Yes, we could always do better, but do we know what it is, that get’s us to better? Is it more brushing? Is it better toothpaste? Is it rinsing with some special rinse that will remove or reach in and clean any areas we might have missed? Or “I know”, it’s got to be the dreaded F-word. Floss!
Daily hygiene rituals: usually performed on autopilot. We’ve been performing these activities from as far back as we can remember. They’re boring, uneventful tasks that we execute everyday. It's a great time to daydream, ponder our thoughts and yet still be productive. That’s why, after all, some of our best ideas come to us in the shower.
Brushing our teeth, once again a perfect time to have a moment to reflect on wherever our minds want to go.
Getting clean, healthy and white.
...it’s all good.
But is it?
Let's not be an alarmist, but it needs to be addressed. After all, what is it that keeps all those lovely teeth in your mouth?
Gums (and bone- but we’ll just keep it to what we have to work with.)
Gums can be quite sneaky, they’re hard to evaluate. For the most part they seem pretty normal. They don’t hurt, they look fine and rarely bleed. Unless maybe I jammed the floss in too deep.
Now you probably heard of gum disease. And like you, I thought it was something people get when they get old, or if they haven’t been taking care of their teeth.
Guess what? Most of us have some….gum disease that is. Like 75% of the population. It’s actually quite common. It usually quietly hiding under the gum line and it starts off as an inflammation to the lining of gums.
Our gums (and teeth) are constantly being subjected to bacteria. At first it starts off as an irritation from the bacteria constantly forming in our mouth, and because our gums are quite vulnerable, it doesn't take long for it to inflame the gums. Usually referred to as gingivitis. It’s very common. The problem is it progresses into advanced stages without us even knowing it.
So what can we do?
1. Don’t Assume You’ll Know
I don’t think 75%(or possibly more) of the population are walking around fully aware of what stage of gum disease they have? Let’s just assume that at one time or another our gums will become weakened from the bacteria. And, it’s likely you will not have any obvious symptoms. The good news is, gums respond very quickly. With the right care and attention your gums can be back to strong and healthy in as little as a couple days.
2. Don’t Brush Your Teeth (too much)!
So let’s break this down. I started rethinking this whole brush your teeth 2X a day for 2 minutes.
Now while it sounds good on the surface, I think there might be a better way to go. Instead of just saying “brush your teeth,” I think it makes more sense to focus on “brushing your gum line,” this will get your teeth clean and target the area where most of the plaque can cause problems. Next time you brush take notice that your feeling the brush at the point where your tooth and gum meet. You also need to keep in mind that this should be done slowly, and not to use a lot of pressure. And...Always use a soft bristle toothbrush. Harder doesn't mean cleaner, and either does faster. So slow it down, and let off the pressure. It’s going to take some conscious effort, and believe me, it’s not as easy as it sounds to change I’m still trying to stay mindful with my brushing, it’s hard to change the way you been doing something your whole life. Especially since we’re usually on autopilot when we’re brushing.
Next time you’re at the dentist ask, “So how do my gums look?” We tend to focus most of our attention on the teeth. Do I have any cavities? Does everything look OK? We’re usually a bit passive when it comes to our gums. They tend to remain uneventful, but let me just say, everybody (or mouth) is different. Think of it like the foundation for your teeth. You can’t always see if there’s problems lurking. When you get your teeth cleaned they have the perfect view to assess the “foundation”.
4. Don’t Rely on Rinses, Toothpastes, Secret Herbs, or Serums to be the Magic Bullet.
While we all love to have minty fresh breath after we brush or rinse, and it’s enticing to think they offer a significant value, but nothing replaces the physical removal of plaque. It doesn’t take a special toothpaste to make a difference, it takes a special technique. But what about the areas I can’t reach? Think of taking a shower and just letting the water and soap run over you. It’s the physical scrubbing that removes the grunge, the water and soap are only there to make the process easier. If you didn’t reach it, it’s probably not clean.
5. Look at Your Routine As More of A Fitness Routine, Not Just A Hygiene Ritual.
When we start focusing on doing our oral hygiene routine with health as the focus, instead of just feeling clean, it can motivate us to change our habits. Think of as an exercise for your mouth. The key is to strengthen your gums, so the bacteria doesn't cause inflammation. Yes, you can have strong gums, but remember it takes a gentle, thorough workout. It’s a continuous process of managing the bacteria. Easy come, and easy go. Like exercise it’s all about technique and consistency.
So remember, don’t focus just on the teeth, focus on the gum line - teeth get clean and the gums stay strong and healthy.
This is the gateway into our whole body.
I put together "MY 5 FAVORITE PICKS" for better oral hygiene.