6 Tips to Keeping Your Teeth Healthy
Good oral hygiene does not only equate to good oral health. It can also add up to your total well-being. Most people don’t know that the condition of the tissues and structures of the mouth can actually affect the general physical condition of the body.
Since your oral health can affect almost all aspects of your life – from your ability to chew and speak, your appearance, and even your personal relations with others — it is important that you keep your teeth clean and healthy.
In this article, you will learn what steps to take to maintain oral health and keep your teeth clean, from the right way of brushing, to flossing, and even to choosing dental products to use.
TIP #1: How to Brush Your Teeth
Did you know that there is a right way of brushing your teeth?
We do it everyday so we don’t think about it too much. For most of us, it has become a part of daily routine – a mechanical act. But this seemingly mechanical act is the most important step in keeping your teeth clean and healthy. That is why it is very important that you learn how to do it properly.
The American Dental Association (ADA), the premier group in the United States dedicated to promoting oral health, suggests the following method of brushing your teeth:
- Position the head of the toothbrush against your teeth. The tips of the bristle must be so angled that it touches the gum line at a 45-degree angle.
- Move the brush in a gentle, circular scrubbing motion. First, brush the outer surfaces of each tooth, upper and lower. Be sure to keep the bristles angled against the gum line.
- Use the same motion to brush the inside surfaces of the teeth.
- The chewing surfaces of all teeth should be thoroughly scrubbed. But remember that only the tips of the bristles of the toothbrush can clean the teeth, so use only light pressure. That way, the bristles do not bend and can better clean your teeth.
- When cleaning, let the bristles of the toothbrush reach into the grooves of the teeth. In order to get to the harder-to-reach portion of your teeth, change the position of the toothbrush. In fact, this is highly recommended.
- Clean the inside of the front teeth. Do this by tilting the brush vertically and making gentle up and down strokes with the front part of the brush over the teeth and gum tissue of the upper and lower jaws.
- Finally, brush the tongue. This will help refresh the breath and remove bacteria.
TIP #2: How to Choose Your Toothbrush
The right kind of toothbrush is also another important aspect of oral health, although probably not as important as properly using that toothbrush to clean the teeth. Still, there are many kinds of toothbrush available and you might need some help picking which one to use.
When you go to the drugstore or any store that sells toothbrush, you will probably come across toothbrushes of every imaginable variety. They can range from tapered heads, boxy heads, angled heads, neon handles, handles with bending rubber, handles with your kid’s favorite cartoon character, bendable tips – the list goes on.
If you take all that hype out of the picture, where does that leave you? That should be the question to keep in mind when selecting a toothbrush.
First of all, a brush with a soft, end-rounded or polished bristle is what you should look for. Why? Because toothbrushes like this are less likely to injure gum tissues.
Your gums are made of soft tissues so they are highly sensitive. More so if you have recently gone through a teeth whitening procedure, administered by your dentist.
Toothbrushes with hard bristles could irritate your gums, causing infection. They may even cause abrasion to the teeth. Avoid this by using brushes with soft bristles.
Also, if you notice that the bristles of your brush have become splayed or matted, then it means it’s time for you to replace it with a new one. At the first sign of splaying or matting of the bristles, always get a new brush.
As for storage, any place will do so long as the place is dry and uncovered. Let the bristles dry in open air.
**A NOTE ABOUT ELECTRIC BRUSHES: Some people, especially children and those with disabilities, prefer to use electric brushes. In some instances, electric brushes can even clean better than manual brushes.
You may elect to buy an electric toothbrush to use. If you are not entirely sure, ask your dentist which type of toothbrush will clean your teeth more effectively.
TIP #3: How to Floss Your Teeth
Food and plaque can end up stuck between your teeth or under your gum line. When they do, mere brushing will not be able to remove them.
The bristles of your toothbrush are simply not equipped to handle areas like that between your teeth and under your gum line. For that, you need dental floss.
Now, just as there is a proper way of brushing your teeth there is also a proper way of flossing.
If you ask your dentist or hygienist, they would be more than happy to show you the basic flossing techniques. But to make things more convenient for you, use the technique we provide below:
- First, cut off about 18 inches of dental floss. Wrap one end of it lightly around the middle finger of one hand and wrap the other end around the middle finger of your other hand.
