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Taking care of your body also includes your oral health. Dental hygiene is the key to prevent any deterioration, infection and/or disease in your mouth and teeth. Your teeth are one of the first things that people take notice about you, which is why you should take care of it. Here are some tips for healthy teeth, gums and a beautiful smile:
✓ Brush Regularly and Properly – Make it a habit to brush your mouth at least twice a day. Emphasis on the ‘mouth’: it is important to make sure you are cleaning your gums, tongue and the roof of your mouth because bacteria will grow anywhere, not just your teeth.
✓ Flossing – Most people forget to floss, but the soft bristles on your toothbrush cannot reach everywhere, brushing your teeth does not get rid of any food particles or debris that are stuck in between your teeth. Remember, just because you cannot see it, doesn’t mean it is not there.
✓ Visit Your Dentist Regularly – Regular check-ups and cleanings with your hygienist and dentist help maintain your oral health by removing built-up plaque and catching any problems early on.
✓ Re-think Your Drink – Coffee, soda and alcohol are acidic drinks which slowly eat away at your teeth, so try to avoid these drinks and any sweetened beverages. If you can’t resist consider using a straw to avoid direct contact and prevent staining.
✓ Do Not Smoke – Tobacco stains your teeth and tongue and the smoke harms your body’s immune system which makes it difficult for your body to heal tissues, including those in your mouth. It also increases the risk of getting gum disease and/or oral cancer.
As easy as it seems, there are probably ways that you could improve your brushing skills. We are all human and make mistakes and luckily there are ways to fix them. Here are some common mistakes and professional advice on how to brush our teeth more effectively:
1) Picked the wrong brush – Whether it’s manual or electric, the bristles should be soft. The bristles need to be able to bend so that they could reach under the gums. Soft bristles clean very effectively vs hard bristles; hard bristles can actually wear down your tooth structure.
2) Brushing too hard – Brushing harder isn’t better. The plaque is soft and loose so you don’t have to scrub intensely. Think of brushing as a massage as opposed to a scrub.
3) Rushed – Slow down. Brushing your teeth should take at least 2 minutes each time. Rushing will lead to missed spots which can build up plaque over time.
4) Keeping your toothbrush for too long – When the bristles on a toothbrush become discolored, dented or frayed, it is time for a new toothbrush. The toothbrush is less effective once worn down, so try to change it out every 3-4 months. Also, keep it open to air when drying to prevent mold/bacteria growth.
5) Back & Forth – Brushing left and right is a common mistake and by doing it this way, you miss a lot of surface area that still needs to be cleaned. Start at the bun, go up and down in small circular motions.
6) Brush your gums – Bacteria likes to hang out in your gums so don’t forget that gumline. Brush at a 45-degree angle to get slightly under that gum (approx. 1mm), also brush on the insides of your mouth to prevent plaque and calculus build-up.
7) Wait a bit – You want to give your teeth a bit of a break after eating. You still have acid in your mouth after eating so going straight in with an abrasive (brushing teeth) can actually do more damage. Wait 15-20 minutes after eating, this leaves enough time for your saliva to do its work on the acid in your mouth. If you can’t wait, rinse your mouth with some water first to help get rid of the acid prior to brushing.
Not all toothpaste are the same. There are different types designed for different needs depending on the person. Try to look for a toothpaste that has fluoride because it helps maintain good oral health because it protects your teeth from decay and can also help reduce tooth sensitivity. Ask your dental hygienist for their suggestions based on your specific needs. You should choose a toothpaste with the CDA Seal of Approval, as these have had their health benefits verified by the Canadian Dental Association.
Flossing removes plaque and bacteria that your toothbrush cannot reach. Without flossing, you are missing 1/3rd of your tooth surfaces. Flossing helps prevent calculus (tartar) buildup, which can only be removed by professional cleaning. Floss at least once a day and plaque will never get the chance to harden (takes 12-24 hrs. for plaque to harden into calculus). Floss before you brush.
1) Take 18 inches of dental floss
2) Wind the floss around your thumb or index finger in one hand, and a small amount on the opposite hand
3) Keep 1 – 2 inches of floss in between figures and use your index finger to guide the floss between your teeth
4) Gently guide floss between your teeth using a zig-zag motion than when you reach the base of your teeth (where gum & teeth meet, curve the floss in a “C” shape
5) Slide floss up and down against the surface and under the gum line, don’t forget the backside. Use a fresh section of floss for each tooth.
You want to keep your teeth healthy for as long as possible so keep an eye out for early warning signs. Catching problems in a timely manner prevent them from getting worse. If you experience any of the following symptoms, book an appointment with your dentist in Calgary as soon as possible to maintain good dental hygiene.