Sunday, May 29, 2016
Whilst we think about our general health a lot of the time, our oral health is often overlooked. Because we brush our teeth as part of our morning and nightly routine, we assume this ticks all the boxes and takes care of everything. However, if we look further into our mouths, we may start to notice a cause for concern. There are a number of factors that contribute to a decline in oral health, such as the lifestyle choices we make, the way we look after our teeth, and whether we are at risk of ignoring signs that further action needs to be taken. Caring for our mouth is not that difficult, but implementing the correct techniques and using the proper routines and equipment is essential for good oral health. If we take the time to look after our mouths and teeth, our oral hygiene can be significantly improved.
Simply brushing our teeth with toothpaste is not an effective way to clean your teeth. Firstly, you need to brush your teeth at least twice a day, preferably once in the morning, and once before bed for at least 2 minutes, using fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride protects tooth enamel, making teeth more resistant to plaque acids that cause damage. Toothpaste should have at least 1,350 ppm of fluoride, and children don’t need a special toothpaste. A family toothpaste is fine as long as it contains no more than 1,500 ppm of fluoride.
When brushing your teeth, make sure you clean each tooth surface including the inside, outside and chewing surfaces. Start with the inner and outer surfaces at a 45-degree angle, then move on to the chewing surfaces by brushing back and forth. Remember that rinsing with either water or mouthwash straight away washes away the fluoride from the toothpaste, reducing the effects of it working. You can also use dental floss - it not only dislodges food but regular use prevents gum disease and bad breath.
Your choice of toothbrush is not that important - it’s the way you clean your mouth that affects your oral hygiene. As long as the head is small, angled and compact with a mixture of long and short bristles, you have everything you need, but be careful not to over-brush, as this can lead to sensitive teeth and receding gums.
Although we might not realise it, the lifestyle choices we make have the biggest effects on our oral health. Eating a balanced diet not only benefits the body but also has a good effect on our teeth. Sugary food plays a serious role in tooth decay – plaque, the bacteria that coats our teeth, uses sugar as energy to grow faster, and sugar also makes the plaque stick to our teeth. This is one of the biggest causes of tooth decay. Cutting down on your sugar intake is a beneficial way to reduce future oral health problems.
In addition to this, it’s always best to avoid smoking and using drugs. Smoking contributes to gum disease, tooth loss and oral cancers and drugs and prescription medicines also contribute to a health concern known as dry mouth. This condition refers to an inadequate amount of saliva in our mouths, and as saliva helps to wash away the plaque that sticks to our teeth, dry mouth can be a factor in tooth decay and tooth loss. Cutting down or quitting both will help, but if you must take a prescription medicine, then visit your dentist regularly as a way of intervention.
Stress is often overlooked but has a role to play in our oral care. People that are often stressed neglect their health routine, such as not visiting the dentist regularly, brushing less often or not brushing at all. If you ignore your oral health routine, this adds as a contribution to plaque build-up leading to tooth loss, decay and sensitivity. Using relaxation techniques, being active and getting the correct amount of sleep helps to reduce stress, overall benefiting your oral health.
Your dentist is the best person to decide how often you should visit them by evaluating the condition of your mouth; although visiting regularly helps to prevent any future problems, children should visit at least once a year. In addition to regular check-ups, keep your eye out for signs and symptoms of mouth-related issues and call your dentist if you have any problems.
Signs and symptoms of gum disease:
Signs and symptoms of tooth decay:
If in doubt, visit your dentist for advice and treatment, early intervention ensures good oral health.