Looking after your teeth is probably one of your most important jobs as a responsible adult, and so we've got 10 top tips from Dr. Harold Katz, dentist, bacteriologist and founder of the California Breath Clinics and The Breath Company, so you can find out if there's anything more you could be doing to protect your teeth.
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day. It is essential you brush for at least two minutes at a time, twice a day. Too many people rush this process (through boredom and routine) and end up missing whole teeth, or surfaces such as the back of the teeth.
- Brush with a decent toothbrush. Consider investing in an electric toothbrush as these can help to reduce the build-up of plaque better than a manual toothbrush. Plus many have timers so you know how long you should be brushing for. Replace your toothbrush (or toothbrush head) every three to four months, or when the bristles start to fray. This helps to keep things clean and reduces the chances of harmful bacteria developing on the brush.
- Hold your toothbrush at a slight angle. Brush with short back-and-forth motions. Remember to brush the outside, inside and chewing surfaces of your teeth, as well as your tongue as this can help keep the breath fresh.
- Use a good fluoride toothpaste. Preferably a fluoride toothpaste without sulphate such as Breath Company Fresh Breath Fluoride Toothpaste (£8.99). The detergents, foaming agents contained in most toothpastes can cause dry mouth (which leads to bad breath), and can even make mouth ulcers worse.
- Don't forget to clean above your gum line. Oral health begins with clean teeth and gums. As well as cleaning your teeth thoroughly to help prevent cavities, make sure you clean above the gum line (where your teeth meet your gums) to help prevent gum disease.
- Floss. Flossing is one of the most important parts of oral health care as it gets right in between the teeth to clean those hard to reach areas. Neglecting to clean teeth interdentally can leave as much as 40% of the tooth surface untouched and exposed to bacteria. Break off about half a metre of dental floss. Wind most of the floss around the middle finger on one hand, and the rest around the middle finger on the other hand. Grip the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers. When the floss reaches your gum line, curve it against one tooth and rub gently - this will help to dislodge any trapped food. Use the floss to gently rub the side of the tooth in an up-and-down motion.
- Use a good mouth rinse to finish. Steer clear of alcohol-based mouthwashes as these can cause dry mouth, and just mask odours rather than killing off bacteria. Try The Breath Company Oral Rinse - Icy Mint and Mild Mint (£12.99), which effectively stops the bacteria that cause bad breath without using any harsh chemical ingredients, and because it doesn't contain alcohol, it doesn't burn or sting after use. Plus it works for 12 hours, so you wake up with sweet-smelling breath in the morning!
- Drink water. Water is imperative for oral health. Dehydration leads to dry mouth, a condition that causes a host of oral health issues. Tooth discoloration, gingivitis and bad breath have all been linked to dry mouth. In addition to warding off dehydration and its consequences, drinking water can wash away some bacteria that may otherwise erode tooth enamel or cause discoloration. For this reason, you should rinse your mouth with water after eating or drinking, especially when foods and beverages may stain.
- Be aware of lifestyle factors. Certain types of foods and drinks such as sugary snacks, tea, coffee, red wine drinks can leave you with bad breath and discoloured, stained teeth. Sugary treats should be avoided at all costs. Smoking also quickly dries out the mouth and nicotine and tar will adhere to teeth causing discolouration.
- Visit your dentist regularly. It is recommended you visit your dentist every 6 months for a check up to keep your oral health on track and avoid more severe problems.
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