Dental hygiene can make a real difference to your health and happiness, however a large number of people neglect to take care of their teeth properly. In fact, the majority of adults in the United Kingdom have had to undergo dental surgery at some point in their lives. This can be an expensive (and sometimes painful) endeavour which could have been avoided for many, if they had followed proper steps when caring for their teeth.
How to brush properly
Learning how to brush your teeth properly is one of the most important parts of dental hygiene, as this is something that you should do at least twice per day. Ineffectual brushing can actually have negative effects on your teeth and gums, so it is important that you are doing it right.
Children should be taught a proper routine early on, so that they can take care of their teeth properly and maintain good dental hygiene throughout their lives.
People are normally advised to brush their teeth once after breakfast and once before they go to bed at night. Unless they have been advised differently by their dentist, then adults and children should use an appropriate toothpaste. Whichever type of toothpaste you choose, make sure that your children do not eat or lick toothpaste directly from the tube. Very young children should only have a small smear of toothpaste on their teeth, whereas older children should use a pea sized blob. A little more than a pea sized blob is a sufficient amount of toothpaste for adults when they are brushing their teeth.
Brushing your teeth thoroughly will normally take about 2 minutes. Some children may find teeth brushing to be a less laborious experience if you use a timer to help them to keep track of how long they have been brushing for.
Make sure that you properly brush the inside and the outside surfaces of your teeth. Try to make sure that you brush all of your wisdom teeth properly (if you have them). If you have impacted teeth at the back and you are not intending to have them removed in the immediate future, make sure that you talk to your dentist about the best way to keep them clean. These areas can harbour bacteria if they are not properly cared for.
Once you have finished brushing your teeth, you should spit out excess toothpaste, but do not rinse your mouth out. Rinsing will reduce the concentration of fluoride which remains in your mouth and it can help to reduce the protective effects of the substance.
In order to keep your teeth and gums healthy, you should also floss regularly. Flossing helps to clean between your teeth and it will remove any particles which are trapped near your gums.
There are several ways a person can floss and one way may not be suitable for another, but here’s an example, and another example below from youtube. To floss properly you will need roughly about 30 – 45cm of floss. Wrap opposing ends around your middle fingers, so that you have a taut bit of floss in between. Next, pinch some of that strand between your thumb and forefinger to create a shorter, tighter length. Guide the length between your teeth and move backwards and forwards gently to clean the area properly. Use your forefingers and thumb to carefully control the floss, so that it does not snap or ping quickly into the gums. Make sure that you run the floss under all accessible sections of your teeth, and make sure to include the teeth near to the back of your mouth.
Alternatively, you may want to use interdental brushes (read more on interdental brushes here) to clean in between your teeth. These brushes are much better than toothpicks, because they have been designed to be soft and gentle on your gums.
Foods to Eat and Foods to Avoid
Your oral health can also be affected by the food that you eat. Whilst some foods will help to strengthen your teeth and build healthy gums, other foods will degrade your teeth or cause severe staining. Sugary foods are the worst for your teeth. Fizzy drinks and some sugary fruit juices completely coat the teeth in sugar and cause massive build ups of plaque if consumed regularly. Many of these drinks also have high levels of acidity, which can cause problems for your teeth.
Hard boiled sweets and lollipops are also terrible for your teeth, because they cause you to swill sugar around your mouth for a long time. Chewy toffees are not much better; these sweets risk breaking your teeth or pulling out loose teeth or fillings.
If you want to keep your teeth looking white, avoid drinks such as red wine, coffee and foods like red cabbage or beetroot. These are likely to stain your teeth. Smoking will also stain your teeth if you do it regularly. Although it is possible to get home whitening kits for stained teeth, they are not always effective, and professional whitening may be recommended to restore your smile. However, whitening is not brilliant for your teeth, so it is better to take preventative steps, rather than searching out a cure once you have already been affected.
On the other hand, there are some foods and drinks which have a more positive effect. For example, plain water can act in the same way that saliva does, in order to wash sugar and acid off of your teeth. Some bottled water also contains added fluoride, although it is always best to check the label.
Dairy products are great for your teeth because they contain calcium, which strengthens teeth and bones. High fibre foods are also good for your teeth, because they require a “good” sort of chewing which strengthens your teeth and jaw muscles.
Ask your dentist if you want further advice on what is good for your teeth and what is bad for them.