- Next, firmly grasp the dental floss with your index fingers. This is how you can adjust the length of floss you’ll be using and adjust its tautness.
- With your index fingers, form the floss into a C-shape and then carefully slide it up and down between your tooth and gum line. The motion can be described as the same one that a saw makes. Do it gently, making sure that the floss does not snap into your gums.
- To scrape the side of the tooth (another area that a toothbrush simply cannot clean), hold the floss tightly against the tooth. Then, gently move it up and down away and toward the gum.
- To repeat the motions for other teeth, wind the floss around the middle finger. That way, you will be using a fresh section of the floss and thereby, reducing the spread of bacteria, which inevitably happens if you don’t use a fresh portion.
Bacteria in the mouth can lead to gingivitis, or what is more commonly known as “gum infection.”
- Finally, don’t forget to floss the back of your four rear teeth.
TIP #4: How to Choose Dental Floss
When it comes to selecting dental floss, you have several choices. But it all boils down to – what works best for you?
First thing’s first: choose whether you want waxed or unwaxed dental floss. (There is also flavored or unflavored dental floss but that hardly warrants a lengthy discussion since the focus here is more on the oral health aspect of dental floss than personal quirks. If you prefer flavored floss, then by all means, get one.)
At some level, even the choice between waxed and unwaxed dental floss is a matter of personal preference. However, note that waxed floss is sturdier and slides more easily between the teeth.
Still, all types of floss clean well. Choose one that most easily fits in between your teeth. Also, make sure that the floss is easy for you to hold.
There are some waxed flosses that come with disposable plastic handles. This could be a good choice for you, especially if you have limited finger dexterity.
When choosing floss that works best for you, note the following characteristics of floss types and what they mean for your oral health:
- Woven floss is soft and gentle. Best for sensitive gums.
- Waxed floss usually slides easier between teeth. If you have tight teeth or tight fillings, then this is a good choice.
- Gortex or Teflon floss is super slick. Best if you have very tight teeth.
- Wide floss or dental tape works well if you have a lot of bridgework.
- Use a floss threader (this is a pointed plastic loop) to help get floss underneath a bridge.
**A NOTE ABOUT FLOSSING: You may experience some bleeding at first. But this only occurs in the beginning and is not usually an indication that you ought to change floss brands or stop flossing all together. At most, ask your dentist about it.
TIP#5: How to Buy Dental Products
By “dental products” we do not include toothbrushes, toothpaste, and dental floss, for obvious reasons. Instead, what we mean by dental products are those of the teeth whitening variety that contains solutions and certain acids that may be harmful if misused.
Even though some of them may have high solution content, the US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) does not categorize dental products as drugs and so does not regulate them. The only group that sets some guidelines to help standardize dental products is the American Dental Association (ADA).
Dental products that passed ADA’s strict, and often expensive, approval process receives the “Seal of Acceptance.” If you are very particular about the effectiveness of your dental products, then be sure to buy only those with the ADA seal.
However, note that only a few manufacturers opt to seek ADA approval for their products. Sometimes, you may even notice your own dentist using dental products that do not have the ADA’s Seal of Acceptance. That’s because even though some dental products do not have the seal, they use equivalent formulation.
**A NOTE ABOUT MOUTHWASH: They only generally remove bad breath on a temporary basis. Some mouthwash products do contain anti-bacterial solutions that help reduce plaque levels. Fluoride mouthwashes help prevent tooth decay.
TIP #6: How to Prevent Decay through Nutrition
When the mouth is acidic, that is the time when tooth decay occurs. The acid levels of your mouth increase if you eat a lot of starchy or sugary foods. By avoiding foods like this, you can prevent decay.
Avoid foods like:
- Candy, cookies, cake, pie
- Sugar gum
- Soda pop and other sugary liquids
- Crackers, breadsticks, and chips
- Dried fruits, especially raisins which are not only sweet but also stick to your teeth and gums
Instead, eat foods like:
- Fresh fruit in moderation
- Fresh vegetables
- Unsalted nuts
- Unsweetened fruit juices
- Unsalted popcorn
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Bean dips
And those are the six tips to keep your teeth healthy and clean. Practicing good oral hygiene is a must if you want to improve oral health. However, eating a healthy diet serves as the cornerstone of dental health. Only by doing both do you get the best results.