A Guide to Dental Hygiene

Most dentists will agree that the most important dentistry work is done outside their practice. As skilled as dentists are and as much expertise as they have, when it comes to looking after your teeth then the most important person is you. If you can maintain a good dental hygiene and oral health routine on a daily basis, then your trips to the dentist are far more likely to be a breeze!

Many people find that some of the more important aspects of dental hygiene are far too easy to overlook. For example, how many of us floss regularly? How often do we give in and drink sugary drinks? And when exactly is the right time to change that toothbrush and get a new one?

It is important to realise just how important your dental health is. If you are not looking after your teeth, then this will lead to tooth decay. Tooth decay is usually what causes toothache, and most of us would like to avoid that. But poor dental health can also cause a host of other problems. It can lead to halitosis, gum disease and gingivitis, to name just a few. There is also some evidence to suggest that people with poor dental health are more likely to suffer cardiovascular problems. The link has not been researched fully, but surely cleaning and flossing your teeth is easily done if there’s a chance you can avoid heart disease.

Don’t forget about the damage poor dental hygiene can do to your wallet too. If you don’t look after you teeth and visit your dentist regularly, it will eventually catch up with you. And when you do finally have to visit your dentist out of necessity, you may find that you end up with one large bill which could have been prevented.

By now, you must surely be starting to agree with us: maintaining good dental hygiene is a really, really good idea. So let’s cover the basics: what do you need to do to look after your teeth?

First things first, you need to make sure you clean your teeth twice every day. Most people clean their teeth morning and night and, unless your dentist advises otherwise, choose a toothpaste with extra fluoride. Flouride helps you to maintain healthy tooth enamel, which is vital in protecting your teeth against bacteria. You should also aim to replace your toothbrush every three months or so (or when the bristles have started to soften and bend), as it starts to become less effective at cleaning in between your teeth.

Speaking of cleaning in between your teeth, you should also floss at least once, preferably twice, every day. This will remove the trapped food and other debris that becomes lodged in the gaps between your teeth during meals. If it is left there, it attracts the bacteria which causes tooth decay.

If you are serious about looking after your teeth, you should also think carefully about what you eat and drink – and when you eat and drink it! There is nothing wrong with treating yourself to a sugary snack once in a while. But you will do much more damage to your teeth is you graze on sweet things all day, or sip sugary drinks constantly. Without a break between sugary foods, you are not giving the natural defences in your mouth time to work and protect your teeth.

Eating fruit after a meal, such as an apple, can also help to clean your teeth and to stimulate the natural defences in your mouth. Alternatively, you could try chewing sugar-free gum, which has the same effect. It can also help to keep your breath fresh during the day.

Finally, it is also useful to remind yourself from time to time that your dentist is your friend. You need to make sure that you see them regularly – as a minimum, you should visit your dentist at least twice every year. They will be able to monitor the health of your teeth and recommend preventative actions that you may need to take. If required, they can also refer you to a dental hygienist, who will specialise in oral hygiene and in ensuring that you are looking after your teeth in the long term.