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8 ways to care for your teeth and gums

A healthy mouth can keep you healthier and happier as well as preventing uncomfortable conditions. These are our eight top tips for good oral hygiene.

Taking good care of your teeth can give you confidence in your smile and help to prevent gum disease and other issues that can cause a lot of discomfort.

Initiatives such as World Oral Health Day in March aim to educate people on good oral hygiene, and we’re supporting them by sharing these eight tips for a healthy mouth

1. Floss first

Before brushing, floss first to remove the plaque that forms along the gum line and any food that is wedged between the teeth.1

An alternative to the thread-like floss is dental tape which some people find easier to use. Make sure you are using it correctly though, as it can cause damage to your gums.2

2. Brush properly

You should be brushing twice a day using fluoride toothpaste to remove the plaque that can cause gum disease and tooth decay.1

It doesn’t matter if you use a manual or electronic toothbrush, as long as you brush the outer and inner surfaces of both rows of teeth and all chewing surfaces thoroughly.

You should also brush your tongue for fresher breath.3

3. Spit, don't rinse

After flossing and brushing, remember not to rinse your mouth with water as this will wash away the concentrated fluoride in the toothpaste.1

Fluoride protects the teeth from decay, and by rinsing your mouth you are diluting it which reduces the protection of your teeth.4

4. Watch your sugar intake

There are steps you can take throughout the day to protect your teeth, and one of the most significant is watching how much sugar you consume. Sugary food or drinks can lead to tooth decay, cavities, and eventually the need to remove damaged teeth.4

Avoid fizzy drinks where you can, and be aware of how much fruit juice you are drinking. Even though the fruit is healthy, the process of blending or juicing it releases sugar from the structure of the fruit that can damage your teeth.5

When you do have sugary drinks, use a straw to minimise the contact with your teeth and rinse your mouth with water afterwards.

It is also best to consume sugary snacks or drinks in one sitting to avoid continually bathing your teeth in sugar.

5. Avoid too much alcohol

Alcohol is another drink that can erode the surface of the teeth, removing the enamel that protects the inner layers.6 It can also lead to discolouration, especially if you prefer red wine or beers that are a darker shade.7

Cutting down can therefore do your teeth a lot of good, as well as benefiting your overall health.

6. Stop smoking

It’s a good idea to stop smoking too if you want to improve your oral hygiene. Tobacco smoke discolours the teeth and causes bad breath, while also contributing to gum disease and mouth cancer.

By kicking the habit you will not only be taking better care of your mouth but reduce the risk of lung cancer, heart disease, and kidney failure, among other dangerous conditions.

7. Know the signs of poor oral health

By knowing the signs of poor oral hygiene you can get to a professional for treatment before a small problem gets much bigger.

Here are the main signs and symptoms of tooth decay and other common issues:

  • Toothache
  • Sensitive teeth when eating or drinking something hot, cold or sweet
  • Bad breath
  • An unpleasant taste in the mouth
  • Dark spots on the teeth
  • A collection of pus in the gum8

8. Head to the hygienist

Regular visits to a dental hygienist give your mouth a thorough clean to remove damaging plaque and tartar. These professionals can also offer advice on how you can improve your oral hygiene and diagnose any issues that might need further treatment.

Appointments are usually quick, pain-free and inexpensive, and can make a big difference to your oral health.

The impact of not caring for your teeth and gums properly could be far worse than slight discomfort or some discolouration.

Gum disease can lead to lost teeth and the need for implants, while more severe cases could mean that oral and maxillofacial surgery is needed.

 

Sources

1 http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/dentalhealth/Pages/Teethcleaningguide.aspx
2 https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/dental-health/why-should-i-use-dental-floss/
3 http://www.colgate.com/en/us/oc/oral-health/basics/brushing-and-flossing/article/how-to-brush
4 http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Fluoride/Pages/Introduction.aspx
5 http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/dentalhealth/Pages/Keepteethhealthy.aspx
6 http://www.colgate.com/en/us/oc/oral-health/basics/mouth-and-teeth-anatomy/article/sw-281474979045308
7 http://www.colgate.com/en/us/oc/oral-health/life-stages/adult-oral-care/article/sw-281474979457163

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