Brushing your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste not only helps prevent tooth decay and gum disease, it can also prevent bad breath.
It isn’t just about moving some toothpaste around your mouth, though. You need to concentrate on the nooks and crannies to make sure you remove as much plaque and leftover bits of food as possible. Your dentist or hygienist will be able to show you how best to brush your teeth, but here are some tips:
- Put a pea-sized blob of fluoride toothpaste on your toothbrush
- Using small circular movements, brush your teeth, making sure you don’t miss any
- Don’t forget the hard-to-reach bits at the back of your mouth and behind the teeth
- Brush along the gum line as well as the teeth themselves.
A toothbrush with a small head is best, so you can move it around your mouth better. The bristles should be either soft or medium as you run less of a risk of damaging your teeth by brushing too hard.
Some people prefer to use an electric toothbrush, but there is little or no difference in the benefit, as long as you brush properly.
Your dentist may recommend that you use a mouthwash or rinse after you’ve brushed your teeth. Using a mouthwash can help get rid of the last bits of bacteria or leftover food that you might have missed with your toothbrush, especially in the hard-to-reach areas.
There are plenty of mouthwashes on the market, but you may need to read the labels as some mouthwashes contain alcohol which may be of concern to some individuals.
Dentists and dental hygienists will often recommend that you floss your teeth as part of your oral care routine. Flossing your teeth helps remove plaque and bacteria from between your teeth and from under your gum line, helping you in the battle against tooth decay and gum disease. It can be tricky to get used to at first, but we’ve come up with a step-by-step guide to help you.
Take about 45cm (18 inches) of floss and it around the middle fingers of each hand. Pinch the floss between the thumb and index finger, leaving around 2.5-5cm (1-2 inch) of floss in between. Pulling the floss tight, slide it up and down against the tooth surface and under the gum line. Try not to use a sawing action as this could cut into the gum. Instead, try a circular movement with your fingers – this will help you get underneath the gum line without causing any damage. When you move on to the next tooth, rewind the floss you’re holding to expose a fresh piece. Do this for your whole mouth.
If you are finding holding the floss difficult, you can buy ‘flossers’ from good chemists and pharmacies. These hold the floss for you, so you can guide the floss around your mouth more easily.
When you first start flossing, your gums may bleed. Don’t worry too much about this – as you get better at flossing and as your gums become healthier, this will reduce.
In some cases your dentist or hygienist may recommend the use of interdental brushes which can be an effective alternative to flossing.