A Dental Hygienist Says You Should Avoid These 6 Things When It Comes To Your Oral Health

My name is Jordan and I do not love flossing. Look, I get it: It's very important to floss as part of your oral hygiene. It can prevent long-term dental problems, and it makes getting your teeth cleaned much more bearable. I have no problems sticking to a healthy brushing routine, mostly thanks to the freshness I feel after spending two minutes taking care of my teeth. But aside from neglecting to floss on the reg, it turns out there are a number of things your dental hygienist wishes you wouldn't do, and TBH, I'm guilty of pretty much all of them.

Natica Boland, a registered dental hygienist at Aspen Dental, spoke with Elite Daily over email about some of the common problems she sees while treating patients, and I have to admit, I'm feeling very seen right now, guys.

The thing is, it's all too easy to see and feel the benefits of taking care of your body in other ways, whether that's following a fitness routine or nourishing yourself with plenty of nutrient-rich foods. But for me, at least, taking care of my teeth feels like something I do just so that I don't shock people with dragon breath.

In other words, taking care of your dental health can often feel like a chore, rather than something that brings you any noticeable benefits — but Boland says this mindset is a huge problem. Here are a few things she says you shouldn't do when taking care of your dental health.

Brushing too quickly

Yes, you probably already know that you should brush your teeth for two minutes at a time, multiple times a day, but according to Boland, hitting this time target really does make a difference, and it isn't just an arbitrary number. "Patients should remember to brush for two minutes, two times a day," she tells Elite Daily. "The average person (and I'm guilty of this as well) brushes for 47 seconds — that's not even half the time needed!"

Relying on mouthwash

I've definitely had to reach for mint gum or mouthwash when I was out and about and didn't have access to a proper toothbrush, but if you're making this a habit, Boland says that's not exactly the best way to take care of your oral health.

"The average person doesn’t need mouthwash; it’s not clinically needed unless you are at high risk for cavities, gingivitis, or periodontal disease," she tells Elite Daily. "Don’t skip brushing! Just swishing with mouthwash doesn’t remove the bacteria for good."

Skipping the dentist unless you have a problem

Much like how you should see a primary care doctor regularly for your general health, it's also crucial to keep up a dental routine, even when you aren't having any problems with your teeth, says Boland. "Please, make sure to see your dental hygienist for regular preventive care," she says. "We all have our car oil changed a few times a year, right?"

Using a firm toothbrush

"Don’t buy an extra firm or hard toothbrush," says Boland. "That can cause recession and wear away the gum line and even expose your root. When that happens, that can increase sensitivity and cavities, and can even wear the root away."

Instead, Boland suggests, opt for a super soft brush to avoid irritation. Even better, find an electric toothbrush that's within your budget. It not only keeps you from brushing too roughly, says Boland, but they often come with a built-in timer to keep you to two minutes.

Thinking of your teeth in isolation

It might surprise you just how much your oral health influences your overall body health, explains Boland. "The more the patient knows, the better their success; if they're reluctant to heed my advice, I send them home with a list of websites and fliers for them to review, or ask the dentist to step in."

While you might think the consequences of skipping brushing or flossing are just the occasional cavity, it could be much more severe than that. "These challenges affect the patient's health infinitely: decay, periodontal disease, infections, even systemically," says Boland. "The mouth is connected to the entire body; people don't realize this."

Assuming your oral health is genetic

I have to be honest: I've always assumed that whether or not I get cavities is predetermined, at least for the most part. For instance, riddle me this: Even though I brush my teeth way more often than my brother does, I've had a cavity before, and he hasn't. It seems like some of these things must just be the way my teeth are, right?

Well, not exactly. "It's heartbreaking when patients feel as if their health isn't in their control and give excuses for their current predicament," Boland tells Elite Daily. "For instance, thinking their oral health is not preventative or that their health is genetic: 'My family member has dentures so I will have to get them, too.'" Instead, the dental hygienist says, focus on taking great care of your own pearly whites as best as you can.

So what should you do? Well, the basics speak for themselves: regularly brushing, flossing, etc. But let me offer a simple piece of advice that might help you see your dental health as less of a chore: Instead of looking at these parts of your routine as things that you have to do, try to view it as valuable self care time you get to spend with yourself. Who knows — you might actually start to look forward to flossing.