Whether you want to maintain your white smile or reduce the risk of dental problems, improving your oral hygiene is always a good idea. We all find ourselves staring into the bathroom mirror in the morning or in the evening before we carry out the most mundane task of our day – brushing our teeth.
We brush our teeth to maintain healthy teeth and freshen our breath; yet we still find ourselves needing dental treatments and wanting tooth whitening. ‘What more should I do?’ You may ask yourself. Improving your oral hygiene can be introduced in simple steps and your teeth will thank you for them.
Before introducing new habits to your routine, examine your mouth for any abnormalities. Generally, a healthy mouth consists of pink gums and no obvious pain occurs when you are chewing food. It is important to be aware of your individual needs, such as tooth sensitivity. Also, check for bleeding gums, bad breath and textured teeth.
Are you flossing your teeth?
Flossing teeth before you brush is important as toothbrushes can’t reach the bacteria in the tight spaces between your teeth. It also reduces gum disease and bad breath by removing old food building up plaque that forms around your gum line.
Sustainable floss options are growing rapidly on the market, so there’s no need for feeling guilty about how much floss you use and throw every day. Be sure to break off around 18 inches of floss each time. A good technique to use is wrapping the floss around the middle finger on one hand and the rest of it on the other middle finger, gripping tightly between thumbs and fingers.
You should spend adequate time on each tooth, moving up and down then gently around the tooth’s natural curves to prevent irritation. A good way to cover everywhere is sectioning the parts of your mouth, not forgetting the back teeth! If the gums bleed, don’t worry – they may have to bleed a few times when you first start flossing. There are also dental floss brushes available which you might find easier to manage.
Are you brushing your teeth correctly?
A good technique when brushing can make all the difference to your teeth. Try brushing your teeth at a slight angle, aiming the bristles towards the area where your teeth meets the gum in small circular back-forth motions. Brushing your teeth too hard will only irritate your gums, causing them to bleed. Remember to brush all of the surfaces of your teeth.
Use an electric or battery operated toothbrush if you can, as these have proven to reduce plaque and mild forms of gum disease such as gingivitis. They often fit in your mouth more comfortably than a manual brush, too.
Changing your tooth head or brush every few months is vital as they build bacteria over time and bristles become irregular. Rinse your toothbrush after every use with water and store away from other tooth brushes to avoid cross-contamination.
Be mindful not to rush brushing your teeth. You need a good two minutes to do a thorough job. Listening to short songs that last a couple of minutes will help you manage the time. Spend thirty seconds on each quadrant of your mouth to section your time equally.
You should also take care to not brush right after eating, especially if you had something acidic like pop. A good time to consider brushing is after at least thirty minutes.
Are you cleaning your tongue?
A typically healthy tongue again ought to be pink, with a thin whitish coating on the surface. A clean tongue helps maintain fresh breath and a healthy mouth. Neglecting your tongue can also weaken your gums, making them susceptible to bacteria attacks. Cleaning your tongue can consist of simply brushing your tongue for 30 seconds in gently circular movements once to twice a day. You can also invest in a stainless steel tongue scraper that wipes off harbouring bacteria from the tongue’s surface in a gentle way.
When do you use mouthwash?
Mouthwash is recommended for use twice a day after you floss and brush, but scientists have said that using a mouthwash after brushing can take away the protective properties of toothpaste. A good time to use mouthwash is at least thirty minutes after brushing or after eating food. Simply swill the liquid around your mouth for thirty to forty seconds.
Are you using the right toothpaste for you?
Choosing the right toothpaste for you is a personal matter for taste and needs. You should consider whether or not you need a specific toothpaste for things such as sensitivity. Biomin toothpastes have one of the best toothpastes on the market for sensitivity and remineralisation.
What is your diet like?
Maintaining a balanced diet can be difficult for some people, but it’s extremely important to prioritise the right foods and limit our intake on acidic and teeth eroding/ staining drinks and foods. A healthy two litres of water a day is important for your whole body health and hydration. Dehydration can affect your mouth. It’s the perfect environment for bacteria to grow and thrive, especially during our sleeping hours where we are unable to do anything about it. It starts to attack the gums, causing soreness and sometimes bleeding.
If you are a smoker, try to quit. Using tobacco regularly increases your risk of many diseases, including gum disease, tooth loss and serious discolouration of the teeth.
Also, resist the temptation to unpick food from your teeth using your nails or tooth picks. They only feed more bacteria into your mouth.
How often are you seeing your dentist?
To help prevent gum disease and other health problems, schedule regular cleans and check ups with your dentist. You should prioritize them every six months at least.
In the meantime, contact your dentist if you notice any signs or symptoms that could suggest oral health problems, such as:
- unusual sensitivity to hot and cold foods/drinks.
- red, tender or swollen gums.
- gums that bleed excessively when you brush or floss.
- gums that have started receding away from your teeth.
- loose permanent teeth.
- breaking and chipping teeth.
- persistent bad breath or an unusual taste in your mouth.
- painful chewing.
Improving your oral hygiene will not only reduce your risk of losing teeth and help prevent gum disease, it will also improve your smile and confidence.