3 Tips for a Healthy Mouth: Brush, Be Gentle and Care for Your Tongue

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In honor of National Dental Hygienists Week, we have three tips to help you maintain a healthier mouth. A clean mouth is a healthier mouth because you’re keeping harmful bacterial plaque from damaging your smile, preventing tooth decay and gum disease.

Optimal Teeth Brushing Steps

-Get in the habit of brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time. Clean the outside, inside and chewing surfaces of your teeth.
-Find a soft-bristled toothbrush you enjoy using, whether manual, electric or battery-operated, that fits comfortably into your mouth.
-Using a fluoride toothpaste, hold your toothbrush at a slight angle near your gums and gently brush in circular motions (no “sawing”!)
-Rinse your toothbrush well after use and store it upright in an open container so it can air dry without touching another toothbrush.
-Replace your toothbrush (or toothbrush head) every three months or when the bristles start to fray.

Gentle Brushing

Your tooth enamel doesn’t need to be scoured roughly especially when you are cleaning it daily. It’s more a matter of getting into crevices and gently removing oral debris like food particles and bacterial plaque that cause cavities and irritate the gum tissue. Speaking of your gums, harsh brushing, whether with rough strokes or using a hard-bristled toothbrush can wear down tooth enamel and sensitive gum tissue around the gum line. Delicate gum tissue cannot handle rough brushing. Gently remove oral debris and rinse well afterward to get rid of harmful bacteria and food particles. Flossing should also be done daily and carefully so as to clean between tooth surfaces and around the gum line where plaque likes to collect, so be gentle with your flossing while brushing around your gums. You are scrubbing too harshly if your gums bleed after brushing or flossing or are red or swollen.

Tongue Health

Don’t forget to clean your tongue when you brush every day. Your tongue is easy to clean, just add a tiny bit of toothpaste to your toothbrush and brush, starting from the back of the tongue and moving toward the front. You want to clear away odor-causing oral bacteria, but again, there’s no need to scrub harshly. If you prefer, you can use a tongue scraper to clean your tongue. A tongue scraper is typically made from soft plastic that is flexible. Once you are done cleaning your tongue, rinse out your mouth to wash away the oral bacteria and clean your scraper under some warm water. Just use light pressure to clean your tongue so you don’t leave it feeling sore. If you want, you can occasionally rinse your mouth with some warm water and salt to remove bacteria.

We hope you find these tips helpful as you take good care of your mouth in between routine dental cleanings. At Valley View Dental in Romeoville, Naperville, Montgomery, Illinois, and the surrounding suburban areas, our dental hygienists are always happy to help you find better ways to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Be sure to ask them any questions you may have about your oral health. They love to help!