Oral health is much more important than many people think. Maintaining healthy teeth and gums isn’t only necessary for good breath and an attractive smile. There are many different conditions that can affect our teeth if they aren’t looked after properly, some of which can be painful and debilitating, and, without the right care, we are a very real risk of them falling out. However, that’s not all. Studies have shown that people with poor oral hygiene are also more likely to experience some other unpleasant, chronic health conditions – some of which can have serious consequences. These include diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, and more.
Developing great oral hygiene habits is one of the best ways of preserving the health of our teeth and gums. Here’s what you need to know about some of the best oral hygiene practices for healthy and attractive teeth.
When we say properly, we mean in line with the recommended guidelines provided by dentists. This means at least twice each day, using fluoride toothpaste, for at least two minutes each time. It can be important to remind ourselves of these guidelines, because when we are tired or busy, it can be easy to overlook the recommendations and cut brushing times, meaning that we aren’t cleaning our teeth as effectively as we could.
While there’s nothing wrong with using a manual toothbrush if you prefer them, research suggests that electric toothbrushes really do clean your teeth better and people who use them have healthier teeth and gums. This is thought to be because electric toothbrushes have heads that rotate at speeds that it is impossible to replicate by hand, and this rapid movement removes plaque more effectively. Electric toothbrushes can also take much of the effort out of brushing, which can be helpful if you have a physical condition that can make holding or using a toothbrush more difficult.
You may be tempted to think that the harder you brush your teeth, the cleaner they will be. However, this isn’t the case. Studies have shown that brushing too vigorously can actually be detrimental to the health of your teeth and gums. This is because, over time, it can remove some of the natural enamel of the teeth, which exposes the more sensitive dentin beneath it. This increases your risk of decay and tooth sensitivity. Brushing too hard can also cause damage to the delicate gum tissue surrounding the teeth and even gum recession. This is where the gums pull back from teeth, creating pockets that can trap bacteria and food debris and increase your risk of decay and gum disease. Use a soft-bristled brush gently but thoroughly instead.
While most people remember to brush their teeth every day, far fewer people remember or make the effort to floss their teeth. Granted, it can be a little trickier and more time-consuming until you become well-practiced, but flossing is actually just as important as brushing your teeth for your oral hygiene. This is because flossing removes bacteria and food debris that may become trapped between teeth, in tiny gaps where toothbrushes can’t reach. Left to accumulate, they can cause decay and lead to gum disease. If you can’t get on with conventional ‘string’ floss, consider some of the modern alternatives that are available including interdental brushes and water flossers that use high-powered jets of water to force out debris and bacteria from between the teeth.
There are lots of different mouthwashes available. If you choose to use one, it is important that you select one that contains fluoride. Those that don’t will only freshen your breath and won’t have any positive effect on the health of your teeth. Meanwhile, fluoride mouthwashes, used after brushing, help to protect your teeth from acids produced by plaque – which will start to form on your teeth straight away. The fluoride in a fluoride mouthwash also soaks into the enamel coating of your teeth which can help to protect against decay in people who are particularly susceptible to them.
This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning how important it is for you to monitor what you eat and drink, because this will have a direct impact on the health and condition of your teeth and gums. Try and choose foods and drinks that are low in sugar and acid, drink plenty of water to help flush away bacteria and food debris, and try not to snack. If you do snack between meals, make healthy choices, and follow your snack with a large drink or some chewing gum to help minimize the impact it will have on your dental health.
Finally, if you can, quit smoking. Smoking has been proven time and time again to be just as bad for your teeth and gums as it is for your general health. Studies show that patients who smoke are more likely to experience dental decay and gum disease.
For more advice on the best oral hygiene practices for healthy teeth and gums, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our knowledgeable dental team.