Arianna Marsden, RDH
New Year’s Resolutions and Goals
It’s a shiny new year, and during this time people are making resolutions and setting goals for the year, so what better time to review proper techniques for dental hygiene! Most people are familiar with brushing and flossing, and make efforts to do at least one or the other regularly. Let’s talk about some of the “life hack” techniques that make your efforts more effective.
When brushing, make sure you’re using a toothbrush that has bristles which are soft or extra-soft. Using a toothbrush with medium, or hard bristles can cause unintended damage to the gums and teeth, specifically trauma-induced recession, and abrasion of the root surface. Some people find that when they switch to a softer toothbrush, their teeth don’t feel as clean. In these scenarios, using a powered toothbrush, such as an OralB Braun, or Philips Sonicare may be a good solution.
Powered toothbrushes with a rechargeable base have been shown to be more effective in reducing inflammation in the gums than a manual toothbrush, which can leave the teeth feeling more clean after brushing, but be careful not to use too much pressure, or you could damage the teeth and gums similarly to using a medium or hard bristle brush. Part of the reason powered toothbrushes may be more efficient, is that they often come with a timer built in! This makes it easier to remember to brush for the full two minutes twice daily. If you prefer to use a manual toothbrush, you can try setting a timer on your phone, or listening to a song that is two minutes long while you brush.
The other half of oral hygiene has to do with cleaning in between your teeth. The most common way to accomplish this, is by using string floss, and “flossing” once daily. To use string floss effectively, its important to wrap the floss around the tooth in the shape of the letter ‘C’. This allows you to clean underneath the gums, and not just in between the teeth. Most people find this traditional method of flossing challenging, or ineffective for a variety of reasons. If this applies to you, there are lots of other alternatives for cleaning between your teeth. You can try using “floss on a stick,” like the Plackers brand, for easier manipulation of the floss. You could also try Softpicks, which are like a toothpick with a soft rubber end. The Softpicks are used by squeezing them between the teeth to remove plaque. Water flossers, like the Waterpik, are another great alternative for cleaning between your teeth by using a controlled stream of water to remove plaque and bacteria from between the teeth.
No matter which method you’re using for cleaning between your teeth, its ideal to do so at least once per day. If that is not an attainable or reasonable goal for you, cleaning between the teeth even a couple times a week is a great start!
A good tip for keeping yourself motivated towards your New Year’s resolutions and goals, is keeping track of your progress and rewarding yourself! You could try keeping a checklist on your calendar, or in your phone for the days you remember to do your brushing and interdental cleaning. Research has shown that if you can do a new practice for about two months, it becomes a habit, and something you won’t have to concentrate so hard on accomplishing. Don’t forget to reward yourself when you meet your goals for oral health! Happy 2018!
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