Some animals have it lucky—rodents’ teeth are constantly growing and sharks’ teeth are forever being replaced. But humans, with very few exceptions, just get two sets of teeth, and the second set has to last anything up to a hundred years. So you really want to look after them! Dental hygienists are on your side, but without your help they are fighting a losing battle; so what do they advise?
Know Your Enemies
The outstanding cause of oral problems is the bacteria that fill our mouths. As long as those bacteria stay outside the teeth (and the enamel is a fearsome barrier to them) all is fine, but when sugar accumulates on the teeth it turns acidic and starts to eat through the enamel into the softer living parts of the tooth, opening a way for bacteria to follow.
Bacteria also thrive in between gums and teeth. This accumulation can result in gum disease, causing the gums to retreat and exposing vulnerable parts of the teeth to attack. In fact, gum disease is a much bigger problem than cavities.
Keep Them Clean
It is easy to get careless about cleaning our teeth.
Brushing should take no less than two minutes—that’s thirty seconds for each segment of your mouth, attending equally to the inner, outer, and biting surfaces. The pressure should be firm but gentle—below the gum line your teeth are a little softer and you don’t want to wear them away.
Flossing needs to become a habit and should get down between your teeth to shift the plaque and bacteria. If you find flossing awkward, there are mechanical alternatives you can use.
Regular cleaning is also essential to keeping your teeth as white as possible. Hygienists aren’t too worried about color, but everyone wants a nice white smile and whitening products can help. Read more about whitening kits here.
While you are cleaning, don’t forget your tongue. Bacteria can thrive there as well, so give it a good brush each time you clean your teeth and follow it up with a simple tongue scraper.
The Ones to Avoid
Anything which increases the acidity in your mouth is a danger to your teeth. Watch your consumption of:
- If you tend to drink coffee all through the day, get into the habit of rinsing your mouth afterwards.
- Sugary drinks rapidly build up the plaque on your teeth, and anything that contains citric acid will attack the enamel.
- Smoking is not just bad for your overall condition, it is especially bad for your oral health, resulting in a variety of unpleasant conditions.
Regular visits to a hygienist will certainly help you to keep your teeth in better condition. It may be uncomfortable, but those cleaners they use are great at bacteria-busting. At the same time, your mouth is being inspected for signs of other problems, and your hygienist can refer you for expert advice. It is worth taking it.
Naomi May works for a dental clinic and takes an interest in health and beauty, always striving to look her best. She writes about her interests in her articles, these usually appearing on women’s lifestyle sites.