Designing an oral hygiene routine for a bright, healthy smile.

The desire for an attractive smile, white teeth, and fresh breath is a goal worth pursuing. A beautiful smile is linked to success in careers and relationships and it achieves an optimal level of oral health that will improve your overall health as well.

Best of all, making your oral health a priority isn’t complicated when you focus on the fundamentals. We’re going to break down these fundamentals into three categories: at-home dental care, healthy lifestyle habits, and routine dental visits.

How you care for your teeth at home has the biggest impact on the health of your smile.

Your at-home dental care routine is the foundation of your oral health and is crucial for preventing tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral diseases.

Brush your teeth twice daily for two minutes.

Thoroughly brush your teeth using a soft-bristled brush for two minutes, morning and night. Bedtime brushing, especially, should not be skipped as plaque build-up and bacterial growth is more likely to happen at night while you’re sleeping.

To really level up your brushing, consider switching to a powered toothbrush for an even better clean.

Floss daily and whenever you have food stuck between your teeth.

Flossing at least once daily, ideally before bed, is recommended. However, you should also floss if you suspect you have some food caught between your teeth. When flossing, use actual dental floss or a flosser and resist the urge to pick at your teeth with a foreign object as this could lead to chipping.

As far as the sequence goes, flossing before brushing is typically preferred as it can dislodge particles before you brush and ensures those cloosened particles are brushed away.

Use ADA-recommended oral care products.

New oral care products and brands are constantly being released. This is great because it encourages interest in caring for our smiles, but it also can lead to purchasing products that don’t work, or worse, harm your teeth.

To be safe and protect your smile as effectively as possible, only use products that have the ADA Seal of Approval or have been recommended by your dentist.

Start with a tongue scraper and finish with a mouthwash.

Two more things to really round out your at-home oral care routine is a tongue scraper and a mouthwash. Tongue scrapers are highly effective at removing bacteria on the tongue that causes bad breath while mouthwash can help prevent plaque build-up, tooth decay, and gum disease.

When combined with flossing and brushing, the most effective sequence is flossing, tongue scraping, brushing, and then mouthwash.

Your diet has as much of an impact on your general health as it does on your oral health.

A healthy diet reduces your chances of developing tooth decay and protects your tooth enamel from erosion.

Limit sugars, starches, and simple carbs.

Sugars, starches, and simple carbohydrates are fine in small amounts, but when consumed regularly or in large amounts they contribute to tooth decay. Take a look at your diet and snacking habits to see where you might be able to make healthier substitutions.

Eat crunchy fruits and vegetables.

Not only are fruits and vegetables healthy, but the crunchy varieties are natural tooth cleaners. When you bite into a carrot, apple, or stalk of celery, the friction is helping to remove plaque on the surface of your teeth.

Be aware of sugary or acidic juices.

Juices made from 100% fruit are often touted as being “healthy” in comparison to sodas and other sugary beverages, but be aware of just how much sugar is actually in these fruit juices. Additionally, many popular fruit juices, such as orange juice, are quite acidic. This combination of acidity and sugars should be limited.

Drink plenty of water.

Drinking water is just as important for your body as your teeth. Drinking water throughout the day flushes debris from your teeth and keeps both your mouth and your body hydrated. If you’re getting used to drinking water, you can also try sugar-free flavored waters.

Routine dental visits and cleanings maintain optimum oral health and prevent plaque build-up.

There’s no substitution for biannual dental visits and the expert care of a skilled, compassionate dental team.

Your dentist can spot warning signs before symptoms start.

Tooth decay and gum disease don’t often show noticeable symptoms right away—but your dentist will be able to spot any signs of a problem brewing. The faster a dental issue is discovered and treated, the less damage you’ll experience and the quicker you’ll recover.

Professional cleanings remove plaque you can’t get rid of with a toothbrush.

Even the most flawless at-home brushing and flossing routine still doesn’t top the ultra deep clean you get with a skilled hygienist and specialized plaque-removal tools. It’s natural for a small amount of plaque to build up on your teeth, especially in the back of your mouth. Biannual cleanings take care of these tricky spots and prevent them from turning into a bigger issue.

Schedule appointments whenever you sense something is wrong.

The final thing to always keep in mind is sometimes things do go wrong with your oral health. Perhaps a toothache has crept up on you or you accidentally chipped a tooth. Maybe you were flossing and noticed a little blood on the string. When anything seems off, it’s important to call your dentist and see if you should book an appointment.

Ready to schedule your next appointment with Barr & Diachenko?

If this guide reminded you that it’s time for your next checkup or cleaning, you can book a time now by calling our office or filling out this online form. We are also accepting new patients who are searching for comprehensive dental care in downtown Chicago and Millennium Park.