The Five Most Important Tools to Have in Your Medicine Cabinet to Ensure a Healthy Smile

It’s no secret that taking good care of your teeth is essential to keeping them healthy and maintaining an attractive smile. However, poor oral hygiene and inconsistent dental care can result in many more severe health problems beyond the deterioration of your teeth. 


Since digestion begins with chewing your food and thereby reducing it to smaller bits and pieces, if your teeth become decayed or weakened from improper maintenance, chewing becomes more difficult, placing a far more significant burden on your stomach to break down the food you eat. With your stomach having double the digestive workload, it will struggle and eventually fail to adequately convert the food you eat into the nutrients and other compounds essential to getting the vitamins, minerals, and other resources your body needs. 


The result is a cascading effect and, if not rectified, could lead to more serious health problems like an infection that can spread to the jaw, head, and neck, and even turn into sepsis, which can be life-threatening.


While it is crucial to keep your teeth healthy and see your dentist on a regular basis, there is a lot you can do at home to maintain good oral hygiene. Here are the top five most important tools to have in your medicine cabinet to safeguard your smile’s health.


  1. Your Toothbrush


While it might seem obvious, brushing your teeth is essential and should be done first thing when you awake, as a multitude of cavity- and plaque-producing bacteria have been growing in your mouth since your saliva hasn’t been active while you’ve been sleeping.


How long should you brush? The standard recommendation is to brush for two minutes twice a day, ideally when you awake and again before bed, to minimize bacteria growth while you sleep. However, it would be best if you brushed your teeth after every meal, too, and especially after drinking red wine, since it stains teeth more than nearly any other beverage. 


Of course, using the right toothbrush is also critical to achieving the most satisfactory results. It would be best to use a toothbrush with scientifically-designed contours that aren’t too big for your mouth, which will enable you to brush most effectively, allowing you to get into all of the tight areas inside your mouth. Electric toothbrushes are great as well; just make sure to use a slow setting so you won’t damage your tooth enamel. Also, selecting a toothbrush with softer bristles will let you brush your gums comfortably, which significantly helps to prevent gum disease. 


It is important as well to consider how you brush your teeth. Place your toothbrush at approximately a 45° angle in relation to your gums, then gently move your toothbrush in short strokes back and forth, up and down, and in small circles, making sure to brush the outer, inner, and chewing surfaces of all your teeth. 


  1. Your Toothpaste


There are many different kinds of toothpaste on the market, and some are better than others. Many include mint flavoring added as a breath freshener; however, be sure to avoid any that contain sugar, artificial colors, and other unnecessary ingredients. 


Generally, it’s best to look for a toothpaste with fluoride, as it can help remineralize your tooth enamel and prevent cavities. Baking soda-based toothpaste is also good because of its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, and there are a wide variety of specialized toothpaste options for those with sensitive teeth, too. If you drink coffee, tea, or red wine, you might consider a toothpaste with added teeth whitening features, such as baking soda and hydrogen peroxide.


  1. Your Floss 


Brushing your teeth with the right toothpaste is great for removing stains, bacteria, plaque, and other unwanted elements from the surface of your teeth, but brushing the front, back, and crown of your teeth does little to reach the other 40% of your total tooth surfaces — the spaces in between your teeth. 


Food particles, plaque, and bacteria left to rot in your interdental spaces can eventually cause tooth decay. The way to clean that bothersome 40% is by using dental floss to clean in between your teeth at least once per day, preferably before bedtime, but ideally also in the morning after breakfast. 


The best floss to use is waxed or Teflon, which allows you to get into all of those tight spaces and lowers the risk of your floss shredding and tearing while you’re using it. 

If you have trouble using traditional string floss, you can use a dental harp or flossette to clean between tooth surfaces quickly and easily. 


  1. Your Tongue Cleaner


Since your tongue tends to host an abundance of oral bacteria, keeping it clean won’t just improve your overall oral health, but help your breath stay nice and fresh as well. One way to disinfect your tongue is to brush it with your toothbrush once you’ve finished brushing your teeth. Another way is by using a tongue scraper, which is a dental tool specifically designed to help you clear away the bacteria that collects on your tongue. 


  1. Your Mouthwash


The foregoing are fantastic ways to keep your teeth, tongue, and breath fresh, clean, and healthy, but there is one more thing to consider: mouthwash. While it’s not an acceptable substitute for daily brushing and flossing, the use of a minty mouthwash is an excellent final step to add to your daily oral self-care. 


The two primary types of mouthwash are over-the-counter and prescription. Each significantly helps to reduce plaque, gingivitis, tooth decay, and bad breath. The prescription version is generally more aggressive, while the over-the-counter brands, flavors, and types include everything from being alcohol-free, less-stinging, and extra-minty. Some even offer teeth whitening and longer-lasting freshness. The choice is yours to make. 


