Most of the food we eat cause bacteria in our mouths and produce acids. Starches, sugars and cereals, all of them contribute towards acid attack on our teeth. Inadequate oral hygiene can lead to many problems, ranging from tooth decay and gum disease to bad breath and tartar. Periodic visits to the dentist and proper oral hygiene can go a long way in maintaining healthy teeth. From the time when oral hygiene products only meant natural tooth protection and cavity, today there are products for cleansing, disinfecting, breath freshening and whitening. Good oral health is important to your overall well being. Don't lose your smile to plaque and cavities!
Healthy teeth are clean and sans cavities and tartar buildup. Healthy gums are firm ands pink. Healthy teeth not only enable you to look and feel good, they make it possible to eat and speak properly. To maintain your pearly whites in good condition and last you a lifetime, follow some simple yet vital rules of oral hygiene:
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day
- Floss daily
- Get a dental check-up and teeth cleaning at least twice a year
- Avoid smoking
- Avoid candy and other sugary foods
- Eat a well-balanced diet
- Do not ignore loose teeth, bleeding and swollen gums
- If you wear dentures, ensure that you clean them after every meal. Soaking them in a cleaning solution daily also helps in maintaining oral hygiene.
The kind of food we eat plays an important role in determining the health of our teeth. Soft and sticky foods are most dangerous on the teeth as they get attached between the teeth and provide a breeding ground for bacteria. Tough foods increase saliva production and some amount of self-cleaning of the teeth takes place. Snacking in between meals is a sure-fire recipe for continuous acid attack on the teeth all day long. A balanced diet with limited number of between-meal snacks is ideal for healthier teeth.
Plaque is a film of bacteria that grows on teeth and leads to decay and gum disease. When the layer of plaque gets hardened, it is called tartar or calculus. Plaque leads to gum irritations, making them tender and raw. It may lead to a condition where the gums move away from the teeth, creating crevices that harbor more bacteria. This can lead to tooth and bone decay. Gum disease is a primary cause for loss of teeth in adults. Plaque can cause other problems such as cavities, inflamed gums (gingivitis) and bad breath.
Plaque begins to accumulate on teeth within 20 minutes after eating. . Teeth that are not cleaned properly become a place for bacteria to reside as food particles stay in your mouth and decay. Therefore regular brushing and flossing is vital to preventing plaque buildup.
Bad breath can be an embarrassing problem. Good oral hygiene practices such as regular brushing and flossing and usage of mouthwashes can keep bad breath at bay. Bad breath can also be caused due to dry mouth syndrome. Many a time long periods of hunger or medications can contribute to bad breath. Consult your dentist if you continue to have bad breath.
Select your toothbrushes with care. Look for brushes with soft polished bristles and rounded edges. Avoid toothbrushes with hard bristles that can hurt your gums. Worn-out bristles can do little for your teeth. Replace them every 3 or 4 months. The size and shape of your brush should fit your mouth, allowing you to reach all areas easily. To clean the outer and inner surfaces, the toothbrush should be held at a 45-degree angle against the gums and moved back and forth. To clean the inside surfaces of the front teeth, the toothbrush should be held vertically and moved gently in up and down movements.
You can opt for electric toothbrushes with motorized bristles. You can adjust the speeds and bristle rotations and head sizes. Sonic toothbrushes make use of new sonic wave technology to remove plaque. Such toothbrushes help in edging out plaque from hard to reach places too. Interproximal toothbrushes are tiny brushes that clean between your teeth. These brushes come in different sizes and shapes and can be attached to a handle.
Tartar control tooth pastes claim to reduce tartar build up and prevent tooth decay and disease. Often they only reduce the calculus or tartar formation above the gumline. They may not do much to control the calculus formation below the gum line where gum disease has its roots. Those suffering from sensitive roots can opt for desensitizing toothpastes that offer relief, albeit temporary. Such tooth pastes contain potassium nitrate and strontium chloride. Fluoride tooth pastes are said to reduce tooth decay and gum disease. Other tooth pastes offer teeth whitening effect and antibacterial properties. Some tooth pastes claim to remove heavy stains and are often called 'smoker's toothpaste'.
Flossing is essential in removing dental plaque and maintaining good oral hygiene. The ADA (American Dental Association) recommends flossing every day to remove plaque. Proper flossing is a skill that takes time and practice to master. You can pick up dental floss in waxed or flavored varieties. Break about 18" of floss and hold it with the middle fingers of both hands. Wrap floss around your fingers, leaving five to six inches to work with. Hold the floss tight. Gently slide it into the space between the gum and the tooth. Guide the floss between your teeth using a gentle rubbing motion. Saw the floss back and forth to slip it between the contacts of your teeth. When the floss frays, re-loop the floss and continue flossing. Areas that are hard to reach must be gently cleaned like the upper molars and the last teeth. Follow the curve of the enamel to rid it of plaque. Rinse your mouth after the flossing is done.
Proper oral hygiene must become a part of your daily routine. Brushing and flossing prevent the build-up of plaque, the sticky film of bacteria and food that forms on the teeth. You can get a dentist for regular preventive services such as fluoride treatment, sealant application and scaling. Do not ignore treatments such as fillings and crowns.