Keeping your teeth strong, your gums healthy, and your smile bright is not just a day job; your mouth needs protection at night too. Nighttime oral care is important because while we’re sleeping, we’re not swallowing, so the bacteria in our mouths increase throughout the night. By incorporating a nighttime oral care routine, the goal is to limit the amount of bacteria there is to feed off of.
There are three basic steps to nighttime oral care: brushing, flossing, and rinsing with mouthwash.
Steps for Basic Nighttime Oral Care:
Brushing your teeth helps protect them from plaque buildup and tooth decay. Using a soft-bristled brush and fluoride toothpaste, start brushing your teeth at a 45-degree angle to the gums. It is suggested to brush in circular, short motions – starting with your outter teeth, then working your way through the inner tooth surfaces and the chewing surfaces. Don’t forget to also clean the backs of your front teeth with gentle up-and-down strokes.
Normally, you want to brush your teeth and follow this routine prior to going to bed.
Cleaning between your teeth with floss allows you to reach plaque that you can’t remove with a toothbrush. Flossing at least once a day will also help prevent gum diseases. To floss properly, the ADA recommends using an 18-inch-long strand, winding most of it around your middle fingers (to manage the floss as it gets dirty), and then holding the remaining floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers. Next, use a gentle rubbing motion to guide the floss between your teeth. As you move toward the gum line, curve the floss into a C shape against each tooth, rubbing back and forth against the tooth as you go. When you get to the root of the tooth, slide the floss into the space between the gum and the tooth and keep rubbing gently. Then slowly move the floss away from the gum with an up-and-down motion, and repeat for the rest of your teeth, including the backsides of your last teeth on the top and bottom.
Rinsing With Mouthwash
Rinsing with a therapeutic mouthwash will help keep your breath fresh, your teeth plaque- and cavity-free, and your gums safe from gingivitis. Most mouthwashes are sold over the counter, though some require prescriptions. Follow the instructions on the packaging for best results.
Don’t forget to schedule a checkup with your dentist for your best oral care routine!