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A Guide to Proper Oral Hygiene

Today families across Calgary gather together to celebrate the holidays. Decorations, presents, light and food play a huge role in this holiday season. We all want to make sure we stay on the Dentist’s "Nice" list by brushing two to three times per day and flossing at least once per day. Proper oral hygiene is very important for overall health but sometimes it is hard to tell if you are doing it right. To keep you on the right track here is a basic guide to brushing your teeth

  1. Choose the right brush
    We previously discussed how to select the right toothbrush for you. Having the right brush is important, so take care selecting the proper brush for you. If you have arthritis or trouble with your hands, shoulders or arms consider investing in an electric toothbrush to make the job easier.

  2. Don’t rush
    Things can get pretty hectic, especially if you are running out the door to work in the morning. Still, your teeth and gums will thank you for taking the time to do a proper job. Brushing should take at least 2 minutes. Divide your mouth into four sections (top left, top right, bottom left and bottom right) and spend at least 30 seconds on each. Some electric toothbrushes have built in timers to make this process easier, but this isn’t necessary. Set a timer on your phone or use an egg timer. You could also make this task more fun by brushing to 2 minutes of your favourite song.

  3. Everything in moderation
    Though you may think brushing your teeth a lot would be good for them it turns out that brushing more than 3 times per day can actually do more harm than good. Your teeth are covered in a thin outer shell of enamel, which can be worn down by too much brushing. Also ensure you are using a lighter touch when brushing. Brushing too hard also wears down enamel and can damage your gums. It doesn’t take a lot of force to remove plaque.

  4. Perfect your brushing technique
    Yes, there is a proper way to brush your teeth. Wide side strokes are more likely to damage gums. Hold your brush at a 45 degree angle in relation to your gums and brush using short, up and down strokes. Be sure you brush the outer and inner tooth surfaces as well as your back molars and your tongue. Brushing your tongue kills bacteria and freshens breath, improving overall oral health. And don’t skimp on those hard to reach places. If you let plaque build up it can cause serious damage.

  5. Consider your products
    Especially if you have sensitive gums or teeth you should avoid harsh toothpastes that contain ingredients to whiten teeth and/or fight tartar buildup. Whitening particles act like sandpaper, scrubbing away stains. Unfortunately they can also scrub away tooth enamel. When in doubt stick with a plain old fluoride toothpaste or talk to your dentist and see what he or she recommends.

  6. Beware of acidic drinks
    Acidic drinks such as juice, white wine, coffee, pop and energy drinks wreak havoc on tooth enamel, causing it to soften. If you do drink these items make sure you wait at least 30 minutes before brushing to avoid damaging the softened enamel and let your saliva break down the sugars and acids in your mouth. To help increase saliva production and break down sugars more efficiently consider chewing a piece of sugar free gum after you eat or drink.

  7. Keep your brush clean
    Make sure you keep your toothbrush clean to avoid transferring bacteria to your mouth. Store brushes upright in a holder, not on the counter where they might collect bacteria. Ensure your brush has enough room to air dry, and isn’t touching other toothbrushes. When traveling opt for a storage case with holes so that your brush doesn’t stay moist and harbour bacteria growth.

  8. Keep up to date
    Toothbrushes should be replaced at least every 3 to 4 months. To check if your toothbrush needs replacing look at the bristles. Once they start to fray or break it is time for a replacement, Frayed and broken bristles don’t clean as well.

For more information on proper oral hygiene, or to book an appointment, call the Marlborough Dental Clinic today at 403.248.2066 and visit

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