Your teeth are one of the most essential parts of your body. They play a substantial role in most of the everyday activities that keep us going through life. They help us eat our food and communicate with others, not to mention the confidence and self-esteem that a beautiful smile can give us.
But as with anything, your teeth will not last forever. Your mouth can be susceptible to all kinds of afflictions like decay, gum disease, and tooth loss. Even if you have perfect teeth now, there is no guarantee they will all be there in twenty years time. If you want to ensure that your radiant smile lasts well into your pensioner years, it is crucial to build good dental habits. Looking after your teeth and gums on a daily basis will set you up in good stead for the future. A healthy mouth will help you avoid any costly dental procedures and make you feel good about yourself.
Here are some best practices for looking after your teeth.
1. Never skip brushing your teeth
We’ve all been there. You get home late, you’re tired, and you just want to get straight into bed and go to sleep. Brushing your teeth is the last thing on your mind. What’s the harm in skipping it just this once? In the grand scheme of things, if you miss one single brushing session across your whole lifetime, your teeth will be fine. But that’s rarely the case, is it? It’s usually a common occurrence amongst people with poor sleep habits and messy schedules, and it is a bad habit to fall into. Throughout the day, germs and plaque accumulate on the surfaces of your teeth and gums and brushing at night is essential to clean them before you sleep. If you regularly neglect to brush, you are making yourself more susceptible to conditions like decay and gum disease.
Break out of this habit by enforcing a regular morning and nighttime routine. Making dental hygiene part of a fixed routine that you follow on waking up and going to bed ensures that you will never miss it out. If you’re planning on having a late night, you could even carry a small disposable toothbrush in your purse, bag or car as a backup in case your plans change.
It is recommended you clean your teeth at least twice a day: once in the morning and again at night.
2. Brush well
Briefly touching a brush to your teeth for a few seconds is not sufficient; you must ensure you are brushing well. You need to consider both how you brush, and how long you are brushing for. In fact, a poor brushing technique can be worse than no brushing at all. Take your time and be gentle. You should move your brush in slow, circular motions around every surface of each tooth. Be careful not to brush too hard or you may irritate your gums, but be thorough or your teeth will not be sufficiently clean. The whole process should take you at least two minutes.
If you find it difficult to follow the correct technique, an electric toothbrush can help you. Many modern toothbrushes contain timers that tell you how long to brush for, and sensors that will flash if you are brushing too hard.
3. Don’t neglect the tongue
Most people don’t even think to clean their tongue, but it can be just as important as cleaning the teeth. Plaque can also build up on the tongue, leading to bad breath and other oral health conditions. Maintain your tongue’s health by giving it a brush at the same time you clean your teeth.
There is only so much a toothbrush can do. Even if you diligently clean your teeth twice a day, you may not be cleaning those hard-to-reach areas in between the teeth. Flossing regularly can help you to get rid of more plaque and prevent gum problems. If you are new to flossing, you may find that your gums bleed a little at first, but as long as you are gentle and you keep it up, this will stop soon enough.
You should floss before you clean your teeth rather than after, as this frees up plaque and germs to make it easier to clean your teeth when brushing. If you find it difficult to use floss for whatever reason, you could instead buy ready-to-use floss picks which are more comfortable to hold and use.
5. Use a fluoride toothpaste
There are so many different types of toothpaste available in stores that it can be difficult to know which to buy. They all offer various benefits like whitening and gum protection, but how do you know which one is the best? Don’t panic. You don’t need to pay too much attention to all the fancy flavours and options. The most important thing to look for is a toothpaste that contains fluoride. Fluoride is your primary defence against tooth decay and cavities, as it fights harmful bacteria and builds a protective barrier for your teeth.
Most popular toothpaste brands these days will contain fluoride, but be careful to check before you buy. Pastes with specialist functions like whitening and sensitivity protection often do not.
6. Use mouthwash
Although using mouthwash is not essential, it is an excellent habit to get into to ensure your teeth have that extra level of cleanliness. Mouthwash can help your oral hygiene in several ways. It cleans plaque and germs from the hard-to-reach areas of your mouth, it reduces the overall level of decay-causing acidity, and provides minerals to help keep the teeth strong. Avoid using mouthwash directly after brushing, as it will immediately wash away the fluoride from the toothpaste. Either wait 30 minutes after brushing or choose a different time to use mouthwash, such as after a meal.
7. Drink more water
Drinking water is fantastic for your overall health and can make you less susceptible to a vast range of different conditions. Staying hydrated is good for your mouth, particularly after meals, because it helps to reduce the effect of acidic or sticky foods. It will effectively wash your mouth out and keep it clean while you wait for your next brush.
For a variety of health reasons, it is recommended that you drink eight glasses of water a day.
8. Watch your diet
It should come as no surprise to hear that what you eat has a significant effect on the health of your mouth. Sugary and acidic foods can erode the enamel of your teeth, leading to decay and cavities. Avoid the need to have expensive and unsightly fillings by being watchful of your diet. Limit your intake of foods such as sweets, highly-acidic fruits like lemons, and coffee. Also take care around foods that can stain your teeth like red wine, coffee and tea. Although staining won’t cause major dental problems, it can look unsightly.
9. See your dentist regularly
A lot of people only visit the dentist when they need a major procedure such as a root canal or having wisdom teeth removed. But to maintain a healthy mouth, you should regularly see your dentist twice a year, even if you’ve been following these habits religiously and there are no visible problems. A dentist can identify any potential issues early on, which you may not have been able to spot until it was too late. They will be able to remove any built-up plaque and offer treatment solutions to improve any issues. Use this as an opportunity to ask your dentist about any concerns or queries you may have. You can search Google all you want, but there is no better source of dental advice than an actual dental professional.
10. Consider further treatment
Maintaining good dental health practices is the best way to look after your mouth, but sometimes people feel this is not enough. If you are unhappy with the way your smile looks, you are not alone. In fact, statistics show that a massive one-third of American adults are unhappy with the way their smile looks. You should never feel you have to change the way you look, but if your mind is already made up, then there are many cosmetic or orthodontic options that you may wish to consider. Many people opt for cosmetic whitening to improve the appearance of stained or off-colour teeth. You can either have this done as a professional treatment, or you can purchase products such as whitening strips or toothpaste to use at home. If you feel your teeth are crooked or misaligned, you could also consider corrective treatment to improve their appearance. Treatments like braces or aligners can straighten your teeth in a matter of months; an effective, albeit costly, solution.
If you are concerned about the long term health of your teeth, there is no better time to start preserving them than right now. The last thing you want is to feel unhappy with your appearance or to have to fork out for expensive treatment. Following these daily dental habits is the best way to ensure that your teeth and gums stay healthy and beautiful for the rest of your lifetime.