Good oral hygiene is essential for keeping your gums and your teeth healthy. Brushing twice a day, flossing at least once a day and dental office checkups twice a year are recommended for maintaining optimal oral health. But even if you follow these guidelines faithfully, problems can arise from time to time. There are some things you can do between meals or when you don’t have time to brush that can help to keep your teeth clean, your breath fresh and your gums healthy.
Chewing sugarless gum is not only safe for your teeth, it can actually be beneficial. After you eat, food particles left between your teeth produce acid that can damage your teeth, and sugars in the food particles feed bacteria. Saliva helps to wash away these particles and acids, and chewing gum helps because it stimulates saliva production. Even if you are able to brush your teeth immediately after eating, it is not a good idea to do this because your tooth enamel needs time to recalcify or reharden. Chewing a minty sugar-free gum after eating can freshen your breath and help your mouth to remove harmful acids immediately.
Floss picks are a convenient way to floss your teeth and remove food particles from between your teeth when you are on the go. Regular dental floss is recommended for daily flossing, but floss picks allow you to floss immediately after eating or when you are not at home.
Drinking a glass of water with a meal also helps to wash away food particles, sugars and acids. If you drink wine, coffee or tea with a meal, a final glass of water can help to eliminate some of the stain-causing substances in those beverages.
Breath mints and breath sprays are generally not as good as sugar-free gum for your teeth, but if you don’t like to chew gum, disposable waterless toothbrushes are a newer invention that can freshen your breath and clean your teeth when you’re in a hurry.
Teeth wipes are another convenient method of cleaning your teeth that can fit in your pocket or purse, and that you can take anywhere. You can even purchase wipes that are specifically made to remove wine and other stains. These wipes contain hydrogen peroxide and flavoring.
One thing you may want to avoid is the use of toothpicks. While they generally don’t harm the teeth, they can harm the gums. If you get food stuck between your teeth frequently or have a particular problem with food getting stuck between certain teeth, you should have a checkup to determine the cause.