Maintaining healthy teeth and a beautiful smile requires consistent care. Even if everyone around you tells you that you have nice teeth, it’s still important to take appropriate precautions to avoid complications such as tooth decay and gum disease.
Oral health means more than cavities since it relates to your general health as well. Furthermore, when left unchecked, oral health problems can result in pain and tooth loss and affect your level of confidence. But if you’re reading this article, you’re probably already aware of the importance of maintaining healthy teeth and gums.
These dental care basics will help you shorten the time you have to spend at the dentist and make your appointments more pleasant. Not only that, but you’ll save time and money spent on costly procedures.
What Causes Tooth Decay?
You may not like the sound of this, but your mouth is a thriving ecosystem with large communities of bacteria that feed on the sugars from the foods and drinks you consume. The main purpose of brushing your teeth is to remove plaque which is the biofilm made from these bacteria that accumulates on the surface of your teeth, along the gum line and below the gum line.
The bacteria that forms this plaque releases acids that eat away at the tooth’s protective enamel, leading to cavities. These acids also irritate the gums causing them to become red, sensitive and prone to bleeding. This can also lead to gum disease. The gums pull away from the teeth and form pockets. These pockets can fill with bacteria and become infected. Left untreated, gum disease can result in bone and tissue loss. Your teeth might become loose or have to be removed.
If you don’t remove this plaque regularly, in time it mixes with minerals from your saliva, hardens and becomes tartar. You can’t remove tartar merely through brushing. At most you’ll be able to dislodge it a bit through flossing, but you will have to go to a dentist to have it professionally removed. In case you’ve noticed tartar on the back of your teeth or along the gum line, look for a dentist in your area and make an appointment. For example, you can simply google dentist in Blackburn and read the reviews.
Don’t Go to Bed before Brushing Your Teeth
You’ve most likely been told that you should brush your teeth after every meal. You don’t have to do it immediately after, but if you can, try to do it within 30 to 60 minutes after eating. And although ideally, you should do it after every meal, twice a day can suffice as long as you don’t eat a lot of starchy and sugary foods.
It’s especially important to brush your teeth before going to sleep so you can remove the plaque that accumulated throughout the day and not give it several hours in which it can multiply and produce the damaging acids we mentioned earlier. You should also keep in mind that during the night, saliva production decreases, giving the bacteria a better environment to multiply.
Use Proper Brushing Technique
The way you brush your teeth is just as important as the frequency, so don’t rush the process. It should take about two or three minutes.
You’ll want to place a pea-sized dab of toothpaste with fluoride. Fluoride is a mineral derived from fluorine and helps prevent cavities. Use a manual toothbrush with soft bristles or an electric toothbrush, so you don’t hurt your gums while brushing.
Put your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against the gum line. This makes it easier for the bristles to reach the plaque in between your teeth. Move the toothbrush in a circular motion. Don’t press on it too hard since this will change the angle of the bristles making the brushing motion less effective and it can hurt your gums.
You’ll also want to clean the inside of your bottom and top front teeth by angling the toothbrush and brushing in small circles using the bristles at the tip. Plaque has a very soft consistency, so you don’t need to scrub it away. These gentle motions are more than enough.
Don’t forget to clean your tongue as well since this helps remove some of the bacteria and freshen your breath. Again, use gentle motions, don’t scrub.
Since the bristles of the toothbrush wear down, making it less effective, you’ll need to replace it every three or four months.
Flossing Is Just as Important as Brushing
Even with the best brushing technique, you won’t be able to reach the plaque in the tight spaces between your teeth with your toothbrush, so you’ll need to at least floss once per day, before bedtime.
To floss properly, you’ll want to break off about 18 inches (46 cm) of dental floss. Wind most of it around the middle finger of one hand and a little bit on the middle finger of the other hand so you can stretch out a small section of one inch in between. This is the section you’ll be using for flossing. As you move from one space to the other, wind the floss you used on one middle finger and unwind fresh floss from the other.
When you slide the floss in between your teeth, use your index finger to push it up while using a rubbing motion. Don’t push it too hard since this will cause it to snap against your gums and hurt them. After sliding the floss up to your gum line, curve it against one tooth in a C shape. Now you just have to rub the side of that tooth using an up-and-down motion.
If you find flossing difficult, there are some alternatives such as water flossing.
Go to the Dentist Regularly
You should go to the dentist once every six months. This will give you a chance to get your teeth professionally cleaned and get rid of any tartar that might have built up on the gum line, which will help prevent gum disease. It will also allow your dentist to check for cavities or other problems before they get a chance to become more serious.
You should also make an appointment if:
- You’ve noticed an unusual sensitivity to hot and cold
- Your gums appear to be pulling away from your teeth
- Your gums bleed when you brush your teeth
- gums are red, swollen and tender
- It hurts when you chew
- You have persistent bad breath