10 Ways to Look After Your Teeth

You only have one set of teeth to look after, so it’s vital you do your best to keep them in good shape for a lifetime.

There are many seniors that have taken the time to care for their teeth through the ages and still have their original ones. It doesn’t take a lot of time or energy to put some attention on them and the benefits are enormous. To help you out, here are 10 ways to better look after your teeth to keep them healthy and strong.

Brushing

While this is obvious, a lot of people don’t brush their teeth often enough or for long enough. Your brushing should last approximately 2 minutes so that all of the teeth surfaces are completely covered. If you’re used to doing a quick brushing, there are apps available online that supply a 2-minute song that you can listen to in order to monitor your brushing time.

You should be using a brush with medium firm bristles, or invest in a good electric toothbrush for improved plaque removal. If you are using a manual brush it should be replaced every 3 months and if you are using an electric one the head should be replaced just as often. A toothbrush wears out quickly when you are using it properly.

Daily Flossing

When you brush your teeth you are only able to reach about 60% of your teeth’s surfaces. What happens to the other 40%? If you don’t floss, plaque and tartar will develop between the spaces in between your teeth. Get in the habit of flossing at least once a day and more if possible. Regular flossing can help control bad breath, reduce the risk of gum disease and leave you with better overall dental health.

Flossing is simple and easy, and only takes a couple of minutes of your time. Use between 16 – 20 inches of floss, wrap it around your index and your middle fingers on both hands, leave a couple of inches between the wrapped floss and pull it tight. Slip the taut floss between the gaps of your teeth and gently reach down with gentle strokes to dislodge any plaque and food.

See more about water flossing as a means of cleaning between teeth.

Use Mouthwash

Mouthwash gives extra protection to your teeth when you use a brand that contains fluoride. You should keep the mouthwash in your mouth for a minimum of two minutes so that it can coat your teeth properly. Never swallow the mouthwash and don’t drink or eat for at least 30 to 40 minutes after using it.

Clean Your Tongue

Your tongue covers a large surface area in your mouth and should not be ignored. The tongue is a porous surface, which easily traps food and bacteria. These particles can then end up on your teeth, which minimizes the good effects of flossing, brushing and using mouthwash. There are tongue cleaning tools available that you can use or simply use your tooth brush. Scrape your tongue gently and evenly and then rinse. You’ll notice that your mouth feels so much fresher when you give some attention to cleaning your tongue as well as your teeth.

The Effects of Alcohol

Your teeth enamel can be damaged by alcohol and cause tooth decay. If you are going to drink alcohol you should brush your teeth immediately after drinking. You may also want to consider reducing your alcohol consumption for the sake of your teeth.

Sugar-Based Foods

Sugar eats away at the enamel on teeth very quickly leading to tooth decay and cavities. If you have to eat sugary products, try to consume them during or right after a meal and then brush your teeth afterwards. Eating or drinking sugar-based products as snacks throughout the day when you won’t be brushing your teeth is definitely a no-no.

Sticky, sugary foods are a huge problem. This food tends to stick between the teeth and if you are only flossing every evening, this sticky food will remain stuck to your teeth for a number of hours. Even foods like raisons and dried fruit should be avoided if you don’t have easy access to your toothbrush.

Natural Teeth Cleaners

When you’re packing up your lunch or snack for the day, consider adding some crunchy veggies or fruit that will help scrape your teeth clean. They should be eaten as a healthy snack or at a meal’s end to give your teeth a natural cleaning. Some foods to consider include broccoli, carrots, peanuts, cucumbers, apples and celery, to name a few.

Sugar-Free Gum

When you’re out and about and aren’t able to give your teeth a brushing, reach for a piece of sugar-free gum. This can help remove any food that has made its way between your teeth and stimulate saliva for a more complete cleaning. It will also freshen your breath at the same time. It’s a good idea to carry around this type of gum at all times because you never know when you’ll need it the most.

The Importance of Fluoride

While we briefly talked about fluoride above, it’s important to go over it again in more detail. Fluoride offers protection to the enamel of your teeth so that they can stay strong and healthy. Your toothpaste should have a fluoride level at a minimum of 1350 ppm (parts per million). There are toothpastes available that have higher fluoride levels and your dentist may recommend using one of these pastes based on your current dental health.

Avoid Smoking

Smoking not only kills, but gives you bad breath and stains your teeth. It can also lead to gum disease and other illnesses in the mouth. Consider your oral health as just another reason to give up the habit if you possibly can. It’s difficult to keep your teeth free of stains if you’re a smoker.

Use the information above to prolong the life of your teeth. Start implementing at least some of these recommendations immediately so that you can still enjoy your teeth later on down the line. Your teeth are precious and are worth all the time that you can possibly give them right now.

Further Resources:

http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/dentalhealth/Pages/Dentalhealthintroduction.aspx
https://www.dentalhealth.org/tell-me-about/topic/caring-for-teeth/caring-for-my-teeth
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/6976594.stm

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