Most of us don’t pay attention to our dental health until there is a problem and then we can’t put off going to see a dentist. The truth is that good oral health cannot be built in a day. It takes consistent care and effort. From routine brushing to using the right toothpaste and avoiding certain foods, it is the simple choices you make every day that influence your dental health.
Here are seven basic tips you must do to keep your teeth in good shape.
1. Brush twice a day
The reason it’s the first on every dental health checklist is because it’s so important. We brush our teeth to remove the plaque that forms on them. Plaque is a mix of leftover food (very tiny particles), bacteria that is feeding on the leftover food, acids and other by products.
Plaque is what causes microscopic holes in your teeth which, over time, turn into cavities. The rule of brushing your teeth twice a day came about because it is believed that plaque needs to reach a certain stage of maturity to be able to cause damage. And it takes over 12 hours for the bacteria to reach that stage. Brushing your teeth at night before bed and once during the day will prevent plaque from getting to that stage.
2. Use the right brushing technique
Technique really matters when you brush your teeth. You should be brushing your teeth for at least two minutes and rather than a mechanical back and forth sawing motion, focus on using your brush up and down to get the bits of food stuck between your teeth out. Use short strokes and don’t forget to brush both the outer and the inner surfaces of all your teeth. Cleaning between the teeth is also important and your toothbrush’s bristles may not be able to reach there so invest in dental floss that will.
If you’re unsure if your technique is good, simply ask your dentist. In Auckland city or New Plymouth, Dental Artistry can advise you of best practices and ensure your teeth remain healthy for life.
3. Use the right products
When you are choosing a toothbrush, make sure you get one with soft bristles so you don’t damage your gums. A toothbrush with a small head will help you reach the awkward areas (like the molars at the very back). Electric toothbrushes are said to be more effective.
For between the teeth, speak to your dentist about using floss or other products to get at the bacteria that is hiding there.
You should use a fluoride toothpaste as this replaces the minerals that your teeth have lost and helps to make them stronger. Some ‘natural’ toothpastes do not contain fluoride, so always check the box.
The longer you give the fluoride to work on your teeth, the better. So, it has been suggested that you shouldn’t rinse your teeth after brushing them at night. This way, you give the fluoride plenty of time to work. This little change is said to reduce tooth decay by up to 25% – a great way to avoid visits to the dentist!
4. Limit ‘sugar hits’ to no more than four per day
Your teeth can naturally tolerate up to four ‘sugar hits’ per day, without causing your teeth permanent damage. Try counting how many times you consume sugar, in the form of hot drinks with sugar, soft drinks, snacks with sugar or refined carbohydrates like crisps.
Limit the amount of aerated drinks that you consume. The food acids and sugars that are in these drinks tend to dissolve or soften the tooth enamel. ‘Free sugars’ are those that are not naturally present (like the sugar in fruit) but are those that are added to food products by manufacturers. Free sugars are also present in honey and syrups. They feed the bacteria present on your teeth, helping it grow. The WHO (World Health Organisation) recommends that free sugars should take up less than 5% of your daily calorie intake. This translates to about eight spoons of sugar per day for an adult.
5. Don’t smoke
It has been established that smoking is very bad for your health in general. With regard to your oral health, smoking yellows your teeth and can give you terrible breath. It is also puts you at risk for gum disease and oral cancer. Smoking slows down healing and this may have an impact on your recovery time after a dental procedure.
6. Should you use mouthwash after brushing?
Your teeth have less protection overnight due to lower saliva production, so it is recommended that you spit, not rinse after brushing, including rinsing with mouthwash. Rinsing with water or mouthwash washes away the fluoride from toothpaste, so it can no longer work on your teeth overnight. Don’t eat or drink anything after brushing your teeth at night either.
7. Your dentist is your friend
It’s always a good idea to get regular dental health check-ups. Visit your dentist once a year and your dental hygienist six months later for a thorough teeth clean and scaling. If there are signs of disease, a cavity or anything else, your dentist in Auckland or elsewhere will be able to catch it early.
If you’ve spotted a cavity or notice something irregular, make an appointment sooner rather than later. Catching teeth decay early helps to minimise further damage. Letting problems go unresolved can mean root canals or worst-case scenario, tooth removal and the need for dental implants.
If you have left it too late and you are experiencing serious tooth problems, you may be considering dental implants. If you need to get a price or speak to someone about what’s involved, Dental Artistry in Auckland are the one’s to talk to. Check out the full guide to dental implants and then give us a call on (09) 524 4541 to discuss.
If you look after your teeth, you can ensure your teeth remain intact and healthy for life. Just a few small, regular changes to your routine make a big difference to your teeth. So, clean x2 a day, floss daily, use fluoride toothpaste, avoid smoking and visit your dentist regularly to ensure a beautiful smile and healthy teeth for life.