Taking care of your oral health is a great way to fill your time and boost your immune system.

As we all work to minimize the spread of COVID-19 by practicing social distancing and staying at home, many of us are finding ourselves with a lot of time on our hands. One of the best uses of this extra time is practicing self-care. This can mean anything from reading and meditating to exercising and improving your oral hygiene routine. Now, is the perfect opportunity to spend time cultivating habits around things, like brushing for two minutes at a time and flossing daily, that we usually put off when our schedule becomes hectic. Here 7 things you can do to maintain optimal oral health at home and make the most of your time.

1. Floss daily.

You have probably been told your entire life that it is important to floss your teeth regularly, but perhaps you have never been made aware of why this daily habit is so important. One of the biggest oral health problems that affect people of all ages is periodontitis, which is essentially an advanced stage of gum disease that can damage the tooth, surrounding soft tissue and even the jaw bone.

Periodontitis occurs when bacteria is allowed to collect and form plaque and trigger inflammation. One of the earliest signs that you could be developing periodontitis is bleeding when you brush your teeth. Other symptoms include: bad breath, receding gums, pain, and shifting of the teeth.

The best way to prevent gum disease and periodontitis is to practice good oral hygiene. Flossing is the best way to remove bacteria from tight and hard-to-reach spaces between your teeth. This will prevent bacteria from multiplying and turning into a more serious problem. For those who are already experiencing the effects of periodontitis, flossing is still an effective tool in fighting the disease and restoring oral health.

2. Brush at least twice a day and for two minutes at a time.

A total of four minutes a day is all it takes to help maintain a healthy smile, yet many of us are guilty of rushing through this part of our daily routine. If you find yourself getting impatient or distracted while you are brushing, set a timer or play your favorite song. This will help you make sure you get in your full two minutes. Once you actually brush for two minutes, you might be surprised to realize how short you were cutting your brushing when you weren’t keeping track of time.

3. Use proper brushing techniques.

While brushing your teeth might seem like second nature, there is a good chance that you aren’t doing it quite right. If you tend to use a sawing motion when brushing, it is time to switch to making small circular motions. This allows for better, more thorough coverage and helps avoid being too tough on sensitive gum tissues.

Also, remember that harder isn’t better. Brushing too hard can lead to receding gums and damage the enamel that protects your teeth. Use a soft bristle brush and apply gentle pressure.

Finally, take the time to cover every section of your mouth and the top, front and back of every tooth. As you brush, you can split your mouth into quadrants and focus on one section at a time. Establishing a brushing pattern that helps you systematically move through your mouth will help you be more thorough.

4. Use products with fluoride.

Consumers are becoming more conscious about the potentially harmful ingredients that can be present in certain foods and products. This movement has led to a misconception that fluoride is actually 0bad for people. It is important to know that fluoride is not a man-made chemical, but a naturally occurring substance that can be found in the soil. Fluoride plays an important role in preventing cavities. Brushing and flossing regularly will protect your teeth better if you’re also using fluoride.

5. Avoid sugary foods.

In stressful times, we tend to turn to comfort foods, which usually means foods that are full of sugar and starches. While these foods might taste great, they play a significant role in the development of cavities. Sugar and starches tend to stay in the mouth for longer and provide an excellent food source for bacteria, which is the main source of tooth decay.

Instead of turning to sweets and other unhealthy snacks, why not use this time to try out new recipes that contain fiber-rich fruits and vegetables? Eating healthy will also help reduce your stress and help you feel better than indulging in comfort foods.

6. Add a mouthwash to your routine.

Have an extra 30 seconds to spare every day? Rinsing your mouth with a mouthwash is another easy and effective way to control the bacteria that naturally occurs in your mouth. Not only does mouthwash contain fluoride, but it also has antibacterial ingredients that will help you maintain a clean and healthy mouth.

7. Invest in an electric toothbrush.

Electric toothbrushes are more affordable and effective than ever before. They come with a vibrating head that helps loosen plaque and automatic reminders that will let you know when it is time to switch to the next section of your mouth. After two minutes, the toothbrush will shut down to signal that you are all done. You can take all the thinking out of brushing your teeth and enjoy a cleaning feeling mouth. Be sure to contact your dentist before you purchase a new electric toothbrush because they may be able to offer you a coupon or rebate deal.

Whether you want to maintain a healthy mouth or combat the effects of gum disease and periodontitis, all of these oral hygiene habits can be practiced at home without taking up much of your time. For those following recommendations and implementing social distancing, now is the perfect time to make these tips a part of your daily routine so that they become a habit.

If you have more questions about how to protect your oral health at home, contact Wohlers Family Dentistry. We are happy to provide any help we can as our community comes together to get through these trying times.