When you open your mouth, what emanates from it tells a lot about you. Good oral health can have so many wonderful life-changing benefits. From greater self-confidence to better luck in careers and relationships, a healthy smile can truly transform your visual appearance, the positivity of your mind-set, as well as improving the health of not only your mouth but your body too.
What is Good Oral Hygiene?
Good oral hygiene results in a mouth that looks and smells healthy. This means:
• Your teeth are clean and free of debris
• Gums are pink and do not hurt or bleed when you brush or floss
• Bad breath is not a constant problem
• If your gums do hurt or bleed while brushing or flossing, or you are experiencing persistent bad breath, see your dentist. Any of these conditions may indicate a problem.
Your dentist or hygienist can help you learn good oral hygiene techniques and can help point out areas of your mouth that may require extra attention during brushing and flossing.
Practice Good Oral Hygiene
Maintaining good oral hygiene is one of the most important things you can do for your teeth and gums. Healthy teeth not only enable you to look and feel good, they make it possible to eat and speak properly. Good oral health is important to your overall well-being.
Daily preventive care, including proper brushing and flossing, will help stop problems before they develop and is much less painful, expensive, and worrisome than treating conditions that have been allowed to progress. In between regular visits to the dentist, there are simple steps that each of us can take to greatly decrease the risk of developing tooth decay, gum disease and other dental problems. These include:
• Brushing thoroughly twice a day and flossing daily
• Eating a balanced diet and limiting snacks between meals
• Using dental products that contain fluoride, including toothpaste
• Rinsing with a fluoride mouth rinse if your dentist tells you to.
• Brush your teeth last thing at night and at least one other time during the day with a fluoride toothpaste.
• Clean in between your teeth at least once a day using interdental brushes or floss.
• To check if you have bad breath lick your wrist, let it dry and give it a sniff, if it smells your breath probably does too.
• If you use mouthwash don’t use it directly after brushing as you rinse away the fluoride from your toothpaste.
• Quit smoking to help reduce the chances of tooth staining, gum disease, tooth loss, and in more severe cases mouth cancer. Make sure your toothpaste contains fluoride; it helps strengthen tooth enamel making it more resistant to decay.
• Change your toothbrush every two to three months or sooner if it becomes worn as it will not clean the teeth properly.
Visiting the dentist
Visit your dentist regularly, as often as they recommend. Some dentists may offer home visits for people who are housebound or have difficulty visiting the surgery. If you are nervous about visiting the dentist, make sure they are aware of why so they can improve your treatment. Help to overcome dental anxiety by taking a friend with you for support or listen to music to help you relax and focus on something else.
Your dentist will carry out a visual mouth cancer check during your regular check-up.
Your diet is important
• Chew sugar-free gum after eating or drinking, especially sugary foods, to help protect your teeth and gums in between meal.
• Wait an hour after eating or drinking anything before brushing as then enamel will be softened and you could be brushing away tiny particles.
• A varied diet that is rich in vitamins, minerals, and fresh fruit and vegetables can help to prevent gum disease. Finishing a meal with a cube of cheese is a great, and tasty, way to reduce the effect of acids from the foods damaging your teeth.
• Avoid snacking and try to only have sugary foods and drinks at mealtimes, reducing the time your teeth come under attack.
Carry your children along
If you have a sweet tooth try to choose sugar free sweets and drinks which contain xylitol as it can actively contribute to your oral health. Weaning your baby off the bottle early can help them avoid developing dental problems. Parents should try and supervise your children’s tooth brushing until they are about 7 years olds. Take your child to the dentist early, as soon as their teeth start to appear, this will help them get used to the sights, sounds and smells of a dental practice. Use a timer or brush a long to a song to ensure your children are brushing for the correct amount of time. Use a reward chart to track your children’s brushing habits and get them actively involved in brushing their teeth. Use disclosing tablets to show areas of your children’s mouth which may need better brushing.
It pays to pay attention
1. Use the right toothbrush and technique. Brushing with fluoride toothpaste at least once every day is a must for removing plaque, a thin film of bacteria and food particles which is the main cause of dental disease. Your efforts are more effective if you use a soft-bristled, multi-tufted brush that’s replaced often, especially when bristles become splayed and worn. To remove the most plaque and avoid damaging your gums, brush with a gentle, circular motion for at least two minutes over all tooth surfaces.
2. Don’t forget to floss. Your toothbrush can get to most but not all the plaque on your teeth. Flossing — either with flossing string, pre-loaded flossers or a water irrigator — helps remove plaque from between teeth. Don’t rely on toothpicks either — they can’t do the job flossing can do to remove plaque.
3. Mind your habits. We all develop certain behavioral patterns — like snacking, for instance. Constant snacking on foods with added sugar (a major food source for bacteria) increases your disease risk. Consider healthier snacks with fresh fruits or dairy, and restrict sugary foods to mealtimes (and the same for sports and energy drinks, which have high acid levels). Stop habits like tobacco use, excessive alcohol consumption or chewing on hard objects, all of which can damage your teeth and gums and create a hostile environment in your mouth.
4. Watch for abnormalities. If you pay attention, you may be able to notice early signs of problems. Bleeding, inflamed or painful gums could indicate you’re brushing too hard — or, more likely, the early stages of periodontal (gum) disease. Tooth pain could signal decay. And sores, lumps or other spots on your lips, tongue or inside of your mouth and throat could be a sign of serious disease.