Dental care should be one of your top priorities when it comes to maintaining your physical wellbeing. Not only is tooth decay painful, but in later life it may dictate the types of food that you can eat if your once healthy teeth have had to be replaced by false teeth.
So what are the key dental dos and don'ts?
I answering this question is probably worth stating upfront that your aim is to prevent tooth decay, and that tooth decay is caused by the build up of a combination of bacteria and food. Bearing this in mind here are a list of dental dos and don'ts:
- Do brush your teeth regularly. Dentists recommend that you brush your teeth at least twice a day, normally once in the morning after breakfast and once at night before you go to bed. Of course, if you are able to also brush your teeth also after lunch and dinner, then this will give you additional protection. For most of us, however, twice a day is a good commitment to make.
- Do change your toothbrush regularly (or the head of the toothbrush if you use an electric toothbrush). Note: You can either use a traditional style manual toothbrush, or alternatively an electronic sonic toothbrush. There has been controversy over which type of brush is best. Dentists tend to recommend expensive electric toothbrushes but then again they may have a vested interest if they also sell these products. Independent research by the Cochrane Oral Health Group found that 'with one exception, power brushes that can cost $100 or more don't work any better than a standard $3 manual brush.' Given the outcome of this research, it probably comes down to personal preference as to which type of brush you use.
- Do make sure that you brush all parts of your teeth, including those hard to reach teeth at the back of your mouth. Also, don't forget to carefully brush your front teeth.
- Do use a fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay. Indeed, in the UK, it has been argued that fluoride should be introduced into the nation's water supply, as this would substantially reduce the amount of tooth decay suffered.
- Do brush your tongue, and/or use mouthwash to further kill off any bacteria that are living in your mouth.
- Do floss your teeth to remove any resilient plaque that has survived your toothbrush's assault. Flossing once a day should be sufficient.
-Do check how effective your brushing has been is to use disclosing tablets. These can be bought from pharmacies. You chew them and they will colour any plaque that is left after you've brushed. You don't need to do this every do but occasional spot checks will help you to check that you're still brushing your teeth effectively.
- Do eat healthily. I'm not saying cut out all sugar but cutting down on your sugar intake will help protect your teeth, as well as having other positive health benefits. Foods that are rich in calcium, such as milk, are also worth including in your diet.
- Do have regular dental check-ups. Dentists normally recommend that you have at least two check-ups per year. This will help to spot early signs of decay, thus mitigating against the most harmful effects of tooth decay. Dentists will also carry out basic hygiene maintenance such as scraping plaque from between teeth that will further help in the fight against plaque. You can also choose to have your teeth scaled to protect against decay.
The list of don't are basically the converse of the dos that I've listed.
- Don't fail to brush your teeth or brush them infrequently.
- Don't eat or drink after you've brushed your teeth at night!
- Don't use your toothbrush until the bristles are all dead. You might save a few dollars but it will be a false economy!
- Don't eat excessive amounts of sugary food.
- Don't snack on things like sweets, chocolates, fizzy drinks, between meals.
- Don't avoid dental check-ups. In the UK, there's been a big drop-off in people attending dental check-ups as most dentists have gone private. This is quite alarming as even people with good teeth and fairly good eating habits are liable to have problems if they forgo dental check-ups.
- Don't ignore toothache and hope that it will go away!
- Don't try your own dental treatment! Very obvious but you still hear the occasional horror story of someone who has pulled out a tooth when toothache has struck!
These dos and don'ts are a decent checklist for you to use to help protect the health of your teeth and gums. Remember that the key is to combine three tooth decay prevention approaches, namely regular brushing/flossing, avoiding sugary foods, and regular dental check-ups.
And, whilst there is a cost element attached to this, you should think of it as a very worthwhile investment in the future welfare of your teeth!