Tips for Night-time Oral Care: Don’t Forget to Brush!
You’ve probably heard that you should brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss, but did you know you need to take care of your teeth at night, too? Brushing and flossing daily/nightly removes plaque while it’s still soft so that it won’t harden into tartar. Once it does, it can only be removed by a professional dental hygienist or dentist.
Three components to your nighttime oral care:
There are three basic components to a good nighttime oral hygiene schedule:
Whether you brush or floss first doesn’t really matter, as long as plaque and leftover food particles are removed. However, there are a couple of differing opinions on this: some experts say that you should probably brush first, then floss, and then finish up with mouthwash. (Brushing first can make it easier to floss.)
Alternatively, some experts say that you should floss first because the fluoride from the toothpaste can get between your teeth better if plaque and debris are removed. The choice is really up to you and your dentist.
Brushing removes plaque buildup and can prevent tooth decay, as long as you use fluoride toothpaste. Use a soft bristled brush and brush your teeth at a 45-degree angle in relation to the gums. Brush back and forth gently in short strokes the width of each tooth. Brush outside tooth surfaces, then inside tooth surfaces, and finally, chewing surfaces.
How often should you brush?
The old standard of “at least twice a day” is a good one, although your dentist may tell you something different. That’s because the risk for dental disease is different for each person, and dentists now follow models of dental disease to figure out what each of their patients should do to take care of themselves. If you’re at a low risk for cavities and gum disease, you can wait until bedtime to brush; however, if you’re at high risk for cavities and gum disease, you should brush both just after dinner (or after your last snack), and at bedtime, both.
You need to floss because flossing allows you to remove plaque and food debris from between teeth that your brush can’t reach. If you floss every day, you can also help prevent periodontal, or gum, disease.
To floss, use an 18-inch long strand, wind most of it around your middle finger and hold a small section tautly between thumbs and forefingers. Gently guide the floss between your teeth and user rubbing motion to gently move it back and forth. Move toward the gum line, and snuggled the curve of the floss against the teeth rubbing back and forth again. At the root of each tooth, slide the floss into the space between the gum in the tooth and continued to “rub” gently. Move the floss up and away from the gum gently, and repeat for each tooth.
(If you are susceptible to gum disease, you may be told to floss twice a day.)
Rinse with a therapeutic over-the-counter mouthwash (or a prescription mouthwash given to you by your dentist), and swish vigorously between teeth. Follow the instructions on the package. Using therapetic mouthwash kills bacteria, helps keep teeth and gums healthy, and your breath fresh.
Over-the-counter therapeutic mouthwashes can help strengthen teeth, or prevent plaque and/or gingivitis. There are different formulations for different needs, such as tartar control, added fluoride, etc. but if a mouthwash has the American Dental Association‘s seal of approval, it should be fine to use. Avoid using mouthwashes that haven’t been approved by the ADA and that just “freshen breath.”