Consistency in dental care is the key to optimal oral health.
Imagine that you’ve decided to learn a new skill. You sign up online, attend the class, and take amazing notes. You’re feeling excited about learning this new skill, but do you expect to be a pro after one day? Certainly not. Learning a new skill takes time, and most importantly, it takes consistency in showing up, participating, and reviewing all of the new information.
Developing a healthy smile is no different than learning a new skill.
Achieving and maintaining optimal oral health isn’t accomplished through some Herculean effort but through consistent dental care habits. You have to show up for your twice-daily hygiene sessions, actively participate in prioritizing and protecting your oral health, and review your progress with your dentist during regular checkups.
Here are six reasons why consistency is everything when it comes to oral health.
1. Plaque never stops growing, and tartar can form in a day.
Plaque is a sticky film that accumulates over the teeth and makes the ideal home for decay-causing bacteria. Bacteria living in the plaque feed on sugar and produce acid as a waste product, which erodes tooth enamel and leads to cavities. Excessive plaque means thriving bacteria and increased tooth decay and gum disease risks.
As soon as plaque is removed through brushing, it begins building back up again. Plaque can start appearing on the teeth again within minutes to a few hours after removal. When plaque isn’t removed, it eventually hardens into tartar.
Tartar is a calcified or hardened state of plaque accumulation on the teeth near the gums. It can develop within 24 to 48 hours and become so hard that it’s impossible to remove at home in just a few short days.
2. It can take three months to build a new habit.
Dental care is undoubtedly a habit that takes time to build. Some studies say new habits can form in as few as 21 days, while others showed that months of repetition were necessary for a new habit to form. In reality, we’re all different; some people pick up habits quicker than others.
Give yourself a 12-week challenge to make dental care a twice-daily habit. Mark it on your calendar and use your phone to set up reminders morning and night to practice your dental care routine. Use a two-minute timer when you brush, even if you’re usually accurate at estimating time. Follow through, and you’ll see a new habit forming before you know it.
3. Brushing and flossing have distinctly different purposes.
Brushing and flossing are often lumped together, but each has distinct purposes, which means that neither is an alternative to the other.
Brushing removes plaque and food debris from the flat surfaces of your teeth. It cleans the enamel and stimulates the gums. Brushing the tongue also helps remove bacteria that cause bad breath.
Flossing removes plaque, soft tartar, and food debris from between teeth and just under the gumline. Skipping flossing can lead to gingivitis and gum disease, even if you brush twice daily. There’s simply no alternative for this crucial oral hygiene step.
4. Gum disease is dangerous, and it flies under the radar.
Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults, and it can lead to irreversible damage to the teeth, gums, and even the jawbone. Unfortunately, gum disease symptoms aren’t easy to notice, especially during the gingivitis or mild gum disease stages. By the time pain or obviously bleeding gums happens, permanent harm has likely happened already.
A combination of consistent brushing and flossing, coupled with six-month checkups at your dentist, is the only way to prevent gum disease.
5. Improper brushing can harm tooth enamel.
Consistency is only one factor in effective brushing; practicing a proper tooth brushing technique is equally important for protecting tooth enamel. Break your mouth down into quadrants and brush each section for 30 seconds, keeping your brush at a 45-degree angle and using gentle force in short strokes.
Brushing too hard can weaken tooth enamel and even lead to receding gums. Brushing too often or immediately after eating and drinking can also harm tooth enamel. Always wait 30 minutes to an hour after eating or drinking anything, except water, before you brush your teeth.
6. There is no substitute for professional dental care.
Consistent dental care extends beyond your daily at-home habits. You also need to receive professional dental care every six months consistently. A dentist is the only person who can spot the earliest warning signs of decay and gum disease. Similarly, a hygienist is the only person who can completely remove plaque and tartar from your teeth and gumline.
Don’t skip your routine checkups and cleanings, even if your teeth feel great and your at-home dental care is flawless.
Valley Dental Clinic can help you establish an effective and enjoyable dental care routine.
Learning daily dental care habits isn’t something everyone experiences in childhood or carries with them into adulthood. It is important to remind yourself that if you struggle with brushing or flossing, there is nothing to be embarrassed about, nor any reason to feel frustrated with yourself.
An important part of what we do at Valley Dental Clinic is help people of all ages learn how to care for their smiles at home, including refreshers on brushing and flossing techniques, product recommendations, and tips on developing lasting oral care habits. Our goal is to help every patient achieve the healthiest smile possible while lessening the risks of oral disease.
If you have questions or need to schedule an appointment, contact our family-friendly Wasilla dental practice today.