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In the old days, I’m talking the Colonial Era, our Founding Fathers were too busy creating an independent nation to brush their teeth. Dental care simply wasn’t a thing. Floss wasn’t even invented until the end of the 19th Century and didn’t actually hit the mainstream until the early 20th Century. Even the rich and famous first class passengers on the Titanic, who were well groomed and impeccably dressed on those lifeboats, still had plaque-filled teeth. 

We’re lucky that we live in an age where dental artistry is even a thing and where electric toothbrushes, floss and teeth whitening gels are readily available at your local pharmacy. There really is no excuse for unbrushed teeth other than laziness. But even now, during this privileged dental renaissance, more and more people are skipping out on flossing and brushing. Maybe we should blame our screens and the instant gratification of the digital age for making us less patient toward basic tasks like flossing. 

But I’m not here to preach about society. I’m here to preach about hygiene because having healthy teeth and gums can actually increase your lifespan. Bad gums can cause a ripple effect that leads to chronic illness like Alzheimer’s.

Having ideal teeth boils down to 6 simple steps:

  1. Floss every day
  2. Brush every day, but not too hard
  3. Tongue scraping
  4. A low-inflammation, alkaline diet
  5. Getting regular teeth cleanings
  6. Treating teeth grinding, aka bruxism

Let’s break these down, shall we? We’ll start with what’s perhaps the most important one that can determine your life expectancy.

Floss (Not The Dance)

GenZers might only recognize the term from the viral meme dance that’s currently a fad; but listen up kids, flossing is much older than you. The sad part is that many people do indeed floss, only to learn they’ve been flossing wrong the whole time and haven’t been making any progress with their hygiene. The right flossing techniques involve a calculated approach of sawing the floss in between each tooth and then forming it into a C-shape that wraps around the tooth, where it will collect all the plaque and grime that’s been hiding in there all day since breakfast. Bring the floss up and down until the gross stuff is gone.

Yes, it may be tedious and yes it may catapult pieces of baby kale into the mirror, but this is a matter of life or death, people. In fact, a tell-tale sign of somebody having healthy flossed teeth is that of their mirror. If it’s filled with particles of arugula, then you’ve been flossing. But please, wipe down those mirrors. We are not animals. 

Brush Efficient, Not Hard

Ease up on those gums. Listen, I get it. I don’t particularly like brushing my teeth. I always view it as this routine I must get through to go to sleep. All I think about is my cozy California King mattress, my three pillows and the soothing sounds of a British narrator on a nature documentary. So I tend to brush impatiently and aggressively with my subconscious screaming out “Hurry up and get clean already!” I even have an electric toothbrush which makes my aggressive brushing even rougher on my sensitive gums. Don’t be like me.

Be sure to aim your brushing toward the gum line where plaque grows in small, circular motions, not back and forth. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and keep your hand at ease.  Aggressive brushing can lead to receding gums, bone loss, worn down enamel and tooth sensitivity to cold and hot foods. If you brush hard like me, the dentist will call you out on it because the dentist sees all.

Tongue Scraping

Most people don’t even consider their tongues when caring for their teeth, but this slimy worm is no stranger to dead cells, bacteria and debris. Think about it, everything that you put in your mouth has contact with your tongue. It’s the main source of bad breath. 

To properly clean your tongue, use a high-grade tongue scraper right after you brush your teeth. Set it at the back of your tongue, try not to gag and then gently start scraping from the back to the front. Once you’re done scraping, use a washcloth to shed away all of the leftover debris. It may not sound like the most pleasant experience, but it will come a long way in achieving optimum health. 

A Dental Diet

There are other ways to care for your teeth that don’t involve touching them. If you’re experienced in dieting, you may want to practice the Alkaline Diet, which reduces the amount of acidic foods in your diet. When acidic foods like tomato sauce burn through our gums or tongue, they leave behind a sort of “ash” called metabolic waste. This waste makes you more prone to disease and illness. Check out the Alkaline Diet to see if it’s right for you. 

Regular Teeth Cleanings

At Mill Dam Dental, we offer regular deep teeth cleanings that will go beyond your flossing and brushing and help steer you away from gum disease. At these cleanings, we’ll scrape away all of the tartar and plaque that’s taken shelter in between your teeth, then massage your individual teeth with our cleaning agents. We’ll top it all off with a nice floss and now would be a good time to take notes and witness how to properly floss your teeth from a pro. You’ll notice their skilled moves and they’ll even let you watch by giving you a mirror to hold up to your teeth. Getting your teeth cleaned at least every six months will help ensure you are in good shape.

Stop Grinding

If you’re like me, who goes to sleep after consuming nature documentaries, you might slip into anxious dreamland, thinking about the poor wildebeests living in fear of a lion attack. This may lead to anxious teeth grinding, or “bruxism.” Bruxism also causes you to grind your teeth when you’re awake and you may not even notice it because you’re too anxiously scrolling through your instagram feed. Want to learn How To Prevent Your Teeth From Grinding? Your dentist may give you a night guard to wear while you sleep. Other tips include taking a warm bath, relaxing, easing stress and not watching lions slaughter wildebeests before bed. 

So don’t be like our Founding Fathers and first class Titanic passengers who simply didn’t know any better. Be a champion of your own teeth and utilize all of these tips to have the best teeth you can possibly have. We are in control of our own smiles and breaths. If you can get over the laziness and truly view dental care as a necessary part of living then you’ll be a master of your mouth.