush is optimal. You have to look at the bristles, not the fancy features.

Each brush has a label that describes the bristles as soft, medium, or hard stiffness. Some people think that the harder the brush, the more scrubbing power it has, so it has to be a good thing. 

The problem with this is that if you aren’t gentle with your teeth and gums, it can cause inflammation. It would be best if you choose a soft-bristled toothbrush and a strong toothpaste, which is the next step in the process.

Painting Your Teeth With the Right Toothpaste

Choosing the best toothpaste for your enamel and gums depends on what you want from the results. 

So please ask yourself: what’s my individual oral hygiene goal?

For instance, if your teeth are less than pearly white, you might want to try a whitening toothpaste. 

Once you know your goal, look for a brand-name toothpaste that the American Dental Association (ADA) approves. Then, find one by that brand that meets your goal and that contains fluoride. 

You’ll see options for a variety of dental issues, including:

  • Whitening toothpaste
  • Enamel and gum restore
  • Sensitive teeth and gums
  • Cavity protection

Right now, the jury is out on charcoal toothpaste. Some experts consider charcoal products to be too abrasive to use on enamel. Using it as an active ingredient in your toothpaste may cause sensitivity issues.

Check Your Brushing Technique

It might sound crazy, but you could be brushing your teeth wrong, even if you’re using the right brush.

What? Brushing is brushing, right?

Well, not exactly. But if you follow our simple brushing techniques, you can get rid of the bacteria hiding in hard-to-reach crevices while still being gentle on your teeth and gums.

How to Brush Like a Pro

To check your current technique, watch yourself as you brush and look for these characteristics:

  • Do you hold your brush straight or angled? The best position is to brush at a 45-degree angle in relation to your gums.
  • Are you scrubbing with big, aggressive strokes to finish the job faster? You should brush gently with short, back-and-forth strokes about the size of a tooth.
  • Are you cleaning the whole tooth or just the front? Be sure you cover the outer, inner, and chewing surfaces of each tooth. Interior surfaces are harder to reach, but you can get those tough spots if you turn your brush to a vertical position.

In addition to how you brush, when you brush matters, too. 

It’s best to brush your teeth in the morning to get rid of any bacteria that accumulated overnight. Then, do it again before you go to bed to eliminate anything you picked up through the day that could cause your teeth to decay.

Add Your Accessories

Close-up of a woman flossing her teeth

Adding a couple of accessories to your routine dental care is highly recommended. 

How often do you floss currently? If you’re like most of us, it’s something you think about when you can’t get that piece of stuck food to come loose.

But we hope that you’ll up your floss game after reading this. And we’re here to help show you how!

Floss Like a Boss

Dentists recommend flossing your teeth every time you brush them. That little smooth string may not look like much, yet, it boosts the health of your gums and teeth.

By flossing correctly, you get rid of the bacteria that the toothbrush didn’t reach. Those same bacteria thrive and multiply if you don’t floss, eventually leading to tooth decay and gum disease.

Since it can get complicated (and painful if you haven’t flossed in a while), the product you use is essential. Look for a brand that advertises it’s comfortable to use. It will slide between your teeth easier and won’t cut into your hands as you use it.

If you’d prefer something more robust than string, proximal brushes work well. Similar to a toothpick, they fit between the spaces in your teeth and gum line. Or, grab a pack of floss threaders if you have tightly packed teeth or braces.

Rinse With Mouthwash

Your new oral hygiene routine should end with a swish of therapeutic mouthwash. 

We specify “therapeutic” because you can also get cosmetic kinds over the counter. These work well if your goal is to whiten your teeth, but they’re not ideal for your daily routine.

Therapeutic mouthwashes give your mouth a complete rinse before you walk away. Getting an ADA-approved brand, like Listerine, will keep the plaque under control and improve or prevent gum disease and tooth decay. 

And as a welcome bonus, your breath will smell fresh and clean for hours.

Be aware, though, mouthwash with alcohol can cause dry mouth, so please avoid it. Also, children six years old and under should never use mouthwash, as they might accidentally swallow it.

With a finishing touch of floss and mouthwash, your masterpiece of clean enamel and gums is complete!

Watch Your Diet

You probably already know that water is crucial for your skin and other organs. But did you know that it also affects your teeth and gums?

Dehydration and Dental Issues

When you don’t drink enough water, dehydration starts. But how much you think you need and how much your body thinks can be two different things.

Not everyone is a “water drinker.” Staying hydrated with healthy beverages is crucial to your health. Keep in mind that drinks like soda, coffee, tea, and alcohol don’t count.

