Human beings are creatures of habit who need consistent routines to help them stay healthy. When it comes to protecting your oral health, a good nighttime routine can be the difference between tooth decay and a healthy smile. Here are some tips for establishing a regular nighttime routine that will keep your teeth healthy and white.
Brush your teeth last
It’s important to brush your teeth before you go to sleep to protect against tooth decay, plaque buildup and gum disease. When you brush before bedtime, you ensure that oral bacteria will not have a steady food source available to them during the seven to nine-hour period when you will be asleep. With that said, if you are especially susceptible to tooth decay, you may want to brush immediately after dinner and then again before bedtime.
Model good dental habits for your kids
If you have kids, it’s important to establish their nighttime brushing routine as early as possible. One good way to do this is to brush your teeth alongside them so they can see how it’s done. Not only will this ensure accountability, it will provide the child with a role model for healthy behavior.
Floss your teeth
Your nighttime routine should include interdental cleaning to remove plaque and food debris from awkward areas between teeth. The last thing you want to do is go to bed with food stuck between your teeth. This will provide bacteria with plenty of fuel to feed and proliferate. As they feed, the bacteria will excrete acids that can break down tooth enamel while you sleep. By taking a few moments to floss, you can eliminate much of this fuel.
It’s important to maintain your nighttime routine at all times. Once you break a healthy habit, it can be hard to get back into the routine. Avoid this by prioritizing your nighttime oral health habits even when you’re traveling or on vacation. According to the American Dental Association, it’s especially important to make sure your kids continue brushing regularly when they get out of school for summer vacation.
Make sure you have the right tools
You can enhance your ability to fight tooth decay by equipping yourself with effective tools. The right cleaning instruments can also increase your enthusiasm about cleaning your teeth before bed. Make sure you have an ADA-approved toothbrush that’s both comfortable and efficient.
According to the ADA, you should also replace your toothbrush at least every three or four months, or even sooner if the bristles have begun to fray. In addition to choosing a good toothbrush, you should select a floss that fits easily between teeth without hurting your gums. Some people also prefer to use electric flossers, such as the AirFloss or the Waterpik, to clean between their teeth. Whatever the case, when you equip yourself with the right tools, you will be more willing to maintain healthy brushing habits at night.
In addition to establishing and maintaining a regular night time brushing routine, it’s important to schedule regular dental checkups to catch minor issues before they evolve into costly, painful problems.