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Good oral hygiene helps improve your overall health, prevent cavities and gum disease, and prevent bad breath. Here are a few tips.

Brushing your teeth regularly

It is important to brush your teeth at least twice a day to prevent bad breath. Focus on brushing the outer, inner, and chewing surfaces of each tooth. If you only brush the front of your teeth, you’ll miss a lot of the places where food and bacteria can get trapped. Don’t neglect the back of your teeth either – these areas often have pits and ridges that can trap food, too. Also, change your toothbrush every three to four months or sooner if the bristles are frayed. A worn-out toothbrush won’t do a good job of cleaning your teeth and can cause irritation to your gums. New toothbrushes can remove more plaque from your teeth and improve your breath.

Toothbrushes aren’t just for cleaning teeth – they’re also really good for scrubbing the tongue! The tongue has lots of small grooves where food and bacteria can collect and cause bad breath. Gently brush your tongue with your toothbrush to remove debris and improve your breath.

Flossing daily

When flossing, it is important to reach certain areas of your mouth that your toothbrush just can’t get to. This includes the backs, fronts, and tops of your molars and the gums behind your bottom front teeth. The gum line is also very important to clean with floss as food particles and bacteria can get stuck here. If you find it difficult to get the floss between your back teeth, use an interdental cleaner or water flosser.

Brushing your tongue

Many people don’t brush their tongues — they should! The bacteria on and around our tongues can contribute to bad breath. Using a toothbrush or a tongue scraper designed to clean your tongue is your best bet. Your dentist may also recommend an antimicrobial mouthwash to help treat your bad breath.

Cleaning your dentures/dental appliances

Your mouth is host to hundreds of bacteria that feed on food particles left behind after you eat. These bacteria produce harmful acids as a byproduct of their decomposition process. When these acids are combined with saliva and food debris, they form a plaque-like substance called biofilm. This substance adheres to teeth and gums and leads to tooth decay and gum disease. A good denture cleaning routine can help remove harmful bacteria from your mouth and keep your smile healthy. Simply brush your dentures daily with a soft-bristled brush and water to remove food debris. It’s also important to have your dentures professionally cleaned once or twice a year by your dentist. You should also regularly soak them in a cleaning solution overnight to help prevent the buildup of bacteria and plaque.

Avoiding dry mouth

Saliva is the mouth’s first line of defense against tooth decay and cavities. A dry mouth doesn’t produce as much saliva as a mouth that has a sufficient amount of moisture. Saliva is a natural cleanser that helps remove leftover food particles, acids, bacteria, and sugar from your mouth after eating. This helps prevent the buildup of plaque on your teeth that can eventually lead to decay and gum disease. Not having enough saliva can also lead to bad breath because the odor-causing compounds in the mouth stay in contact with all the surfaces longer in a dry mouth.

If you are having trouble producing adequate amounts of saliva, talk to your dentist about possible treatment options, such as a special mouthwash that replaces your natural saliva or a prescription medication that can help increase your saliva production. Try to limit the amount of alcohol you consume to allow more saliva to build up in your mouth. Also, use a humidifier at night if your home’s air is too dry.

If you want to learn more, visit the Covington Signature Dentistry office at 27121 174th Place SE, Suite 202, Covington, WA 98042, or call (253) 638-9955 to schedule an appointment.

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