Most of us know we need to take proper care of our teeth if we want to avoid tooth decay. But what oral hygiene routine should we follow to make sure our teeth, gums and mouth stay strong and healthy?
Eat a healthy, low-sugar diet
You probably already know that that eating well is important for our general health and wellbeing – but did you know it’s critical in achieving a healthy mouth, too? Frequent sugar consumption is the leading cause of tooth decay in both adults and children, and yet it’s easily preventable if you take care of your diet and maintain good oral hygiene. As well as minimising fizzy drinks and sugary snacks, it’s important to look out for hidden sugars in so-called healthy options – like fruit juices, smoothies and dried fruits. Smoking should also be avoided. Tobacco use leads to tooth staining, makes your breath smell and can cause gum disease too.
Brush your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste
A recent YouGov survey revealed just 56% of people brush their teeth for the recommended two minutes with a fluoride toothpaste. Brushing twice a day helps reduce the build up of harmful plaque forming bacteria and make your teeth more resistant to decay. Try to leave at least 30 minutes after eating before you brush, and use either an electric or a manual toothbrush, but do use a fluoride toothpaste (fluoride has been proven to slow down the process of demineralisation – where the tooth enamel loses calcium and phosphates after exposure to sugary drinks and foods.) Importantly, don’t rinse your mouth out with water after brushing – you will just wash the fluoride protection away. Simply spit out the excess toothpaste instead, and leave around 30 minutes before you use mouthwash, even those with added fluoride.
Always supervise children when brushing. Disclosing tablets are a great way of encouraging thorough brushing – simply chew the tablet and reveal any remaining plaque. Regular flossing between the teeth, and other interdental cleaning is also important to remove any food trapped between them.
Visit your dentist regularly
Did you know – 77% of people surveyed agreed that visiting a dentist once per year is good oral health practice, but only 52% actually tend to do it? Regular dental check-ups are crucial in spotting potential problems early. Your dentist will suggest how frequently your check-ups should be; if you’re at a higher risk of cavities or gum disease you may be seen every 6 months, otherwise your dentist may be happy to check you once a year. If you have children, don’t forget to establish a good oral hygiene routine early – babies should visit the dentist after their first tooth appears, but at least by their first birthday. Children learn by example, so by visiting the dentist regularly with you they will learn good oral hygiene is important to their health.
The important thing to remember is that tooth decay is preventable. By combining a sensible diet, good oral health hygiene and regular dental check-ups your teeth should last you as you age.Previous