Poor oral hygiene not only causes unsightly cavities and tooth decay, but is also a risk factor in systemic diseases such as osteoporosis, bacterial pneumonia, cardiovascular diseases such as a heart attack and stroke, diabetes complications and low or very high birth weight.
So it makes sense to do as much as you can to ensure good dental hygiene on a daily base. There are a few rules you can follow to encourage good oral hygiene.
The first step to ensure good dental habits is to brush your teeth regularly – at least twice a day and preferably after each meal. This removes built-up plaque caused by bacteria naturally accumulating in your mouth.
It also removes any food particles on and between teeth and neutralises sugars and acids. Use a toothpaste containing fluoride as it strengthens tooth enamel.
Use a toothbrush with soft bristles to avoid injuring your gums or scratching the enamel layer of your teeth. Keep the brush as dry as possible to avoid bacterial growth and change it every three months, or sooner if the bristles become worn.
Make sure to brush all your teeth as well as your tongue, since many bacteria grow on the tongue. There are special tongue scrapers available for that task, or you may use your tooth brush.
Use a mouth wash to rinse in between brushing and especially after eating anything. Choose one containing fluoride. A mouth wash not only clears away vestiges of food but also freshens your breath and inhibits the growth of bacteria and plaque.
Floss Every Day
Make sure to floss at least once a day to remove plaque build-up or any bits of food stuck between teeth, where it is hard to reach with a toothbrush alone. Preferably do so before you brush your teeth, so that fluoride toothpaste can penetrate in between the teeth to protect the enamel.
Avoid smoking, as this encourages the growth of bacteria in the mouth and causes bad breath. It could also result in discolouration of the teeth, gum disease and bone loss. If you cannot quit, brush your teeth after every cigarette with toothpaste especially developed for smokers.
Eating the right food can also promote good oral hygiene. Hard food inhibits the growth of bacteria and fruit and vegetables are far better than sweets or sugary drinks, which contain too much acid and sugar, both known causes of tooth decay. Vinegar also contributes to the demineralising of the teeth and should be kept to a minimum. Eating cheese after a meal will help keep the teeth clean.
Avoid snacking too much in between meals because it encourages the growth of bacteria and plaque. Especially avoid sticky food or sweets that leave a residue on your teeth and gums, disturbing the PH level in your mouth and allowing bacteria to grow more readily.
In between meals, use chewing gum, especially that containing Xylitol (a non-nutritive sweetener). The chewing of gum promotes the production of saliva, which washes away bacteria before they can attach themselves to the teeth or gums.
Visit your dentist or an oral hygienist at least twice a year and at any time you have problems with your teeth. They will be able to spot any developing problem and prevent it from getting worse. Even if they just clean your teeth properly, it is worth seeing your dentist regularly to ensure your teeth are in good health. If you have dental insurance, costs will be covered and paid for.
About the Author
Our guest blogger is Zoe, a 22-year-old health blogger and freelance copywriter. She loves to share her knowledge of health through content on the internet, and she is currently writing for health insurance plan firm Medicash. Feel free to tweet your thoughts about this article to @worldental or @bloggingstyle.