Good dental care is a vital part of good health overall. Whilst one can take those ads for dental care products with a pinch of salt when they suggest that success in life is dependent on a smile that can illuminate a football stadium, it is true that poor oral health can lead to serious health problems, such as diabetes and heart disease. Fortunately, routine dental care is not rocket science, and following a few basic principles can ensure a healthy mouth.
The Importance of Brushing
The value of good brushing in proper dental care cannot be overestimated. Many of us are content to simply drag a toothbrush across our teeth for a few seconds and call it brushing. Sticking to these few simple rules should ensure a better quality of brushing.
Use a soft bristled brush: For many people, hard bristled or even medium bristled brushes can actually damage tooth enamel. There are some exceptions, so talk to your dentist to see what type of bristle is best for your teeth. For best results, use a brush with rounded tips to the bristles. This protects the teeth better and can help prevent scratching of the enamel.
Brush for at least two minutes: Most people do not brush for anywhere near the recommended two minutes, but that’s how long it takes to brush your teeth thoroughly. Start with the outer surfaces of your teeth, then brush the inner surfaces, and finish off with the chewing edge. Some toothbrushes feature a rough surface on the back for brushing your tongue, which can help to freshen your breath by removing the bacteria that cause bad breath.
Use a fluoride toothpaste: Fortunately, most tubes of toothpaste available nowadays are fluoridated. Fluoride can help fight tooth decay and plaque. However, fluoride is not recommended for children under six, as it can be poisonous to small children if swallowed. Some tooth pastes also contain additional ingredients for tartar control, whitening and so on. Whichever brand of toothpaste you pick, make sure that it carries the American Dental Association (ADA) seal of approval. The ADA seal ensures that the toothpaste is effective in providing adequate dental care to those who use it properly, following the techniques outlined above.
Flossing As a Part of Your Dental Care Routine
As any dentist will tell you, flossing is another essential component of good dental care. Flossing helps remove plaque and food particles from between your teeth. If you find regular dental floss difficult to use, there are devices available that can help you. The simplest are flossers, little plastic utensils with a small piece of dental floss held between two prongs. They come in packs of 100 or so, and each flosser is good for a single use. If you want something a little more hi-tech, there are interdental cleaners available that squirt a thin jet of water between your teeth which acts the same way as a piece of dental floss.
If you are happy with regular dental floss, there is a correct technique and many incorrect techniques, just as there is with brushing. The correct technique is to take a piece of floss 18 inches long and wrap it around your two middle fingers until there is just an inch or two left between them. Slide the floss up and down between the teeth in a zigzag motion. Repeat for each tooth, making sure that you use a clean section of floss every time.
More and more people now use mouthwashes as part of their dental care routine. They can be more effective at removing interdental plaque than flossing alone and are also good at killing bacteria and freshening breath. Mouthwashes have come a long way from the early days, when using them felt like gargling with paint stripper, and are now much gentler on your mouth without compromising their effectiveness.