Beam is a huge proponent of preventative dental care. It’s why we send Beam Perks to our members, providing them tools that help them maintain bright smiles. Taking a proactive approach to your dental health by brushing and flossing can stave off problems such as cavities and gum disease. Another key to preventative dental care is visiting your dentist for exams and cleanings twice per year. However, that part of the equation isn’t possible for many people right now due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Even as dental offices in some states start to reopen, you may not feel comfortable visiting one just yet.
That gives brushing and flossing heightened importance. While you need a dental hygienist to thoroughly remove plaque and tartar on your teeth, a strong at-home regimen can do a pretty good job until you can schedule your next cleaning.
Here are a few reminders about brushing and flossing to keep in mind as you self-isolate.
Brush for two minutes twice per day
You probably know you should brush your teeth twice a day, but make sure you do so for two whole minutes; it helps you remove more plaque1. Using the right technique will further maximize how much plaque you can remove. Keep at a 45-degree angle toward the gumline and use a back-and-forth motion2. Avoid the temptation to brush hard as it doesn’t get your teeth any cleaner — it actually damages your enamel and contributes to gum recession3. Gentle pressure with a soft-bristled brush is all you need! Don’t forget to brush your tongue, as bacteria can build up there, too. Tongue scrapers are even more effective at eliminating bacteria4.
Wait to brush for one hour after eating
Bacteria interact with certain foods to release acid that can soften and wear down the enamel on your teeth. Saliva counteracts and neutralizes the acid, but it needs time — about an hour — to do its job. By brushing too soon, you can wear away enamel before saliva has a chance to repair early damage. Waiting can keep this protective layer intact. In the meantime, drink a glass of water to wash away food and bacteria5.
Floss once per day
Flossing removes plaque between your teeth that a toothbrush can’t reach. Wrap the floss between your middle fingers, hold it in a C shape, and gently glide it between and around your teeth6. Don’t snap it between the teeth because this can damage your gums. One study found that flossing before brushing may maximize plaque removal7; however, doing them in either order is still effective.
Don’t open packages with your teeth
If you’re getting more deliveries to your home due the pandemic, avoid the temptation to open any plastic packaging with your mouth. This increases the risk of cracking your teeth or injuring your jaw8. The same goes for bottles. Use scissors or a bottle opener if you can’t open something with your hands!
Eat a healthy diet
Nutrition plays a crucial role in preventative care. It’s easy to turn to unhealthy comfort foods during times of stress, which can adversely affect the mouth. Our last blog covered how diet and dental health interact, as well as habits you can adopt to keep your mouth healthy — go check it out!