A healthy body starts with a healthy mouth.
Tooth decay and gum disease can be painful but, thankfully, are totally preventable. Here’s how to keep your teeth in top shape and your smile shiny:
1. Get the right tools
Use a soft-bristled toothbrush (either manual or electric) with a flexible neck. These are the most effective at removing plaque and food without damaging your teeth or gums. Replace your brush as soon as it starts to lose shape, or every three months, whichever comes first. Fluoride gives your teeth extra strength so they can resist bacterial acid that causes tooth decay, so make sure your toothpaste has 1000-1500 parts per million (ppm) fluoride to give your teeth adequate protection.
2. Don’t rinse right away
Before rinsing your mouth with water, first spit out any excess toothpaste. This avoids the concentrated fluoride in the remaining toothpaste being washed away or diluted, so your mouth gets the full benefits.
3. Perfect your technique
Apply toothpaste to the full length of the toothbrush head. Start at the back of your mouth, with the toothbrush bristle at the gum line, and brush gently in a circular motion. If you’re using an electric toothbrush, guide the head slowly from tooth to tooth following the contours of the teeth and gums. Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time.
4. Clean in between
Flossing isn’t an optional extra! Nearly half the surface area of your teeth lies between them, so brushing alone means large parts of your teeth are left uncleaned. Flossing can help dislodge food, prevent bad breath and may also reduce gum disease by removing plaque from along the gum line. With about 45cm of floss, use a gentle up-and-down motion on one side of the tooth, just under the gum, and then back down the other side.
5. Get brush-free protection
If brushing isn’t possible, rinse your mouth with a fluoride mouthwash or chew sugar-free gum after meals to help prevent tooth decay.
6. Watch what goes in your mouth
Sugary food and drinks can cause dental decay. Limit your sugar intake to around six teaspoons a day. Remember alcohol can be very sugary and highly acidic which can cause dental disease. Tobacco increases the risk of gum disease and oral cancer, as well as causing teeth staining, bad breath and premature tooth loss.
7. Have regular dental check ups
If you haven’t seen your dentist for a check-up, clean and X-ray in the past six months, book an appointment now! Prevention, early detection and treatment can all help reduce the risk of oral health problems and disease. A clean and polish will remove any built-up plaque and keep your teeth looking great. A bitewing X-ray can identify problems between the teeth or below the gum that can’t be seen with the naked eye. During an appointment, your dentist will give advice and answer any questions you might have, as well as advise how often you should see them for regular appointments.