8 Great ways to care for your teeth

Teeth create a good-looking smile, maintain the shape of our face, help us chew our food, and pronounce different sounds so we speak fluently. It takes a lifetime of care to achieve healthy teeth, being mindful of your daily habits, using the right oral care products, and visiting dental professionals, like Kennedy Heights Dental, regularly.

1. Use the right toothbrush.

Choose a toothbrush with a small brush head and a bristle design that helps you get to hard-to-reach places in your mouth. Multi-angled bristles have more contact with surfaces between teeth, lifting out plaque from tough spots. Soft and rounded bristles are gentle on your teeth and gums, preventing gum recession. Check if the brush has a comfortable, non-slip handle grip that is easy to use when wet. Replace your toothbrush every three months or as soon as you notice the bristles splay or curl because a new toothbrush removes more plaque than an older one.

2. Brush with the right technique

The way you brush and how you hold your toothbrush is important as unremoved plaque can harden, leading to calculus build-up and gum disease. Position the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle over the gum line so the bristles contact the tooth surface and gum line. Take your time moving the toothbrush in gentle, circular motions 10 to 15 times over each tooth removing plaque. Brush for at least 2 minutes covering all surfaces of all teeth at least twice a day. Be gentle, as overly aggressive brushing can damage teeth and erode your gum line.

3. Remember to clean your tongue

Gently brush your tongue every time you brush your teeth as plaque builds up on your tongue. This can lead to oral health problems like bad mouth odor, tooth decay, and periodontal disease. A biofilm of bacteria sticks to the surface of the tongue and needs to be removed when cleaning. Only the outer cells of the biofilm are destroyed with mouthwash. Brush back and forth, side to side and rinse your mouth with water or use a tongue scraper. Brush the surface of the tongue and roof of the mouth to make sure it is free from bacteria.

4. Choose a toothpaste with fluoride

Fluoride in toothpaste, mouthwash, and drinking water can strengthen tooth enamel making teeth less prone to decay. It provides a protective barrier for your teeth fighting germs. When a person’s teeth are beginning to emerge, fluoride develops the enamel to become as hard as it needs to be to resist cavities and decay. After the teeth appear in the mouth, fluoride helps the enamel remain strong by resisting acid produced when you eat sugary foods. Fluoride has a remineralizing effect on teeth helping to rebuild worn-down or weakened enamel before it disappears.

5. Flossing reaches those hard-to-reach places

Floss daily to remove food particles between your teeth that can’t be removed by brushing. Break off about 18 to 24 inches of floss and hold 1 to 2 inches of it taut with your thumbs and index fingers. Place the floss between two teeth, gently gliding it up and down, rubbing the floss against both sides of each tooth to break up plaque. When it reaches your gum, curve the floss to create a C shape to enter the space between your gum and tooth. Use a clean section of floss for each tooth.

6. End your daily routine with mouthwash

Mouthwash reduces the acid in your mouth, cleans hard-to-reach areas in and around gums, remineralizes teeth, and fights bad breath. It helps produce saliva which neutralizes the acid produced by bacteria, acting as a natural protector of your teeth. Mouthwash is especially helpful for children and older people who may have a limited ability to brush and floss. There are specific brands suited to children or those with sensitive teeth. Prescription mouthwash is also available which usually contains antiseptic to kill harmful bacteria that may live between your teeth and on your tongue.

7. Follow a healthy eating plan

Eating nutrient-rich foods from all food groups including fruits, vegetables, proteins, grains, and dairy helps you develop healthy teeth and gums. Sugar is a major cause of tooth decay and fuels bacteria and acidity in your mouth causing plaque that eats away at your enamel and gums. Cut down on sugary treats and switch to water with crushed berries or mint leaves rather than soda which has phosphoric and citric acid that eats away at your teeth. Aim to brush and floss after every meal or drink water to wash away some of the acidic foods.

8. Visit a dental professional twice a year

Visit your dental professional for cleanings and check-ups at least twice a year. They will remove calculus, look for cavities, spot potential issues and provide treatment solutions. Your dental professional can catch problems such as decay, gum disease, trauma, or cancer early when treatable and more affordable to care for. Children should see a dentist by age 1 and need help cleaning their teeth until they can tie their shoelaces. As people age, regular dental visits are critical as the amount of saliva you produce lessens causing more tooth decay.