The high standard of living has forced most people to consider only the basics when it comes to meeting needs. In this case, dental health care is not prioritized because it is viewed as unimportant additional cost that can be avoided. However, subscribing to dental insurance and practicing preventative measures is far much cheaper than seeking medical attention for dental ailments and other complications. For long term healthy teeth and a confident bright smile, consider the following five tips:
1. Maintaining a Healthy Diet
The type of food you take can adversely influence the health status of your teeth and gums. Food rich in starch and sugar is known to provide a good environment for bacteria to thrive in your mouth thereby forming plaque. When plaque is not removed, an acid is produced and as a result enamel attacked causing decay. It is therefore important to be precautionary by consuming foods that have low sugar and starch content while at the same time maintaining a balanced diet.
a healthy, balanced diet will include lots of fruits and vegetables (for vitamin C), some starch e.g. rice, bread, potatoes etc., proteins i.e. beans, fish, eggs, milk, low fat dairy etc. not forgetting plenty of water intake.
Water is important because it‘bathes’ teeth therefore washing away any available food debris, acids and sugar from the mouth. It also contains fluoride (an essential substance that guards against teeth erosion) and tends to maintain saliva at recommended levels.
Consumption of Sugar rich foods and juices e.g. unsweetened fruit juices, fizzy drinks, marmalade, sweet sauces, chocolates, sorbets and fruit in syrup just to mention a few must be kept on a low. It is important to stick to only one glass of juice in a day. This also applies to smoothies in which sugar (that might cause tooth decay) is released from the fruit structure during blending.
Coffee, tea, cigarette smoke and wine are not good either as they all stain teeth. Smoking is associated to lung and mouth cancer, bad breath, breathing complications and gum diseases. It also causes Periodontal Disease and reduces the healing ability of bones and soft tissues. Alcohol on the other hand erodes the outer teeth surface (loss of enamel). Again, like smoking, it causes mouth cancer.
Precautionary measure for soft drinks
The best precaution is to avoid them. However, if one cannot do without, limiting intake should be observed and with a straw. (A straw bypasses the acid to the teeth). After soft drink intake, rinse your mouth with plenty of water to wash away any remaining sugar-juice content.
2. Maintaining Oral Hygiene
Oral hygiene is very important for a person’s confidence. A person with unhealthy gums and bad breath will always be uncomfortable when speaking. Bad oral health and breath are as a result of improper teeth cleaning. The following are the recommended teeth cleaning practices;
- Floss teeth each time before brushing in a slow sawing motion so as to remove any food particles from between teeth before brushing.
- Brush teeth after every meal or at least twice each day for approximately two minutes while observing The Role Technique (giving short strokes towards teeth from gum margin), Fones Technique( moving the brush in circular motion) and the unpopular Charter’s Method where the brush is partially placed over gum and teeth and given circular vibratory movements.
- Clean gums by gently stroking them.
- Swish and Gargle Diluted Hydrogen Peroxide or any other mouth-cleaning compound to kill disease-causing bacteria in the mouth.
Other than the above-mentioned practices, several others can be incorporated when brushing teeth in order to achieve the best-desired results.Always be careful anytime you make contact with the gum line and adopt the right teeth cleaning technique according to gum/teeth sensitivity and age.
Precautions When Teeth Cleaning
- Always use a soft bristled toothbrush when brushing so as not to rupture gums. The brush should also be small headed to easily access the molars (back teeth).
- Before brushing, rinse the tooth brush in hot water so as to soften the bristles.
- Always use fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride reduces the risk of decay and hardens tooth enamel.
- If you have kids below the age of nine, teach them the Teeth Scrubbing Technique and always ensure they use tasteful toothpaste for them not to shirk from teeth cleaning. For those between 10-15 years, guide them through the Bass Cleaning Technique for maximum cleaning and adequate massage to developing gums.
In addition to the above, your toothbrush should be changed every three months. This is because after 3 months your mouth is filled with bacteria that are easily transferable to the toothbrush after each use. The brush is also considered to have worn out bristles thus ineffective in cleaning hard to reach areas.
3. Regular Dental Visits and Check Ups
Most people do not prefer visiting the dentist for check-ups because of initial bad dental experiences, fear of injections, time constraints, below par services by some dentists, nervousness and fear of dental procedures among others. Whatever your reason of not visiting the dentist is, it should not be justified. This is because of the dangers you are exposing yourself to i.e. Gum Disease, Teeth Loss and other dental complications that might be difficult to cure. Dentists not only identify and control complications while in their early stages but also provide important information necessary for maintaining proper dental health.
4. Teeth Flossing
Flossing, as an important aspect of Oral Health Care is the removal of dental plaque and food particles from teeth so as to keep them clean and reduce chances of contracting gum diseases and halitosis. In dentistry, Flossing is Interdental (between teeth cleaning) and covers approximately 60 per cent of the teeth cleaning process.
To remove waste material from between teeth, floss is inserted between teeth, wiped along teeth sides to the gums. This practice is important because brushing only will not clean below the gum line neither will it remove plaque from in between teeth.
Flossing should be done properly and regularly with the correct dental floss. For desired results, consider the following steps
- Firstly, wind floss around your middle fingers of both hands
- Hold it tightly and with a sawing motion glide between your teeth
- When floss reaches the gum line, resistance is experienced. gently curve it against your tooth while making a letter C
- While holding floss against each tooth, scrap the side of the tooth and move from the gums.
- After flossing, brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste and soft bristled brush then rinse with a lot of water to wash away the food particles and loosened plaque
It’s normal for first time flossing to feel sore and painful. Slight bleeding from gums may also be experienced.It is important to also practice Professional Dental Cleaning at least twice a year in addition to Flossing and Brushing.
5. Chewing sugarless gum
The reason why sugarless gum is recommended is because regular gum contains a lot of sugar that can cause tooth decay. On chewing, saliva is generated by salivary glands to help in neutralizing acids and cleaning away of harmful bacteria. Minerals and proteins in saliva also play a very important role in protecting teeth enamel.
According to research, chewing gum also improves alertness and blood flow to the brain. Sugar free gums also contain a substance called xylitol that has been found to reduce and mitigate effects of mouth bacteria.
It is well understood that dental changes start taking shape when bacteria in the mouth converts sugars and starch into acids that ‘eat away’ the enamel resulting in tooth decay. Observing the above tips will not only prevent this process from taking place but also ensure healthy teeth and a beautiful bright smile.