If you take medicine, it can dehydrate your body, too. The first signs of dehydration are dry skin and dry mouth.

When you notice these two symptoms, it’s time to start drinking more water. 

Doing so averts dry mouth, which can lead to gum disease, decayed teeth, and cavities. 

Your Diet and the Dentist

What you eat affects your dental health and when to see the dentist, too. The more carb- and sugar-laden your diet is, the more dental issues you’re likely to have.

To keep your teeth healthy, avoid foods and habits like:

  • Daily sweets
  • Sugary drinks
  • Chewing ice
  • Tobacco products
  • Acidic foods like pickles and citrus
  • Red wine

Overall, there are three rules of thumb for your dental diet. 

First, anything with a high carb content isn’t healthy for your body, including your teeth and gums. 

Second, staining foods and beverages get into the dentin of the enamel and discolor your teeth. If it stains your clothes, it stains teeth.

Third, too much acid is never a good thing. When you eat foods with a high acid content, it can damage your enamel. Minimize how much you consume, and brush your teeth after your meal.

With these tips and lots of water, your diet can help you avoid dental visits outside of routine checkups.

Wear Your Appliances

closeup of a man putting in his mouthguard

Dentists recommend retainers, mouth guards, and other oral appliances for a reason. And if you use an oral device, ensure you wear yours daily until your dentist or orthodontist tells you otherwise.

But how do you know if you need to wear a dental appliance if you don’t already? Sometimes, the problems you have aren’t significant enough to head to a specialist just yet. 

Symptoms like neck pain and a popping jaw could mean there’s an issue in the works. You can possibly prevent a costly doctor’s visit by wearing a mouth guard. 

We’ll discuss the best ones for you and your oral health next.

Are OTC Mouth Guards Helpful?

Trying a night guard because you think you might have the beginnings of TMJ or bruxism (grinding and clenching your jaw) is a great first step! 

However, avoid using OTC molds or cheap online appliances. It is a mistake people make when they’re not sure what to buy. But these types of oral appliances have a lot of drawbacks.

Keep in mind that night guards aren’t a cure for bruxism or TMJ. They protect your teeth from the damage of grinding and clenching, not stop it entirely. For that, you need to get to the root of the behavior.

The dental appliance can prevent the problem from extending into painful and sensitive teeth if it fits right. The main reason over-the-counter models don’t work is that they’re not customized to your teeth.

Even the cheap boil-and-bite kits don’t fit like the proverbial glove. Wearing one can be bulky and uncomfortable. And if you can’t sleep with it in, what good does it do? At best, you’ll set it aside and forget about it. At worst, it can increase your symptoms.

Custom-Made Night Guards

With mail kits through professional companies like JS Dental Lab, you get the best of both worlds. 

Because you work directly with a real technician, your appliance has a personalized touch. They can also answer any concerns you have quickly.

The entire process is streamlined and efficient, starting with the kit that comes in the mail. You follow the simple directions, return the mold, and get your new mouth guard within days!

Visit Your Dentist

Visiting the dentist is part of your semi-annual oral care habits. 

Prevention is the best part of any overall health routine. No one likes going to the doctor when there’s nothing wrong, but that’s precisely why they need to go — so it can stay that way!

When you have healthcare problems, you need to go to the doctor regularly to handle them. 

Regular dental checkups and dental cleanings keep your teeth clean and healthy. Even more crucially, they give your dentist a chance to spot early signs of possible serious dental problems, like gingivitis or oral cancer.

A Trip to the Dentist

You can’t achieve good oral health without a professional cleaning and examination. But if a dental visit worries you, that’s understandable!

We’ll share typical dental visit scenarios with you so you feel more comfortable with the process.

A Dental Cleaning

The hygienist uses professional tools to scrape and scrub every bit of plaque and tartar buildup off your teeth and gums. It might tickle a little, but your teeth feel brand new afterward.

Dental X-rays

Your dentist will take X-rays once or twice a year. This lets them know if your healthy teeth are still looking good below the surface. Certain conditions, like periodontal disease, can be seen early in an X-ray.

Why Cleanings and Exams Matter for Your Health

Preventative teeth cleaning and exams can thwart an emergency root canal or tooth loss later. These types of procedures necessitate costly dental implants and fillings.

So as you can see, keeping your dental appointments is very beneficial!

Conclusion

Daily dental care and regular visits for cleanings and exams keep your teeth and gums healthy. 

When you need more than prevention, be sure to work with professional experts you can trust, like your family dentist and JS Dental Lab.

Our experts guide you through every step of the process, from the initial impressions to mouth guard after care. Reach out to us today with any questions you may have. We’re happy to help!