Unless directed by a dentist, children younger than 6 years old shouldn’t use over-the-counter mouthwash, as they may be tempted to swallow it. 


Using a mouthwash:

  • kills bacteria in your mouth, 
  • rinses away any little leftover bits of food that may remain on your teeth or gums, and,
  • leaves your mouth and breath feeling and smelling fresh.


With these five items in your medicine cabinet, you are well on the way to attaining and maintaining a healthy smile! To learn more about how to get the most out of your home-care oral hygiene, and to discuss any issue with your oral health, contact Oral Surgery DC for a consultation today (

Want a Bright and Healthy Smile? Follow These Top Tips

Want a Bright and Healthy Smile? Follow These Top Tips

A bright and healthy smile starts at home. Seeing your dentist every six months for a routine cleaning and checkup is a big step in the right direction when it comes to your oral hygiene, but the path to your best smile begins with a consistent, everyday dental care routine. Here are some tips to help you achieve your most beautiful smile. 

  1. Choose Good-for-Your-Smile Foods 

It’s no secret that what you eat impacts your physical health, and your smile is no exception. A balanced diet will ensure you get all the vitamins and minerals you need to grow and maintain healthy teeth, but what you eat impacts your smile in other ways too.


For instance, crunchy fruits and veggies cause you to produce more saliva, which naturally washes your mouth in between brushing and flossing. Meanwhile, foods that are high in sugar should only be enjoyed on occasion because sugar can feed the bad bacteria in your mouth and contribute to tooth decay. 


While we’re on the topic, it’s well known that red wine, coffee, and soda will stain your teeth. In fact, any highly-acidic food or drink is bad for your smile as it can wear down enamel and discolor it over time. Instead, drink lots of water to gently rinse your mouth throughout the day and promote saliva production.

  1. Kick-Start Your Oral Hygiene With the Right Toothpaste and Brush

There are countless toothpaste types on the market, but did you know that whitening toothpaste actually contains abrasives that can wear down enamel over time? Enamel is the protective outer layer on your teeth — and when it gets thin, the naturally yellow center of your tooth is able to show through.


If you want the healthiest smile possible, choose a toothpaste with fluoride, which will help strengthen enamel over time. Fluoride can also help reverse early-stage tooth decay, which means fewer fillings. To max out your oral hygiene, pair that toothpaste with a soft bristle toothbrush to avoid unnecessary abrasion, and make sure you brush at least twice a day.

  1. Keep Your Tongue Clean

You may have heard that your tongue is the primary source of bad breath-causing bacteria, and that’s not a myth. A host of bacteria live on your tongue, both good and bad, and it’s important that you scrub your tongue every time you brush. Forgetting to clean your tongue is like wiping clean dishes with a dirty towel!


Choose a toothbrush with a tongue scrubber on the reverse side, or pick up a tongue scraper that’s designed to make quick work of cleaning your tongue. You don’t necessarily need to use toothpaste on your tongue — you just need some gentle abrasion to clean off the bacteria. Once you’re done, continue your oral hygiene routine with a fluoride mouthwash to rinse your tongue and pearly whites. 

  1. Never Skip Flossing Again

After you brush, always use floss. Flossing helps remove excess plaque and clean in between your teeth where your brush can’t reach. If that plaque isn’t removed, it will build up over time and put you at an increased risk of gum disease and other problems.


The type of floss you use doesn’t matter, as long as you’re using it correctly. String floss is affordable and easy to take with you anywhere, but disposable pre-strung floss comes on a little handle for easy use. Avoid nicking your gums with the floss, and use a couple of new pieces as you move around your mouth. 


If you floss every day, you’ll notice the color of your gums improving and any tenderness you’ve been experiencing may start to disappear. However, when you first start flossing, you might experience some discomfort and bleeding. Your dentist can show you how to floss properly and assess your gum health to let you know whether any discomfort or bleeding might be an early warning sign of issues like gum disease.

  1. Ask an Oral Surgeon About Gum Disease

Periodontitis, often called gum disease, is an infection in the gums that will degrade your jawbone over time and lead to tooth loss. Fortunately, gum disease is preventable with proper oral hygiene, which is good news since it’s a risk factor for heart and lung diseases and puts a serious damper on your healthy smile.


Bleeding when you floss could be an early sign of gum disease, and it’s one of the most obvious. Oftentimes, other symptoms go unnoticed — things like puffy, discolored, or tender gums and bad breath. Gum disease is incredibly common, especially if you don’t brush and floss regularly. That’s why you should talk to your oral surgeon about the health of your gums and discuss what they can do if you have any stage of gum disease. 


Keep an eye out for our upcoming blog for more information on why gum disease is so dangerous and how your oral surgeon can help you prevent and recover from gum disease and the decay or tooth loss that can result from it. In the meantime, contact Oral Surgery DC for more information on getting and maintaining a healthy smile.