Why are my teeth so important?
Teeth help us to chew and digest food. They help us to talk, and to pronounce different sounds clearly. Finally, teeth help to give our face its shape.A healthy smile can be a great asset and because this is so important, it makes sense to give your teeth the best care possible.
It is very important that you keep up a good oral hygiene routine to keep your teeth and gums healthy at home. Gum disease is the largest cause of tooth loss in adults and has been linked to other medical problems such as, heart disease, strokes, diabetes and respiratory (lung) disease. Gum disease is a preventable condition and can be treated and kept under control with regular cleaning sessions and check-ups, preventing further problems. Tooth decay causes pain and destruction of tooth structure which necessitates fillings, crowns or inlays. If tooth decay is not treated, the nerve of the tooth can become infected and die, causing an abscess (gumboil). This may then need root canal treatment or even extraction.
How do I keep my teeth and gums healthy?
It is easy to keep your mouth clean and healthy, and keep it that way. A simple routine of brushing for two minutes, twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and cleaning between the teeth(flossing), good eating habits, having sugary food and drinks less often and regular dental check-ups can help prevent most dental problems.
Although most people brush regularly, many don’t clean between their teeth (flossing) and some people don’t have regular dental check-ups. A few small changes in your daily routine can make a big difference in the long run.
Your dentist or dental hygienist can remove any build-up of plaque or tartar on your teeth and treat any gum disease that has already appeared. But daily dental care is up to you, and the main weapons are the toothbrush and flossing (cleaning between the teeth).
Why is brushing important?
Daily brushing of your teeth and gums and cleaning between your teeth is important because it removes plaque. If the plaque isn’t removed, it continues to build up, feeding on the food debris left behind and causing tooth decay and gum disease.
Which type of toothbrush should I use?
Your dentist will be able to recommend a toothbrush suitable for you. However, adults should choose a small to medium size brush with soft to medium multi-tufted, round-ended nylon bristles or ‘filaments’. The head should be small enough to reach into all parts of the mouth: especially the back of the mouth where it can be difficult to reach. Children need to use smaller brushes but with the same type of filaments.
You can now buy more specialised toothbrushes.
For instance, people with sensitive teeth can now use softer bristled brushes. There are also smaller headed toothbrushes for those people with crooked or irregular teeth
How often should I brush my teeth?
Be sure to brush your teeth two times a day morning and last thing at night with a fluoride toothpaste,
How should I brush?
Brushing removes plaque and food particles from the inner, outer and biting surfaces of your teeth
1. Place the head of your toothbrush against your teeth, then tilt the bristle tips to a 45 degree angle against the gumline. Move the brush in small circular movements, several times, on all the surfaces of every tooth.
2. Brush the outer surfaces of each tooth, upper and lower, keeping the bristles angled against the gumline.
3. Use the same method on the inside surfaces of all your teeth.
4. Brush the biting surfaces of the teeth.
5. To clean the inside surfaces of the front teeth, tilt the brush vertically and make several small circular strokes with the front part of the brush.
6. Brushing your tongue will help freshen your breath and will clean your mouth by removing bacteria.
How often should I change my toothbrush?
Worn-out toothbrushes cannot clean your teeth properly and may damage your gums. It is important to change your toothbrush every two to three months, or sooner if the filaments become worn. When bristles become splayed, they do not clean properly.
What sort of toothpaste should I use?
A fluoride toothpaste should be used to brush teeth. Fluoride helps to strengthen and protect teeth, which can reduce tooth decay in adults and children.
All children up to three years old, should use a smear of toothpaste with a fluoride level of no less than 1000ppm (parts per million). After three years old, they should use a toothpaste that contains 1350ppm -1500ppm.
Some children’s toothpastes only have about half the fluoride that adult toothpastes have. They only give limited protection for the teeth. If your children are under 7 you should keep an eye on them when they brush their teeth and encourage them not to swallow the toothpaste.
As well as regular family toothpastes, there are many special toothpastes. These include tartar control for people who are prone to tartar build-up, and ones for people with sensitive teeth. Total care toothpastes include ingredients to help fight gum disease, freshen breath and help reduce plaque build-up. Whitening toothpastes are good at removing staining, but are not strong enough to change the natural shade of the teeth.
To have a clean and healthy mouth you need to use the correct dental care products. Ask your dentist or hygienist to tell you the options and give their recommendations.
You do not need to cover the head of your brush in toothpaste. A pea-sized amount is enough. Children should use a pea-sized smear of toothpaste.
How should I clean between my teeth (flossing)?
You can clean between your teeth with interdental brushes and dental floss. Flossing removes plaque and food particles from between your teeth and under the gumline, areas a toothbrush can’t reach. You should clean between your teeth at least once a day. Your dentist or hygienist can show you proper flossing techniques.
The following suggestions may help:
1. Break off about 18 inches of floss, and wind most of it around one of your middle fingers. Wind the remaining floss around the same finger of the other hand. As you use the floss, you will take up the used section with this finger.
2. Hold the floss tightly between your thumb and forefingers, with about an inch of floss between them, leaving no slack. Use a gentle ‘rocking’ motion to guide the floss between your teeth. Do not jerk the floss or snap the floss into the gums.
3. When the floss reaches the gumline, curve it into a C-shape against one tooth until you feel resistance.
4. Hold the floss against the tooth. Gently scrape the side of the
tooth, moving the floss away from the gum. Repeat on the other side of the gap, along the side of the next tooth.
5. Don’t forget the back of your last tooth.
When flossing, keep to a regular pattern. Start at the top and work from left to right, then move to the bottom and again work from the left to right
It is also very important to clean around the edges of any crowns, bridges or implants. This can be difficult to do effectively using traditional floss and there are now special flosses to do the job thoroughly. Ask your dentist or hygienist about on how to use these properly and which method you should use right. This way you’re less likely to miss any teeth. At first it also helps to look in the mirror.
Should I use a mouthwash?
Mouthwashes are mainly used to freshen breath. If you have to keep using a breath freshener to hide any bad breath, you should see your dentist. Bad breath can be a sign of unhealthy teeth and gums or of poor general health.
A fluoride mouthwash can help prevent tooth decay. Your dentist may recommend an antibacterial mouthwash to help control plaque and reduce gingivitis (gum disease).
Can my diet help?
Many people think that it is a high level of sugar in your diet that causes decay, but this is not necessarily so. It is how often you have sugar in your diet, not the amount that causes problems. It takes an average of an hour for the mouth to neutralise the acid caused by eating and drinking sugar. It is therefore important to limit the number of attacks by keeping sugary foods and drinks to mealtimes.
The last word
Good dental health begins with you. By following this simple routine, you can keep your mouth clean and healthy:
Brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day using fluoride toothpaste.
Use a small to medium size toothbrush.
Use a toothbrush with soft to medium multi-tufted, round-ended nylon bristles.
Use small circular movements to clean your teeth.
Change your toothbrush regularly, every 3 months or earlier if the filaments are worn.
Clean between your teeth using interdental brushes, dental floss or dental tape.
Have sugary drinks and foods less often.
Visit your dentist regularly, as often as they recommend.