A good dental routine – a good habit, if you will – will help ensure that you get to keep a healthy and beautiful smile throughout your life. But, when you’ve just gone through a really rough day, and you’re feeling exhausted, even three or four minutes for your dental routine can seem like three or four minutes too much.
So might as well just put it off until tomorrow morning, right?
Of course, once you let it slide one night, it’s just so easy to let it slide another.
So our goal here is to help you build the best home dental care routines that you’ll stick with and use to consistently maintain a healthier smile.
How Good Are Your Current Routines?
The first step is a little bit of a self diagnosis. Once you determine your current state of oral health, it will be easier to develop a more appropriate routine. Naturally, you should always rely on a pro for a more detailed diagnosis, but there are some things you should look out for at home.
- Are your gums nice and pink, or do they get sore and bleed when you brush and floss?
- Do your teeth feel clean, or is there an unmistakable fuzziness about them?
- Do people back away from you or hold their breath when you speak?
If you’re maintaining good habits, your teeth should be clean and free of debris, you breath will not be a major problem to those around you, and your gums won’t hurt or bleed at the slightest touch.
The Definition of a Good Dental Routine
Maintaining a good oral hygiene routine is critical to protect your teeth and gums. Daily preventative care will go a long way toward avoiding problems before they become a real issue. These routines should include:
Brushing – Brush your teeth at least twice a day, for at least two minutes at each go. Be sure to brush all the surfaces of your teeth, including the inside, outside, and chewing surface.
Flossing – Floss at least once a day, making sure to get every tooth. Follow the curve of your teeth to avoid damaging your gums.
Rinsing – A fluoride mouthwash can be very helpful. Rinse after brushing and flossing for 30 to 40 seconds and it can help with your teeth while reducing bad breath.
Tongue Cleaning – A lot of bacteria builds up on your tongue, causing bad breath and harboring the critters that will harm your teeth. You can brush it with a toothbrush or use floss or tongue scraper to clean off some of the buildup.
Eating Right – Eating a balanced and varied diet can help preserve the strength of your teeth. Avoid foods that are rich in sugars and starches.
These are, of course, the basics that everyone has heard time and time again, so the one last thing we’ll recommend is to be sure and talk to us about your current dental situation. We’ll let you know if there are any special conditions that require more effort on your part.
How Do you Stick to It?
Despite our best efforts, things get in the way. You may let flossing slide one day because you’re just too tired to bother, but that only makes it easier to slide the next one, too. If you’re having troubles sticking to the routine, there are a few things you can do to build better habits.
- Set specific goals – Don’t say you’ll “get better at brushing. Instead, say you will brush your teeth this many times a day at these times and for this long.
- Create a checklist/daily log – Follow through with your goals for dental health by making a visual representation of how it’s going.
- Find motivation – This could be a previous dental bill or a picture of your ideal bright, white teeth – whatever it takes to remind you why you’re doing it.
When Does it Become a Habit?
Many people want to know when our active routines become simple habits because it’s a habit that is more likely to persist over time. It’s a habit that we can do on autopilot, without expending extra thought and willpower.
There was a time when people claimed that sticking with a routine for 21 days would do it, but it’s really more complicated than that.
The simple fact is that there’s no magic number. You simply have to repeat, repeat, and repeat the process and, eventually, it will become second nature. If you’re talking about a mild behavior change (from flossing once a day to twice a day), it probably won’t take long at all. If you’re looking at a larger change, it will take some more work.
In the end, though, it will be worth it. You will have acquired a great habit that will help you maintain the health and appearance of your teeth and gums.