You can greatly improve your oral hygiene by committing to a daily brushing and flossing routine, but there are other factors to consider. For instance, how you clean and store your dental cleaning aids can play a role in your overall oral health. Some people may accidentally introduce bacteria to their mouth with their habits, which could increase the risk of cavities as well as oral sores, such as thrush, canker sores, etc.
Here are some tips to keep in mind to improve your oral hygiene.
Wash Your Hands Before You Brush or Floss
A person may be touching multiple surfaces each day, such as phone screens, faucet handles, keyboards, door handles, etc., and it's easy to spread germs this way. It's a good idea to wash your hands before cleaning your teeth so that you aren't accidentally spreading germs to the oral cavity as you maneuver the toothbrush or string floss.
Make Sure Your Flossing Products are Clean
When you floss, you should try and use a long piece of waxed floss since it's less likely to shred and since you can use a fresh piece of floss for each tooth. Shorter pieces of floss, like those found in floss picks, aren't always the best at removing debris because you use the same floss segment for the entire mouth, thus moving bacteria and particles between teeth as you floss. Flossing is better than not flossing, so if you do like to use picks, be sure to use a couple for each arch or quadrant so that the string isn't redistributing debris. Some people like to use water flossers, or water jets since they are incredibly effective at removing food particles. But one study found that bacteria could settle in a water flosser's nozzle after a few weeks, so be sure you are disinfecting this device every so often so that you aren't reintroducing bacteria to your mouth.
Store Your Toothbrush Correctly
After you brush your teeth, keep the toothbrush upright in a holder so that all the excess water can drain down. It's a good idea to let your toothbrush air dry after you rinse it off since moist closed containers can be breeding grounds for bacteria. Once the toothbrush is dry, then you can store it in a cupboard; if you leave the toothbrush in a holder, make sure that it's sitting further away from the toilet, as fecal particulates can settle on brushes. Closing the toilet lid before you flush helps prevent this issue as well.
Keep Family Members' Oral Hygiene Products Separate
While every family member may have his or her own toothbrush, you may share floss and toothpaste tubes. It's a good idea to let every person in the household have his or her own products since sharing items could increase the risk of cross-contamination and the spreading of viruses, like COVID-19. If you don't want to use separate products, at least store your toothbrushes in different holders so their bristles aren't touching. If someone in your family is sick, either replace their brush or sanitize it. One study found that UV ray treatments were the most effective way to sanitize a toothbrush compared to saline and chlorhexidine.
Keep all of these tips in mind as you brush and floss. Reach out to a local dentist to learn more.