Achieving a healthy mouth requires seven important habits to learn and maintain. All of which aim to prevent the process of tooth decay, gum disease, tooth wear and other oral health problems. Plaque is the “soft, white film” that builds-up on teeth overnight and throughout the day. It is made up of food you eat, broken down by bacteria which accumulate if it isn’t removed. Over time, the bacteria damage the underlying tooth structure, causing decay and gum disease. You can help reduce your risk of developing these by removing the plaque, eating a healthy balanced diet and following this oral health guide.
This is the most effective way to remove plaque from your teeth. Using a medium bristled, small-headed, electric or manual toothbrush, brush gently for 2-3mins. The modified bass technique involves tilting the brush at a 45° angle and positioning it where the gums and teeth meet. Brush in small circular “car-wash” motions, working systematically around the mouth and ensuring all surfaces of the teeth are clean. You must brush at least two times a day before bed is essential and do not eat anything afterwards.
Avoid splaying the toothbrush bristles, pressing too hard and brushing too frequently, as this can damage the gums and wear away the tooth. Remember to clean your tongue also, this further reduces bacteria in the mouth and prevents bad breath. Replace your toothbrush every three to four months, to ensure it remains effective.
TOOTH TIP – Play a favourite song while brushing and make it into a fun family activity. This builds good oral hygiene habits for children and ensures supervision of children <6 years of age.
Fluoride is a natural mineral which reinforces the tooth structure, protecting it from bacteria, acid and sugar attacks. Just like we drink milk to make bones strong, toothpaste contains fluoride which makes teeth strong. Ingestion should be avoided but small quantities swallowed while brushing has not been shown to cause systemic harm. Various strengths are available depending on the risk of developing tooth decay and age.
Recommendations for use are as followed;
TOOTH TIP – Directly applying a small amount of toothpaste on teeth before bed can provide a boost in fluoride for teeth that may be sensitive or vulnerable to tooth decay. Avoid this in children, risk of swallowing.
Effective cleaning ensures all surfaces of teeth are cleaned; an area often forgotten is the contact between teeth. Not cleaning interdentally equates to missing more than a third of your tooth surfaces and causes a build-up of plaque. It is recommended to clean between your teeth at least once a day, using dental floss for tighter spaces and interdental/tepe brushes for larger gaps. Using 40-60cm of floss, wind one end around your index finger and hold the other end between the thumb and index finger of your other hand. Holding the floss taught, push it gently between the teeth. Hugging either tooth on each side, move the floss up and down, staying above the gums. Then, carefully clean at the base of the tooth, around the gums. Tepe brushes should also be used at least once a day before brushing. The correct size should be a snug fit and require minimal force to insert between the gaps. Move the full brush length back and forth a couple of times. The neck of the brush can be bent to allow access to areas between back teeth. Minimal bleeding initially is normal but should subside as you clean more frequently. Excessive bleeding can be a sign of applying too much force when flossing or using tepe brushes which can traumatise the delicate gum tissue. Avoid using sharp or foreign objects such as toothpicks, pens or pencils, to clean between your teeth. This can also damage the gums and cause pockets to form around the teeth.
TOOTH TIP – Carry a packet of floss or your interdental brushes with you in your handbag or pocket when you go out for a meal. Pop to the loo and give your teeth a quick clean before you go back out. A travel-size toothbrush and toothpaste can also be carried around.
An additional adjunct to your oral hygiene regime is mouthwash containing fluoride. These should ideally by used at an alternative time to brushing and never directly afterwards, as it nullifies the effects of the fluoride toothpaste.
Alcohol containing mouthwashes can cause your mouth to dry out and exacerbate bad breath, hence alcohol-free mouthwashes are recommended.
Excessive use of Corsodyl mouthwash and toothpaste may also cause generalised tooth staining, use in moderation and as advised by your dentist.
Eating a balanced and healthy diet is beneficial for both your general and oral health. Harmful bacteria feed on sugars in the diet. Frequently eating sugar provides a continuous supply of food for bacteria to grow and cause tooth decay. They do this by producing toxins and acids which soften and break down the hard tooth structure. It is therefore strongly recommended to limit snacking as close to mealtimes as possible and restrict consumption of sugary foods. Aim to have 4 sugar attacks though out the day; breakfast, lunch, dinner and one snack. Be wary of foods with hidden sugars and acids; tea, coffee, ketchup/condiments, energy drinks, dried fruits and flavoured water.
TOOTH TIP – Carrots, apples, leafy greens and strawberries have all been shown to naturally cleanse the teeth with potential whitening effects too. Make sure to include these as part of your daily 5 fruit and vegetables.
Smoking is the major cause of cancers affecting the mouth and throat. It is also responsible for bad breath, staining and periodontitis (irreversible gum disease). Stopping smoking reduces your risk of oral cancer seven to ten-folds and improves gum health within a year. Often the effects of gum disease go unnoticed in smokers as bleeding, an identifying sign, is absent or minimal.
Your dentist can direct you to the right resources and support you may need to stop.
TOOTH TIP – Stopping smoking cold turkey is unsuitable for most people and can lead to relapse due to a nicotine addiction. Evidence suggests reducing smoking with supplementary Varenicline and/or nicotine containing products such as lozenges and chewing gum with behavioural support is the most successful method.
Your dentist is trained to identify early signs of tooth or gum disease, visiting when you only need to usually means it is too late to prevent this. Regular visits can identify decay before it progresses and help keep your teeth healthier for as long as possible. Remember you only get one set!
TOOTH TIP – 6-month check-ups are usually recommended unless your dentist advises otherwise. Set a 6-monthly reminder in your phone, to book a dental check-up, so you don’t forget.
A healthy and beautiful smile is the perfect accessory to give most people a boost in self-confidence. Advancing dental technology has revolutionised the way dentists can design a bespoke smile, tailored to address your needs. Providing an immersive step by step journey, where we listen to what you want. Aesthetic dentistry has emerged as a life-changing experience for many patients.
1. Comprehensive Assessment and Digital photographs
Your individual needs are the focus of this process, we want to know what you would like to improve your smile. Pre-treatment high-resolution photos are taken using a digital SLR camera. Followed by a dental check-up with x-rays if appropriate, to ensure your mouth is in good health, with stable teeth and gums.
2. Smile Analysis and Design
You can then view your new smile as you desire, with the freedom to change anything you are not happy with, then and there. The dentist’s expert eye for aesthetics will provide you with invaluable advice to take your smile to the next level. Using treatments such as teeth whitening, composite bonding, porcelain veneers and Invisalign.Back to Blog
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