Oral hygiene is one of the most important aspects of both your dental health and the overall health of your body. As much as we don’t like to admit it, our mouths are full of hundreds of different species of germs and bacteria — both good and bad. You may have even heard the myth that dogs have cleaner mouths than humans do, but let’s get down to the facts before kissing our furry friends on the mouth.

About Mouth Bacteria

All humans have some ratio of good and bad mouth bacteria — which is normal as long as you have a healthy balance between the two and maintain good oral hygiene habits at home. When the bad mouth bacteria (Streptococcus, Lactobacillus, and other cavity-causing germs) builds up due to poor brushing and flossing habits, smoking cigarettes, eating lots of junk food, etc., this is when problems begin to arise. In fact, bad mouth bacteria is often the culprit of gum disease, irritation, and inflammation, as well as plaque and tartar buildup, cavities, tooth decay, and bad breath. Some of these consequences can even lead to more serious health risks such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and oral cancer.

On the other hand, “good” mouth bacteria is responsible for fighting off external germs that make their way into your mouth, aiding in digestion, combating bad breath, and keeping the bad bacteria under control. Commonly referred to as the mouth’s “checks and balances” system in the field of dentistry, this good mouth bacteria is essential for keeping everything in line so the mouth can perform normal bodily functions without succumbing to disease. As it turns out, the key to preventing this and maintaining a healthy balance of good and bad mouth bacteria is to establish good oral hygiene habits — and stick to them.

At Trillium Dental in Ottawa, our dentists and dental hygienists care about each and every one of our patients and regularly emphasize the importance of good oral health. Since we usually only see our patients during their bi-annual general dentistry appointments for professional teeth cleanings or when they visit our dental clinic for a cosmetic, restorative, or sedation dentistry procedure, we want to make sure that you are doing everything you can to keep your mouth healthy once you leave our dental office. That being said, here are some tips for staying on top of your oral hygiene at home!

Brush Your Teeth Twice Per Day

Obviously, the first step toward maintaining good oral hygiene at home is brushing your teeth at least twice per day — and doing so thoroughly. Our dentists recommend brushing your teeth for a minimum of two minutes so that every nook and cranny is reached and that the toothpaste has enough time to fully do its job. If you have a hard time remembering to brush this long, consider setting a timer on your phone or buying a cheap little hourglass that runs out after two minutes. And, if the actual act of brushing is the problem, invest in an electric toothbrush to take some of the work out of the process. If you aren’t sure which kind to buy, feel free to give Trillium Dental a call or visit our dental clinic for a recommendation about the best electric toothbrush for you.

Floss Daily

Hand in hand with remembering to brush your teeth twice per day is making a point to use dental floss every day as well. No matter how thoroughly you brush your teeth, the reality is that your toothbrush won’t be able to eliminate all the food buildup, plaque, and bacteria in between your teeth. This is where flossing comes in — it is essential to fully clean your teeth, prevent cavities, and reduce your risk of developing gum disease. However, if your gums bleed, swell, or cause you any pain when you floss, this could be a sign of a gum infection or gingivitis (early-stage gum disease), which should be checked out by your local dentist as soon as possible.

Use Mouthwash

Although mouthwash isn’t always required for preventing cavities and keeping your teeth and gums healthy, it is a great extra step to take if you want to ensure that your mouth isn’t being overcome with bad bacteria. Simply swish a capful in your mouth after brushing and flossing to rinse out any lingering bacteria, which will be killed off as the liquid cleanses your teeth, gumline, and the rest of the oral cavity.

Schedule A Teeth Cleaning Appointment At Trillium Dental In Ottawa

Now that you know a few basic tips for staying on top of your oral hygiene at home, it’s time to put these suggestions to practice by establishing an oral health care routine that works for you. Whether that means investing in an electric toothbrush, trying mouthwash for the first time, or reminding yourself to floss every single day, every change you make to improve your oral health is worth it in both the short and long-term.

Interested in learning more about how you can improve your oral health and keep your mouth free of bad bacteria? Continue to part two of this blog series for more advice about how to maintain good oral hygiene between dental cleanings, and request a dental cleaning at Trillium Dental in Ottawa today!