A guide to comprehensive dental care
Keeping teeth healthy requires a lifetime of care through an established routine. You may have straight, white, cavity-free teeth and healthy gums but if you don’t look after them properly, problems will arise.
Don’t go to bed unless you’ve brushed your teeth.
We all know we’re supposed to brush our teeth twice a day: in the morning and then again at night, after dinner. But way too many people end up skipping the night-time brush – usually because of tiredness. It’s essential you don’t do this, no matter how exhausted you are. Germs and plaque accumulate throughout the day and it’s important to get rid of them before you go to bed.
The way you brush is as important as when you brush. Don’t move your toothbrush up and down and don’t be too harsh (this risks stripping your teeth of protective enamel). Instead, move your toothbrush gently in circular motions. Make sure you cover all your teeth, including the often neglected ones at the back of your mouth.
When you brush your teeth, remember your tongue.
Plaque tends to build up on your tongue if you don’t brush it, causing bad breath. Really bad breath. Plus it can lead to a bunch of other oral health problems. Make sure you brush your tongue (gently) every time you brush your teeth.
If you’re not using a fluoride toothpaste, you should be.
Forget advertisements that scream about whitening effects and minty flavours. Whatever toothpaste you choose, should contain fluoride. It’s true that fluoride has come under scrutiny for how it impacts oral health but that’s only in large doses. The small amount of fluoride in your toothpaste is still your best defence against tooth decay.
Flossing is as important as brushing.
Flossing does a lot more than removing the small bits of food that get stuck in between your teeth. It also stimulates your gums, reduces plaque and the risks of inflammation. You don’t need to floss twice a day though. Just once will do the trick. Flossing can be difficult for young children and older adults with arthritis but there are plenty of tools that can help. Check your drugstore for ready-to-use dental flossers. They’ll make flossing much, much easier.
Keep a bottle of mouthwash on the shelf.
Despite the zillion advertisements on mouthwash, most people don’t really use it. But mouthwash has three benefits you don’t want to lose out on. It reduces the amount of acid in your mouth, it cleans areas that are typically hard to brush (like in and around the gums) and it remineralizes teeth. There are special brands that cater to children and those with sensitive teeth.
Water’s supposed to be a miracle cure for everything, isn’t it? It helps improve skin, digestion, it aids weightloss, it obviously keeps you hydrated and now it turns out, it’s beneficial for oral health as well. Drink water after every meal. It will help wash out the effects of sticky and acidic foods and beverages that can harm your teeth in the long run.
Limit sugary and acidic foods.
You don’t have to cut them out altogether, you really don’t. But be mindful of how much you consume. Sugar, for example, converts into acid in your mouth. This erodes enamel and causes cavities. Similarly, acidic food is also rather harsh on enamel.
See your dentist twice a year. At least.
No matter how excellent your oral hygiene habits are, you should still be visiting your dentist every six months for cleaning and check ups. Prevention is better than cure, they say, and this applies to teeth as well.