Believe it or not – there are many simple ways to take care of your smile without spending hundreds or thousands of pounds on treatments. A lot of dental problems that people experience are easily preventable earlier in life, whilst for other complaints such as stained teeth or bad breath, its never too late to tackle them.
It’s just all about building the right habits.
Learn to incorporate these seven habits into your regular cleaning routine and good teeth will always be a part of your life.
1. Brush Twice Daily
Brush your teeth twice daily – morning and night – using the right toothbrush for you. Your toothbrush should fit your mouth comfortably and the bristles should not feel too hard on your gums.
Brush at a 45 degree angle, using brush head-wide strokes. Be sure to cover all faces of your teeth, including the chewing surface; the inner side and the outer side.
Did you know that 90% of dental problems arise from the areas in between your teeth? This is where food debris can become trapped and plaque can start to form.
You should floss at least once a day to remove the debris from these areas where your toothbrush cannot reach. To do this, edge the ribbon of floss gently between each of your teeth, bending to create a ‘v’ shape against each tooth. You should never pull down hard or rub the floss back and forth against the gum line. Keep going, using a clean part of the floss for each tooth, and more floss if you need to. You can also use an interdental brush instead.
3. Don’t Forget Your Tongue
One of the main causes of bad breath is from bacteria that collects on your tongue. Brushing your tongue when cleaning your teeth helps to remove this and freshens your breath, particularly first thing in the morning before you have eaten anything.
Alternatively you can use a proper tongue scraper to do this, available from your dentist or chemist.
For extra fresh breath, use a good quality mouthwash morning and night, preferably one that is PH-balancing and alcohol free (alcohol can dry out your mouth and make teeth more susceptible to bacteria).
As well as neutralising plaque acids in the mouth, mouthwash helps to target those hard-to-reach areas where debris might accumulate.
5. Keep Your Toothbrush Fresh
Replace your toothbrush every two to three months to avoid bacteria building up and being transferred back into your mouth. After all, your mouth can only be as fresh as your toothbrush!
6. Limit Sugar
Limit or cut back on highly sugary and starchy foods, particularly before going to bed. These kinds of foods can erode teeth when left to sit for too long and cause tooth decay over time.
These foods include things like sweets, cakes, chocolate, crisps, bread and crackers. Chewing gum after eating these foods can help to reduce plaque acid build-up; however, they should still be regarded as treats.
7. Keep It Light
If a pearly white smile is what you’re after, it’s best to avoid heavily staining foods such as red wine, black coffee and black tea. Smoking can also wreak havoc with the look of your teeth over time, causing discolouration.
Stick to paler food and drinks; limit your intake of alcohol, and quit or cut back on smoking. You might also like to speak to your dentist about simple teeth whitening procedures; the Smile Clinic offers a few different options for people wanting a brighter smile that can suit their circumstances and budget.
8. Have Regular Check-Ups
You should arrange an appointment to see your dentist at least every six months, even if there is nothing wrong. Regular checkups with your dentist can help to detect problems before they’ve even occurred and ensure that everything is working as it should.
After one or two positive visits, you’ll soon learn to love the dentist!
For those with specific dental concerns, there are a number of other things you can do in addition to the basic habits outlined above.
- Use a whitening toothpaste in conjunction with your regular toothpaste each day, which can help to remove stains and build-up. Ask your dentist to recommend one.
- Those with sensitive teeth should use a toothpaste specially designed for just that. This will help to fill the tiny holes in the teeth’s enamel, which expose the nerves and make them painfully sensitive to hot and cold temperatures.
- Electric toothbrushes have been recommended by dentists as a more efficient way to clean one’s teeth. They cup each tooth closer and move faster than a manual brush. Just be sure to change the head every two to three months.
- Instead of flossing, you can use an oral irrigator to remove debris in between the teeth. Also known as ‘water jets’, irrigators use streams of water to blast plaque away from the teeth. Tests have shown that they can remove up to 99% more plaque than brushing alone.