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10.23.2017

For dental health, practice “the daily four”

How well do you keep up with your oral hygiene? The American Dental Hygienists’ Association recommends practicing the daily four to keep your mouth healthy: brushing twice daily, flossing once a day, using mouthwash and chewing sugar-free gum. However, not many people meet these recommendations and often experience tooth decay, cavities, gingivitis, and more. Furthermore, poor oral health can lead to effects on your overall health! Try these tips to stay on top of your oral hygiene.

  1. Brush twice daily for at least two minutes each time. You read that right, two minutes! Anything less doesn’t properly clean your mouth. Be sure to clean every surface of your teeth and along the gum line. Aim for gentle strokes to avoid hurting your gums.
  2. Floss once a day. When using floss it is important to go in between every tooth. Push and pull the floss through your teeth while also moving it up and down. Aim to make a C shape around the bottom of your tooth.
  3. Use mouthwash. Rinsing with mouthwash will help you get an extra clean feeling as well as assist in reaching harder-to-reach places. Swish mouthwash all throughout your mouth and gargle with it for 30 seconds.
  4. Chew sugar-free gum. Per the American Dental Association, chewing sugar-free gum can help promote saliva flow “to neutralize and wash away acids” from food.

Additional tips

  • How old is your toothbrush? If you’ve been using it for 3 months or more, it is time to toss it. Depending on how you brush your teeth, you may have to ditch it sooner. If your bristles are frayed, flat and spread out, it is time to pick up a new one.
  • Go see your dentist! Most dental plans will cover two teeth cleanings per year at little or no cost (always check with your insurance prior to your appointment to be sure). Take advantage of these cleanings to keep your teeth and gums healthy.
  • Reduce your sugar intake. Sweets can increase your chances of developing cavities and other oral health issues, even if you are diligent at keeping your mouth clean.
  • Watch your overall eating habits. While it may seem a little excessive to brush your teeth after every meal, it’s actually not necessarily a bad habit to get into. Residual food and beverages can start the process of tooth decay.
  • Avoid tobacco use. Tobacco has negative effects on every part of your health; your mouth is no different. In fact, tobacco users have a higher risk of developing oral health implications.

For Health Advocate members

If you’re a Health Advocate member with access to the wellness coaching component of our Wellness Program, call your Wellness Coach for more great health tips!