You may have grown up hearing about the importance of brushing and flossing your teeth. You do both of those on a daily basis, yet when you visit your dentist, he or she finds a cavity or the start of gum disease.

If this happens regularly, it may be an indication that your oral health hygiene practices are not as they should be.

What is the right way to go about maintaining your teeth and gums?

Proper Dental Hygiene

Brushing is the most basic element of keeping your teeth and gums healthy and free of disease and decay. Many patients, both children and adults, however, brush the wrong way.

Brushing

It is recommended that the toothbrush used is of soft to medium firmness. The brushes with the hard, or very firm bristles can scrape off and damage one's tooth enamel. They can also scratch and cause injury and discomfort to the soft, sensitive gum tissue. To maintain their cleaning effectiveness, toothbrushes should be thrown out and replaced every three months.

Correct teeth brushing involves a gentle circular motion over the teeth and gums. Too many patients are overzealous in their brush too violently and applying too much force on the teeth and gums.

With the busyness of life, few patients brush the required two minutes. There are some fun ideas and tips for both kids and adults to get the full two minutes of brushing in, such as listening to a favorite song or a friendly, family competition.

Flossing is another important part of proper dental hygiene. Many patients are either nervous about flossing, are too impatient to properly floss or think that flossing is unnecessary with daily, thorough teeth brushing.

Flossing is a must in order to reduce the risk of cavities and gum disease. Flossing gets to plaque, decay, and lodged food particles in between teeth and along the gum line, two places where a toothbrush can not reach.

Proper flossing can be tedious and takes time. Both sides of each tooth need to be flossed. Gently slide the floss along one side of the tooth, going just below the gum line. If you've never flossed or you typically do not go down far enough, your gums may be sensitive and bleed a little. Some boring the first few days of flossing is normal. If your gums bleed excessively or they bleed long after you've established a flossing routine, you should schedule an appointment with your dentist as you may have gum disease that requires professional treatment.

Flossing needs to be done at least once a day, preferably twice a day. Nightly flossing before going to bed will greatly reduce the formation of cavity causing plaque and tartar.

Regular dental office visits is the third important component of healthy oral hygiene. Patients are encouraged to schedule routine dental cleansings and check-ups every six months. As important as it is to have a professional look at and examine your teeth, some patients go for sometimes years between dental office visits. The longer a patient goes between dental check-ups, the higher the risk one has for getting gum disease and tooth decay. The dentist has the tools and equipment to examine and thoroughly clean your teeth. He or she can clean your teeth better than your flossing and brushing can. Tartar build-up, for example, can only be removed with dental equipment.

A dentist is a certified professional who has extensive training and knowledge in dental care. He or she can spot possible dental concerns that patients would easily overlook.

Proactive treatment is the best and most effective way to maintain a healthy mouth.

Proper, daily teeth brushing and flossing and regular, six month professional cleansings and examinations are all important for a clean, healthy mouth.

If it has been more than six months since your last dental office visit, schedule an appointment with your dentist today. At your appointment, your dentist will be able to give you suggestions on how to better your oral hygiene routine .