Daily Tips for Good Oral Hygiene
Bacteria live in your mouth in the form of plaque, and cause cavities and gingivitis, which in turn, can lead to periodontal (gum) disease. It is therefore important to practice good oral hygiene every day, so that you mouth remains clean and fresh throughout the day.
What is plaque?
Plaque is a sticky layer of material containing bacteria that accumulates on teeth, including areas where a toothbrush cannot reach. Many of the foods we eat cause the bacteria in your mouth to produce acids. Sugary foods are the most obvious sources of plaque, but there are others like starches foods (breads, crackers and cereals) that can cause harm. Plaque also produces substances that irritate the gums, making them red, sensitive, and susceptible to bleeding. This can lead to gum disease, in which gums pull away from the teeth and form pockets that fill with bacteria and pus. If these gums are left untreated, the bone around the teeth can be destroyed and teeth may become loose or have to be removed.
How can I get rid of plaque?
The best way to remove plaque is by brushing and cleaning between your teeth every day. Brushing removes plaque from the tooth surfaces. Brush your teeth twice per day with a soft-bristled brush. The size and shape of your toothbrush should be such that it fits into your mouth and allows you to reach all the areas easily. Use an antimicrobial toothpaste containing fluoride, which helps protect your teeth from decay. Clean between the teeth once a day with floss or interdental cleaners to remove plaque from between the teeth. Flossing is a must to prevent gum disease.
The correct way to brush and floss
The following techniques are recommended for brushing and flossing your teeth:
- Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against the gums.
- Move the brush back and forth gently in short (tooth-wide) strokes.
- Brush the outer tooth surfaces, the inner tooth surfaces, and the chewing surfaces of the teeth.
- Use the tip of the brush to clean the inside surfaces of the front teeth, using a gentle up-and-down stroke.
- Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen your breath.
- Break off about 18 inches of floss and wind it around the middle fingers of each hand. Hold the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers.
- Guide the floss between your teeth using a gentle rubbing motion.
- When the floss reaches the gum line, curve it into a C shape against one tooth. Gently slide it into the space between the gum and the tooth.
- Bring the floss back toward the contact point between the teeth and move the floss up or down the other side, conforming the floss to the shape of the tooth.
- Hold the floss tightly against the tooth. Gently rub the side of the tooth, moving the floss away from the gum with up-and-down motions.
- Repeat this method on the rest of your teeth.
Is there anything else I can use to clean my mouth?
A mouth rinse, in addition to daily brushing and flossing, can increase the cleanliness of your mouth. Antimicrobial mouth rinses reduce bacteria and plaque activity, which cause gingivitis and gum disease. Fluoride mouth rinses also help reduce and prevent tooth decay.
What to eat to keep your teeth
The nutritional approach in respect of oral health now goes beyond “don’t eat sugar”
The right and correct amount of nutrition is important in disease prevention, and more and more dentists are discussing the importance of nutrition in relation to preventative dentistry. The quality and consistency of foods, their nutritional composition and the combinations in which they are eaten can affect oral health.
Research shows that antioxidants and other nutrients found in fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts may strengthen immunity and improve the body’s ability to fight bacteria and inflammation, all of which can help protect the teeth and gums. And some foods and dietary habits even have distinct effects on the mouth’s ability to handle cavity-causing bacteria attacks.
Below I list the foods that are good for a healthy body and good for a healthy mouth:
- Calcium-fortified juices, milk and other dairy products are rich in calcium and vitamin D and help promote healthy teeth and bones, reducing the risk for tooth loss. Adding powdered milk to cooked dishes helps those who don’t like milk or cheese to get some of the calcium needed to protect teeth and jawbones.
- Cheese unleashes a burst of calcium that mixes with plaque and sticks to the teeth, protecting them from the acid that causes decay and helping to rebuild tooth enamel on the spot.
- Crisp fruits and raw vegetables, like apples, carrots and celery, help clean plaque from teeth and freshen breath.
- Antioxidant vitamins, such as vitamin C, and other nutrients from fruits and vegetables help protect gums and other tissues from cell damage and bacterial infection.
- Fresh cranberries interrupt the bonding of oral bacteria before they can form plaque.
- Folic acid promotes a healthy mouth and supports cell growth throughout the entire body. This member of the B vitamin family is found in green leafy vegetables and brewer’s yeast.
Cavity-causing organisms feed on the sugar in foods such as soda, chocolate, milk and sweets and convert it to acid, which attacks tooth enamel and causes tooth decay.
Acidic foods and drinks can wear away your enamel, leaving your teeth sensitive, cracked and discolored
Eating correctly at the right time
A diet that promotes good oral health is not just about the foods you eat or avoid — when and how you eat them is equally important.
- Foods that take a long time to chew or that you hold in your mouth (such as cough drops) can damage teeth as they retain sugar in the mouth longer than do other foods.
- Instead of snacking on sugary, carbohydrate-rich or acidic foods throughout the day, eat these foods just during meal times in order to minimize the amount of time teeth are exposed to acid. In addition, the body produces more saliva to help digest larger meals, which washes away more food and helps neutralize harmful acids before they can attack the teeth.