Here are our best dental tips, tricks, and insights.

What does a complete oral health plan look like? For starters, it involves a lot more than just brushing and flossing.

Your dental health also depends on your diet and how often you visit the dentist. Plus, there are certain urgent dental matters that will get painfully worse if you don’t get them treated right away.

But don’t worry. We’ve laid out all the steps you need to take to maintain your oral health in this comprehensive oral hygiene guide. From your at-home dental care routine to your regularly scheduled dental visits, you’ll find it all listed below.

Read on to learn everything you need to know about proper oral care.

At-Home Treatment Routine

Let’s start with the basics: the oral health care routine you should be implementing at home. Read these instructions fully and follow these steps in between visits to your dentist.

Brushing

“I already know how to brush my teeth,” says everyone. Well, according to a recent poll, one-third of you are wrong.

This 2019 survey found that one-third of U.S. adults are either brushing too long or not long enough. That means they’re either not keeping their teeth clean enough or they’re damaging their gums by over-brushing.

And these are only two examples of the many ways you might be brushing wrong. To avoid them all, read this quick refresher course on proper brushing.

How to Brush Properly

Use a soft-bristled brush so you don’t damage your gums. If you’re unsure which toothbrush shape or bristle pattern is best for you, have your dentist recommend one.

Hold the handle of the toothbrush with only your thumb and one or two other fingers, not your whole fist. This prevents you from brushing too hard and damaging your gums or wearing out your toothbrush too quickly.

Don’t angle the toothbrush bristles flat against your teeth. Brush with the bristles at a 45-degree angle, pointed at your gumline. Brush in small, circular motions.

Brush every surface of every tooth: cheek-side, tongue-side, and the chewing surface. And don’t forget the backside of your rearmost tooth.

Using a timer, try to spend exactly two minutes brushing your teeth. Finish by brushing your tongue, the roof of your mouth, and behind your lips. These surfaces collect harmful bacteria, too.

Lastly, rinse and spit. And change your toothbrush every month.

Flossing

The plaque that sits between your teeth is just as unhealthy as the plaque you brush off. And your toothbrush doesn’t reach these areas. It makes no sense to clean some parts of your teeth but leave the other parts dirty.

In addition to brushing, you need to floss twice a day to prevent cavities and gum disease. Also, flossing only once in a while causes irritation and inflammation of your gums.

Diet and Dental Health

What you eat, drink, chew, and smoke have a big impact on your oral health. Here are the dos and don’ts of a dental-friendly diet.

Out With the Bad

Avoid or limit foods and substances that are bad for your oral health. These include the following:

  • Acidic foods, such as vinegar, citrus, anything that tastes sour
  • Foods that are high in sugar or starch, like candy, dried fruit, soda, bread
  • Alcohol and tobacco

The worst by far are tobacco, sour candy, and soda. They’re also bad for your health in general. You really ought to cut these out of your life entirely.

In With the Good

Now, here’s what you do want to eat and drink to keep your teeth healthy. First, fiber-rich fruits and vegetables are good because they basically brush your teeth while you eat them.

They also stimulate saliva production to rinse out your mouth. Dairy products do this, also.

Speaking of rinsing, drink lots of water throughout the day, especially after meals and snacks. Fluoridated water is even better for your teeth.

Lastly, chewing sugar-free gum between meals helps remove bits of food from your teeth.

Professional Dental Care

This step is not optional. A perfect at-home oral care routine does not negate the need to visit your local dentist regularly.

You still need dental professionals to remove the plaque and tartar buildup that your regular brushing and flossing have left behind. Besides, visiting the dentist regularly is the only way to identify dental problems early on.

You must visit the dentist every six months for your checkup and professional cleaning. If you don’t, any unidentified problems could become painful and expensive to fix.

Furthermore, if your dentist does identify a problem, and tells you what to do about it, it’s a great idea to do it. Ignoring prescribed treatment will give you the same result as not going to the dentist in the first place. If you don’t get that tiny cavity filled now, it’ll be a root canal later.

Urgent Dental Matters

Speaking of dental issues you shouldn’t wait to fix, there are some that are more urgent than others. Here are a few examples of those, and what happens when you don’t get help fast enough.

Sensitivity or Pain

The scariest reason to visit the dentist is also the most important. For one thing, dentists can usually fix sensitive teeth in minutes by painlessly applying desensitizing agents. This treatment should reduce sensitivity for six months.

If the problem is pain, remember this. Dental pain doesn’t get better on its own. It gets much worse until the root problem is treated.

Swollen, Inflamed, or Bleeding Gums

If that title describes your gums, you probably have some stage of gum disease. Go to the dentist. Remember, it will only get worse if you don’t.

Sores That Don’t Go Away

If a sore in your mouth diminishes in a week or two, it’s no problem. If it doesn’t, it could be any number of problems that you don’t want to get any worse.

White Spots on Teeth or Oral Soft Tissue

White spots that show up suddenly on teeth are an early sign of tooth decay. White spots on soft tissue could be an oral fungal infection called thrush. A white bump could be an abscess.

All of these need to be treated as soon as possible.

Missing, Damaged, and Fixed Teeth

Get emergency dental care right away for chipped, cracked, or lost adult teeth. Also, if you’ve ever had any fillings, crowns, implants, or other dental repairs, you definitely need to see the dentist every six months. Only a dentist can make sure these treatments are still holding strong.

Hiding Your Teeth

Lastly, your smile shouldn’t make you unhappy. When you always hide your teeth because you don’t like how they look, it’s a constant source of stress. Implants, braces, and other cosmetic dental treatments eliminate this stress, improving your health overall.

Keep to This Comprehensive Oral Health Plan

This is your complete oral health plan. If you want gorgeous, pain-free, healthy teeth, don’t neglect any of the tips on this list.

Now, check out these 10 amazing facts about your smile that will make you smile.