Oral hygiene is an important part of our everyday life. Taking care of your teeth has become a habit since you were just a little kid. However, are you sure you’re doing it the right way?
Benefits of Taking Care of Your Teeth Properly
Practicing proper oral hygiene daily helps you keep your teeth healthy, preventing oral diseases such as gum inflammation, periodontitis, cavities which are caused by bacteria-ridden plaque.
Plaque is a sticky layer of bacteria, bits of food and other organic matter that forms on your teeth. The bacteria in plaque metabolize these organic compounds, producing acids that cause cavities.
Plaque also leads to periodontal (gum) disease, gum inflammation, and periodontitis This can become a serious infection. It can damage bone and destroy the tissues around your teeth.
The best defense is to remove plaque before it has a chance to build up and produce acids, causing problems for your teeth and gums.
How to take care of your teeth daily
The most important thing you can do to get healthy teeth is brushing and flossing properly every day. Brushing is an effective way to remove plaque from the large surfaces of the teeth and from just under the gums.
Besides, you should also use dental floss to remove plaque from between your teeth. Nowadays, there are many dental tools designed to help with oral care such as interdental brushes, mouthwash, etc.
Building good brushing habits
Most of us learned to brush our teeth when we were children. We have stuck with the same brushing technique into adulthood. Unfortunately, in reality, many of us learned how to brush the wrong way. Even if you are aware of it, it’s hard to change that lifelong habit.
There are different ways to brush correctly. See our animated instructions for some ideas. The modified Bass technique (below) is among the most popular for adults. Parents should supervise their children’s brushing until age 9 or 10.
Here are a few general pointers so you can get the best out of brushing
1.Brush at least twice a day
One of the best times you should brush your teeth is just before you go to bed. When you sleep, your mouth gets drier. This makes it easier for acids from bacteria to attack your teeth.
Also try to brush in the morning, either before or after breakfast. After breakfast is better as it gets rid o not only the plaque that built up overnight but also food particles left from your breakfast.
2. Brush no more than three times a day
Brushing after lunch and afternoon tea will help your teeth stay clean. But brushing too often can damage your gums.
3. Brush gently
Brushing too hard can damage your gums. It can cause gum recession.
Plaque attaches to teeth like food sticks to a spoon. It can’t be totally removed by rinsing, but a light brushing will do the trick.
However, if plaque isn’t removed immediately, it will harden into calculus (tartar). By then, brushing no longer works and you will have to visit a dentist to get it professionally removed.
If you think it’s too hard to be gentle with brushing, hold your toothbrush the same way you hold a pen. This encourages a lighter stroke.
4. Brush for at least two minutes
Two minutes is the minimum time you need to clean all of your teeth. Try to relax to a song while brushing if you think the repeated brushing strokes bore you out.
5. Have a standard routine for brushing
Try to brush your teeth in the same order every day. This can help you cover every area of your mouth.
For example, you can brush the outer sides of your teeth from left to right across the top, then move to the inside and brush right to left. Then brush your chewing surfaces, too, from left to right, etc.
6. Always use a toothbrush with soft bristle that is certified by the Ministry of Health
The harder the brush, the greater the risk of harming your gums. Choosing certified toothbrushes also guarantee that they are good and safe for use.
7. Change your toothbrush regularly
Throw away your old toothbrush after three months or when the bristles start to flare to avoid gum damages.
8. Use an electric toothbrush. Electric is fine, but not always necessary for oral care
Electric or power-assisted toothbrushes are a fine alternative to manual brushes.
They are especially useful for people who don’t always use proper brushing techniques. They also are a good choice for people with physical limitations that make brushing difficult.
9. Modified Bass Brushing Technique
- This method is effective in removing plaque in the one-third area around the root and the gumline.
- Use a toothbrush with soft bristles that are 0.2mm thick.
- Open your mouth comfortably wide.
- Hold the toothbrush sideways against your teeth, at a 45 degree angle with some of the bristles touching your gums.
- Gently press the brush so the bristles are slightly in your gum line.
- Keep pressing gently and move the brush back and forth, using short strokes.
- Brush 3 teeth at a time. Then move onto a new a
- Flick the bristles towards the chewing surfaces.
Improper brushing techniques may cause injury due to:
- Excessive force
- Wrong brushing angle
- Hard bristles
- Wrong brushing direction (horizontally)
- Gum damage (puncture) caused by brush bristles
- Old, worn out toothbrush
How to choose toothpaste
Toothpastes don’t just clean teeth anymore. They have special ingredients for preventing decay, plaque control, tartar control, whitening, gum care or helping sensitive teeth.
Most toothpaste contains fluoride, which has been proven to prevent cavities. Fluoride also can stop small cavities from getting worse.
Tartar-control toothpastes are useful for people who tend to build up tartar quickly. Whitening toothpastes will remove only surface stains, such as those caused by smoking, tea or coffee. To whiten teeth that are stained at a deeper level, talk with your dentist.
Some people find that some toothpaste ingredients irritate their teeth, cheeks or lips. If your teeth have become more sensitive or your mouth is irritated after brushing, try changing toothpastes. If the problem continues, see your dentist.
Many people never floss. But flossing is critical to healthy gums.
Here are a few general pointers about flossing:
- Floss once a day. Most dentists recommend flossing at least once a day. If you tend to get food trapped between teeth, you can floss more often.
- Take your time. Don’t rush.
- Don’t skimp on the floss. Use as much floss as you need to clean both sides of every tooth with a fresh section. Some professionals think that reusing sections of floss may move bacteria from one tooth to another.
- Choose the type that works best for you. There are many types of floss: waxed and unwaxed, flavored and unflavored, etc. For example, waxed floss works better in people with very closely spaced teeth. Try a few types to see what works best for you.
Other Ways To Clean Between the Teeth
To supplement your at-home brushing and flossing, your dentist or hygienist may suggest one or more of the following:
1. Interdental cleaners
These cleaners work better than floss for people who have large spaces between their teeth.
These cleaners also work well in people who have braces or missing teeth, and in people who have had dental implants.
You can find them at most grocery stores and drugstores.
2. Oral irrigators
These are water toothbrushes. They do not seem to completely remove plaque and stains.
But they are great for flushing out food and debris in pockets between teeth. They also are used to deliver medicine to hard-to-reach areas.
3. Interdental tip
These flexible rubber nibs are used to clean between the teeth and just below the gum line. Plaque and bits of food can be gently removed by them.
4. Mouthwashes and rinses
Mouthwashes and rinses can freshen the breath. Usually, they have added fluoride to kill the bacteria that cause gingivitis. Some mouthwashes are designed to help loosen plaque before you brush.
Some types have high alcohol content. Thus, you’ll have to avoid drinking alcohol while using them. Read ingredient labels carefully before using any mouthwashes or rinses.
In some cases, your dentist might prescribe a stronger fluoride or antibacterial rinse for you.
Practicing good oral hygiene is very important. Improper or infrequent oral hygiene may damage your teeth and gums. Therefore, it’s best to start taking care of your teeth right away.