Keeping your mouth healthy is important in the scheme of your overall health. A regular dental care routine is essential to good oral hygiene. Here are our top tips for healthy teeth and gums:
1. Have regular dental check-ups
A regular visit to your dental care provider, either yearly or twice-yearly, is vital to maintaining good oral health. Visiting the dreaded dentist on a regular basis can prevent cavities, gum disease, root canals and other more serious dental health problems. It is better to plan a twice-yearly check-up than to wait until you experience a problem (usually painful!) before calling the dentist. Your dentist will also be able to advise you on how to prevent dental problems. Early signs of a problem are pain in a tooth, sore or bleeding gums when brushing, and persistent bad breath.
2. Brush at least twice a day
Brushing removes plaque from your teeth, lessening the chance of your teeth developing cavities. Plaque is a sticky, soft substance which builds up on your teeth after eating. Flossing each day will remove plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. Removing plaque will also help prevent gum disease and promote good oral hygiene.
3. Eat well
Foods and drinks that are high in sugar encourage bacteria in your mouth to produce acids, which damage tooth enamel, leading to cavities and gum disease. Limit the number of snacks between meals, brush your teeth after eating and, as your mother probably told you, keep your mitts off those delicious sweet treats (boiled sugar lollies and dried fruit are the worst culprits).
4. Get treatment for dental problems - straight away!
Oral health problems are not the kind of health issues that will resolve themselves without professional help, so go to the dentist at the first sign of a problem. The longer you leave it, the worse it’s likely to get. Although the cost may be high, the expense is likely to increase if you skimp on dental care treatments. What began as a cavity, if left untreated, could become a root canal or tooth extraction. This is required when decay has reached and damaged the nerve of your tooth.
5. Invest in a new toothbrush every three months
If you use a regular, manual toothbrush, you should replace it every three months to ensure that it continues to do its job effectively. If you suffer from gum disease, the lifespan of your toothbrush should be just four to six weeks, as bacteria are often lurking in the bristles of the brush. To make sure your toothbrush is as hygienic as possible, rinse it with hot water after use.
6. Good technique
So now you know what you should be doing, but what about brushing and flossing technique? As adults, many of us brush in a way that may not be effectively cleaning your teeth – it may even lead to dental damage! For good dental care, remember to:
- Use a brush with soft bristles (look for the seal of approval from your national Dental Association)
- Make sure your brush is small enough to get to those hard-to-reach places in your mouth
- Brush with bristles at a 45-degree angle towards your gum line, using short back-and-forth strokes when brushing your teeth
- Be gentle: brushing too vigorously or with too much pressure can lead to sensitivity
- Brush thoroughly, covering the outside, inside and chewing surfaces of the teeth, as well as the gums, tongue and mouth
- Don’t rush: a good brush should take about three minutes
- Floss after you brushing, gently guiding the dental floss between your teeth. Don’t let the floss snap down between your teeth, as this can cause gum damage. When you reach the gum, gently cross to the other tooth and work the floss up its surface
Enjoying good dental health and oral hygiene is important, not only for overall health, but for feeling confident when talking, smiling and interacting with others. If you are concerned about tooth pain, sore gums or other dental problems, go to your dentist. The quicker you get on the right track, the sooner you can start enjoying the benefits of healthy teeth, mouth and gums.