Most people don’t really think about their teeth until there’s a problem, and the routines we learned as children carry us through to adulthood. If we are fortunate, we learned good dental routines that helped keep our teeth in excellent condition. Unfortunately for most people the habits we’ve formed may seem excellent, but in reality, leave our teeth vulnerable to tooth decay – particularly in those back molars that are just that bit harder to clean properly at home.
What Is Tooth Decay?
Everything you eat or drink your saliva combines with the sugars in the food, which creates plaque. https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/d/decay If this sticky layer of bacteria is left on your teeth it will start to eat away at your tooth enamel, which is what causes tooth decay. A dentist can detect any spots where layers of enamel are thin on your teeth and if they catch this in time, they are able to work to protect further deterioration. However, if the plaque is allowed to continue decaying the enamel that protects your teeth, it will develop cavities. These are the spots of rotten tooth that lead to tooth pain as they expose the nerves of the tooth to heat, cold, or just when you bite.
What Is a Good Dental Routine?
- Eat well, with healthy snacks and drink lots of water.
- Brush your teeth well, with a good toothbrush and proper technique.
- Floss your teeth, particularly those back molars.
- Visit a dentist, like this one, to get regular check-ups and catch decay before it becomes a cavity.
The first step to strong teeth is a healthy diet. If you are able to limit fizzy drinks and high sugar foods, you are already a step in the right direction. Coffee, tea and wine will also stain teeth and lead to break down in tooth enamel. Crunchy foods help keep your jaw strong which benefits your oral health.
You need to remove the plaque coating from your teeth. Normally this is simply by brushing your teeth, at least twice a day. However, most people don’t brush their teeth as well as they should. An electric toothbrush with a set timer and small head can really help get your tooth brushing routine One common problem with brushing that people often have is actually brushing too hard. This can wear away the gums and cause infections and inflammation. Talk to your dentist about the toothbrush that is right for you. Many people need a softer toothbrush than they realise, but in our fast-paced world we tend to opt for a toothbrush with harder bristles as that seems to get to that “clean teeth feeling” fast.
Although a fluoride toothpaste is generally recommended to maintain strong teeth, it is not uncommon for people to want to use more natural products, so the use of salt and/or baking soda has become increasingly popular over the last few years. While these are excellent products, they can also be very harsh on your gums and tooth enamel. However, one way to use salt to help with a fresh mouth is to put a teaspoon into hot water and use it as a mouth rinse and gargle before brushing, or at any time during the day when you feel you need might need fresher breath.
Flossing has received a lot more publicity since the 1960s, but there are still a surprising number of people who do not floss effectively. Part of this is simply that it can be very difficult to teach children how to floss properly, so those habits learnt as children mean that we grow into adults who haven’t really learnt to floss well. However, you do only need to floss once a day (ideally at bed time). If you experience bleeding gums or sore gums after flossing discuss this with your dentist. Ask if there is any gum disease and ask them to watch you floss to ensure that you are using a good technique. It can be unpleasant for adults to ask for advice on something they perceive as a very simple act, but it is not your fault if you were never taught properly – and if you have children, you will be passing on any other bad habits. Alternatively, you can look at YouTube for helpful videos like this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SRivxlG8Bmc.
Visit your dentist
The suggestion for regular check-ups with your dentist isn’t so that they can have a holiday each year, it is out of genuine concern for your teeth. At the very least you should be seeing a dental hygienist for a complete clean. However, although your dental hygienist will be able to refer you to your dentist if they notice anything very amiss, generally it is your dentist who will be able to give you a complete workup, including x-rays, cancer screening and laser screening for cavities. An annual check-up helps your dentist monitor any changes in your teeth and mouth, allowing any concerns to be picked up early on. This also means that you are far less likely to develop conditions like gum disease if your dentist is able to get on to it early and you are able to follow their advice. As it is generally recommended to have a check up every six months you might choose to see a dental hygienist and Dentist alternatively so that you are getting the best of both worlds – and ensuring that your smile stays bright.