How To Practice Good Oral Hygiene

Oral hygiene is important to preventing infection, gum disease, and tooth loss, yet many people don't follow good oral hygiene practices. The time it takes is minimal, yet its impact can affect the rest of your life.


You should brush your teeth at least twice each day. Each brushing should last a minimum of two minutes. Brushing should include the front, back, and bite edges of your teeth.

Your toothbrush should be comfortable in shape and size to conform with your mouth. Electric or battery operated toothbrushes are preferable, because they can clean teeth more effectively. Your toothbrush or electric brush head should be replaced every three months, or even sooner if they show signs of worn bristles. Never cover the bristles of your toothbrush when not in use, because moisture will cause bacteria to grow. Store your toothbrush at least six feet away from your toilet to avoid contamination when the toilet is flushed.

Adults and older children should use a fluoride toothpaste that helps to prevent tooth decay, but be careful not to swallow and to rinse your mouth thoroughly. Younger children should never use a fluoride toothpaste because if it is ingested in sufficient quantities, it could be harmful or even fatal. Be especially careful not to purchase fluoride toothpaste with cartoon characters or flavors that appeal to younger children. A single tube of fluoride toothpaste may contain enough fluoride to kill a small child if consumed.


Flossing is often the most neglected component of oral hygiene. Many individuals have difficulties with using dental floss, or use it incorrectly. One third of the surface of your teeth are inaccessible to your toothbrush and must be reached by flossing.

Dental floss is available in many varieties. Waxed floss allows the floss to slide more easily between your teeth. Mint or cinnamon flavored flosses may be preferred if an individual balks at the thought of a non-edible object in their mouth.

Flossing properly requires using between eighteen and twenty four inches of floss. Each end should be wrapped around your middle finger until they almost meet. The length of floss remaining is then slid between two teeth down to the gum line, and then curved around one of the teeth. As you progress,unravel the floss and use clean sections between each pair of teeth. Don't use the same section of floss, or you may spread bacteria through your mouth.

If you have problems fitting your fingers into your mouth, you can purchase a floss pick, which resembles an archery bow that you can attach the floss to for easier access.

After brushing and flossing, use an antiseptic mouthwash for at least thirty seconds, swirling it throughout your mouth.

Of course, you should visit your dentist twice each year for a professional cleaning and a checkup. Your dentist can point out problem areas that you may be neglecting or cleaning improperly.