Four Basic Cornerstones of Oral Hygiene

Everyone wants to have a nice smile, and that starts with a basic oral hygiene routine.  But, oral hygiene isn’t just for your teeth or gums. More and more studies show that oral health can be linked to heart health, diabetes, and stroke, according to the American Dental Association. This article explains the possible link. More research is needed, but the correlation is interesting, isn’t it?

Let’s look at the four cornerstones of good oral hygiene:

clean teeth


Most dentists recommend a soft-bristled brush and a fluoride toothpaste. The brush should fit comfortably in your mouth and you should be able to maneuver it into all of the areas you need to brush. Pick a toothpaste with a flavor you really enjoy.

Use the brush at a 45-degree angle from your gums. Brush the outer, inner, and chewing surfaces of each tooth. Use short strokes and work the brush in a circular motion to get into the cracks and crevices. Take your time and do a good job. Turn the brush to a vertical position to brush the inner surface of the front teeth. Then brush your tongue and the roof of your mouth, because yucky bacteria hide there!

Some people have a favorite song they play while they brush, a timer of sorts to make sure they don’t cut their brushing time short. Look through your favorites! This works great for kids, too.

Electric toothbrushes have developed a good reputation since all you have to do is apply the brush and let it do the work. One of these might be right for you. Some of these even have a timer.

Replace your toothbrush every three months, or sooner if the bristles become bent, broken or tired.


Johnson and Johnson introduced dental floss in 1898 and made it out of suture silk.

Johnson and Johnson introduced dental floss in 1898 and made it out of suture silk.

Again, choose a floss you like enough to use every day. Experiment with different types and flavors until you find one you enjoy. There are dental brushes, waxed and unwaxed floss, dental floss picks, dental tape, and comfort floss.

Take about eighteen inches of floss and wrap it around your fingers until you have a small, taut area of floss to work between each tooth. Gently slide the floss up between each tooth until it’s slightly under the gumline, wrap the floss against the top of the tooth in a C-shape and slowly work it back and forth as you slide it down. Then slide the floss up between those same two teeth and wrap the floss around the other tooth and work it back and forth as you slide it down to clean the surface of the other tooth. Then go to the next space. Work gently enough so you don’t damage your gums, but hard enough to remove the food and debris. Remember to the the backs of your back teeth! Use a clean piece of floss as you go so you aren’t working plaque and bacteria up between your teeth as you go.

Visit Your Dentist

Dr. Jennifer Fineberg

Dr. Jennifer Fineberg

Most people should visit their dentist twice a year for an exam and cleaning. Pick a dentist who lives close to you and with whom you can establish a rapport. If you have a toothache or other problems between your regular visits, call your dentist right away.

Diet and other Factors

Healthy teeth and gums and a healthy body are promoted by a healthy diet. Sugary foods and drinks, alcohol, and junk food consumption should be kept to a minimum. If you like treats, do a little rinse afterwards if you can’t brush.

Many people like to use a tongue scraper to get rid of some of the bacteria on their tongue. What ends up on that scraper will astonish you. If you use one, scrape gently once a day and clean it well after each use.

Others like to use mouthwash, many of which claim to kill germs and bacteria. Be careful with these, as many contain alcohol, which kills germs by drying out the mouth.

Don’t forget water as a natural oral health tool! Rinsing with and drinking water will promote a healthy mouth.


Some people can do a slapdash brushing effort and never have dental problems. But, most of us need to devote some time and effort into their oral care. Don’t be afraid to sit down when you brush your teeth or floss, especially at the end of the day when you’re tired. Do what you need to do to get those two minutes of brushing in twice every single day and flossing once per day. If you feel you need to brush or floss more often, trust that instinct! (Some people floss after every meal because food gets stuck between their teeth.)

The important thing is that you have oral habits that keep your teeth and gums healthy. If your habits are less than stellar, try experimenting until you find products and habits  that suit your lifestyle. Good oral hygiene can be developed or improved upon at any age, so give it a try. You’ll be so glad you did.

Keep smiling, everybody!


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