Brush Daily, Twice Daily
Brush your teeth every day. It sounds weird that this advice needs to be given, but it's actually a problem in places like the UK, where the Daily Mail reports that 7.5 million Britons don't brush their teeth regularly.
So, if you're not a regular brusher, start doing it. Brush once in the morning, and once at night before bed. You should spend roughly 2 minutes brushing, with the head of your toothbrush angles up toward the teeth.
Use The Right Brush
Use a simple brush that gets the job done. You don't need fancy motorized ones, however you should have one with soft bristles that gets replaced about once every three months. A hard brush may scratch the enamel, and children should use brushes that are designed for smaller hands and mouths, while older adults should use a larger handle if they have trouble holding onto the brush.
Rinse the brush thoroughly and consider spraying the bristle head with a 90 percent solution of alcohol before and after brushing. This will kill off bacteria that might stick around after you're done.
Floss every day, twice daily. Again, you don't have to spend a lot of money on fancy flosses. Basically, you just need to get a decent quality floss that's coated with wax, ideally. Spend a minute or two cleaning between your teeth.
Work the floss between your teeth and move it up and down on both sides of the tooth. You should be "cupping" the teeth with the floss, and cleaning in a "C" shape. This video explains the mechanics.
An important takeaway from flossing is that your teeth aren't clean unless or until the floss starts to "squeak" against the tooth. This indicates that the bacteria has been removed and the wax is rubbing against the tooth - it's squeaky clean, literally.
Go To The Dentist
Don't think that, because you brush and floss regularly, you have no obligation to go to the dentist. The dentist can help you by professionally cleaning your teeth and keeping them in tip top shape. A professional cleaning may also uncover problems that you miss each day while brushing and flossing.
Even with regular maintenance, it's possible to develop gum disease or other problems.
If you're like most people, you don't have dental insurance, or your dental insurance only covers limited cleanings and dental work. If you're struggling to pay for dental care, you should consider private dental insurance through mydental.guardianlife.com.
Most dentists suggest that you have your teeth professionally cleaned at least once every 6 months. If you're not used to going this often, or if you haven't gone in over a year, it's good idea to get your teeth cleaned on the 6 month schedule.
Once you've sorted out any issues, you can probably back off to once per year, but only at the request of your doctor. If your dentist believes you are a high-risk individual for gum disease, then you should come in at least on schedule, and that schedule may increase based on your oral health over time.
Change Your Diet
Yes, this is necessary. Most people don't want to change their diet because there are certain foods that they've become accustomed to. At the same time, it's known that sugary and starchy foods contribute to tooth decay.
If your mid-afternoon snack is a can of soda or a bag of candy, you're in trouble - your teeth are taking a beating, and the acid that's in these foods is directly causing damage to your teeth. On top of that, there are bacteria that naturally live in your saliva. They feed off the sugar and produce acidic waste products.
This acid, generated by the bacteria, then erodes your tooth enamel. When enough enamel has been eroded, the bacteria, which are normally "friendly" turn pathogenic. In other words, they become harmful and can cause cavities, which eventually cause the loss of teeth.
Eating more vegetables, reducing your intake of sugary juices, sweet fruits, and processed foods is a good start. If you have existing oral health problems, you may also want to decrease the amount of starches in your diet from foods like potatoes and corn, or from beans and legumes, unless you also plan to brush more regularly to eliminate the starch as a substrate (food source) for the bacteria in your mouth.
At the end of the day, it's about reducing junk food and food which may help bacteria thrive and destroy your teeth.
Rachel Bailey encounters oral health problems in her public health role. She is keen to discuss issues like dental hygiene with an online audience and her ideas and insights can be found on a number of different websites.
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